Self-employment gives you the freedom to set your own hours and choose your clients. With this freedom, however, comes certain challenges. Leaving the world of 9-5 employment means letting go of a certain degree of security.
It's important to prepare both psychologically and practically for a more independent way of life. In particular, you need to consider certain financial realities. Let's look at the top 5 financial steps to help prepare for the adventure of self-employment:
1. Find the Best Business Structure for Filing Taxes
When you have a job, paying taxes if fairly simple. Taxes are withheld, you file, and you either pay what you owe or receive a refund every year. When you're self-employed, it's a bit more complicated.
When you become self-employed, the Internal Revenue Service considers you a business. There are actually several types of business structures to choose from. Most freelancers start off as sole proprietors. If you have employees or partners, on the other hand, it may be advantageous to set up a Partnership, Corporation, or Limited Liability Company (LLC).
If you're not sure which option works best for you, you should consult with an accountant or tax attorney. It's also important to note that as a self-employed individual you should plan to file your taxes quarterly. In fact, not filing quarterly can lead to certain penalties.
2. Establish Business Credit
As a freelancer, you're in business for yourself. There are several advantages to establishing business bank accounts and establishing business credit. Doing so helps you obtain small business loans and other types of financing. Even if you aren't planning to apply for a loan right now, you may want to at some point.
Business credit can also help you get better terms from suppliers and vendors. There are a few steps to follow when establishing business credit:
When you're self-employed, you don't get benefits such as health and other types of insurance. It's now your responsibility to find insurance. The best plan will depend on many factors, such as your age, current state of health, and whether you're single or have a family or dependents. It's important to do your research and find a health insurance plan that meets your needs.
You may also want to consider other types of insurance. As a freelancer or small business owner, there are several types of insurance worth considering to protect yourself and your property. Any type of business is potentially vulnerable to lawsuits. This is especially a concern if you have a physical business or provide a service that involves working on people's homes or property. However, no one is immune to lawsuits and even digital businesses should research insurance possibilities.
4. Manage Your Cash Flow
One of the biggest challenges of self-employment is uncertainty. If you're accustomed to receiving a regular paycheck, it can be unsettling to have your weekly and monthly income rise and fall. Some businesses are seasonal and take in more money in the summer or during the holidays.
However, your cash flow can spike at unpredictable times. Many things outside your control can affect business: the general strength of the economy, competition, and industry trends. When your cash flow varies, it's important to manage your money.
It's a disturbing fact that many people are not adequately preparing for retirement. According to a recent study, one in three Americans has less than $5,000 in retirement savings. It's never too early or too late to prepare for retirement. When you have a job, you can arrange to have money taken out of your paycheck and put into a fund such as a 401K. When you're self-employed, it's your responsibility to make your own arrangements.
There are several ways to approach this. You can set up your own retirement account such as an IRA. You can also put money into other types of accounts such as high interest savings, checking, or mutual funds. The important thing is to be consistent about saving for retirement.
Educate Yourself About Self-Employment
We've covered some of the most important financial considerations for the self-employed. There are many other adjustments you need to make, such as finding the best places to work, managing your time, and marketing your services. You don't need to feel overwhelmed, though. Don't feel you have to figure out everything all at once.
You may need to consult with certain professionals such as an accountant or attorney if you have specific questions. You may also need to make certain adjustments based on experience. For example, you may start out as a sole proprietor but find it's advantageous to form an LLC or Corporation at some point.
You definitely need to pay closer attention to many financial issues when you work for yourself. Despite these considerations, self-employment is well worth the effort. Being your own boss allows you to create a more independent lifestyle, with much more flexibility and freedom.
The travel industry has gone through some huge changes in recent years. As so much research and booking are done online, travel agencies must engage customers with their website content and on social media, as well as in more traditional ways. The industry is also extremely competitive. If you want to be noticed and reach your target audience you need a strategy. Here are some of the most effective ways to promote your travel agency:
Find or Refine Your Niche
Before the internet, travel agencies were usually fairly broad in scope. Someone would call or walk into the business and book any type of trip or vacation. In the digital age, however, travel has become far more specialized and segmented.
If you want to reach the right audience, you have to identify your niche. If you're having trouble attracting business, one reason might be that you're not sufficiently specialized. You might, of course, have multiple audiences but you should appeal to them separately by criteria such as:
If you don't currently have a specialization you should consider finding one (or more than one) so you can create a more segmented marketing plan.
Make the Most of Social Media
Social media is crucial to promote any business nowadays. However, it's especially advantageous to connect with people on social media sites when you run a travel business. This is true for a number of reasons.
Be sure to focus on the social media platforms that your target audience uses most.
Reap the Benefits of a Host Agency
There are several advantages to working with a host agency.
A host agency can save you time and simplify many areas of your business.
Offer Add-on Services and Packages
Everyone likes to save money when they travel. People also appreciate learning about events and services that they might not be familiar with. As a travel agent, you can offer more value by connecting your customers with local tours, city passes, favorable rates on car rentals, transfer services, and other benefits.
The more you can customize offers to the needs of your customers and seek unique services offered in different areas, the better. For example, in large cities with metro systems, travelers often like to get day or week public transportation passes. If there are popular museums, amusement parks, or other attractions see if you can arrange for discounted tickets.
Integrating with GDS systems makes it easy to locate such deals for your customers. You can also connect with local tour groups and business owners to provide your customers with deals and discounts.
Optimize Your Website
Even in the social media age, your website is still your digital storefront. This will often be the first impression potential customers get of your business. It's therefore essential to make sure it's engaging, informative, and user-friendly.
Build an Email List
An email list lets you stay in touch with your customers and inform them about your latest offers. People who travel tend to do it regularly so it's important to do everything you can to attract repeat business.
These are some proven strategies to help you promote your travel agency. To reach today's travelers, you need to be in tune with their needs. This includes reaching them on social media and on their mobile devices. You also need to provide them with information that helps them find good value as well as find the travel experiences that keep them coming back to you again and again.
Tired of the monotony of the 9-5 and looking for a business that will work around your life and family? Want to meet new people, explore new areas, and feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of every working day? Is it time you took control of your life and took your entrepreneurialism to the next level?
Then look no further because we’ve found the perfect business for you—a travel agency!
It’s scary taking the first leap into the depth of self-employment without any clue on where to go from there.
The good news is, you’re off to a solid start.
Nothing feels better than being your own boss.
In most fields, you need the infrastructure and support of a reputable corporation to reach anything beyond low-hanging fruit. In the travel industry, things are changing—and if you move now, you can catch the wave.