I’ve been a freelancer for many years. In the beginning, one of the things I always strived for was looking like, or projecting, the “Big Guy” image. And quite often, I found myself spending more time trying to build the image of a big company (maybe not as large as Microsoft), with very minimal resources
Along the way, I’ve managed to test and try various services and software, and found what worked for me, and likewise, what might work in your favor. I’ll keep it short and list them in no specific order.
Absolutely essential and critical to have a website. Make sure to put in some research and time into analyzing your competitors (the real Big Guys) and seeing what they look like. Hire a designer or purchase a template online.
No hotmail. No yahoo. No whatever. You own a domain name, use it. It’s not any extra, and is almost always (99.99%) part of your hosting package. If it isn’t, look for another web-host, or use Google Apps.
Branding and Collateral
You can start off with the design of a logo. Once you’ve got this, order a small run of business cards. Personally, I’ve seen some ridiculous prices, so make sure to call around.
Nothing speaks ‘big guy’ like having your own PBX with a wonderful intro, options to various departments, and extensions. But that takes dollars… serious dollars. There are a few alternatives. You can build your own PBX using Asterisk, which is a free open-source application. The installation and setup might be somewhat complicated.
You can use a Hosted PBX service provider, which doesn’t cost much, and will give you the same capabilities and more.
Hosted PBX: voiceway.ca
Although you can use Microsoft word or excel here, the better way to go is to use FreshBooks. You’re able to manage your clients online, send invoices, and accept online payments with a credit card.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
I’ve never put in the effort of learning Simply Accounting or QuickBooks, nor have I purchase their software. There is a free online alternative. Outright is a free service and can also integrate with FreshBooks.
Customer Relationship Management
In the recent years, there have been so many companies that target this area. It’s absolutely important that you keep track of the interactions you have with your customer. It allows you to better manage your time and your customers.
Salesforce and TactileCRM also integrate with FreshBooks. SugarCRM is the free alternative to Salesforce, which is already growing in popularity.
Photo Credit: Faakhir Rizvi