How To Start A Business As An Independent Contractor – Before I begin, I should start by saying that I am no expert in starting a small business. Just 8 months ago I started my consulting firm, Shobana Powell Consulting, where we provide training and technical assistance to non-profits and government agencies at the intersection of human trafficking and systemic oppression.
Since then, many marginalized and survivors have reached out to say they want to start their own project, but don’t know where to start and how/if they can if they don’t have financial capital, privileges or access to others. have I’m still learning as I go – mostly from the advice of other women who have empowered me – but I hope this article provides some clear and affordable options for starting your own small business. Remember, you can do this, and you are not alone.
How To Start A Business As An Independent Contractor
I want to emphasize that for marginalized people (BIPOC, LGBTQ + people, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, survivors of violence, etc.) starting a small business, there are additional systemic obstacles. While there aren’t enough resources to fight institutional oppression, there are at least some options to help, including grants, scholarships, and networking groups. To learn more about organizations that specialize in this area, please see this list of resources I have compiled: List of National Resources: Business Advice for Marginalized Entrepreneurs and / or Leaders.
Franchise Vs Independent Business
Please note that this article does not cover public benefit options or options for those who face barriers due to immigration status. To learn more about government benefits, see a tip sheet from the Vera Institute of Justice on consideration of compensation for people receiving government benefits here. For more information on immigration, see here for a guide to self-employment from Immigrant Rising.
Please see below for an overview of the basics of starting a small independent consulting business, followed by the steps to get there. I also provide some notes on safety and comfort levels, especially for survivors of gender-based violence (ie domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, etc.). This list is not exhaustive, but I hope it gives you a starting point. See here for a more detailed business guide from the US Small Business Administration.
Believe in yourself: This may seem like a strange place to start, but starting your own business is an important step, and no matter who you are, you must believe in yourself. If you are a marginalized person, institutional and systemic oppression will make your journey more difficult. But you deserve to chase your dreams and take more places in the world.
Regardless of your story, you will likely encounter challenges related to self-doubt that you are not even aware of. Starting your own business is a very personal journey. You may want to consider going to therapy, if you haven’t already, as well as developing a solid, holistic self-care plan to ensure you have the support you deserve.
It’s Never Too Late To Start A Small Business
You may also consider joining an existing support network of entrepreneurs in your field. Alternatively, you can create your own small formal or informal network by connecting with people in your community who believe in you and from whom you can get help and/or advice when you need it. For some, social media can even provide a virtual community of entrepreneurs and/or marginalized people who can understand your obstacles, celebrate your successes, and encourage you on your journey.
Leverage community: Start building a network by holding meetings with people who have done similar work. You’ll be surprised how willing the right people are to meet you, encourage you, and share the lessons they’ve learned from their experiences. It’s okay if you know what you want to do, but it’s okay if you still don’t know – just let them know where you are in your process. When you meet with people, let them know that you want to learn from them, make it clear how long you want to meet with them (meet for 15, 20, or 30 minutes is appropriate), and respect the time by stopping the conversation. Zoom in when the timer ends.
See if you can find someone who can mentor you, meet with you monthly or quarterly to give you advice along the way. It might not happen right away, and that’s okay. Don’t let that stop you from getting started, but put effort and effort into cultivating relationships because finding a mentor can help you on your journey.
Most importantly, don’t forget to say thank you to the people who strengthened you, and hopefully one day you can do the same for others.
How To Start A Business In 12 Steps (with No Experience)
Company name: Decide on the name of your company. What is the industry standard for naming your business type? Will your business name include your personal name? Will this be your legal name? If so, is it safe/comfortable for you? If that’s not your name, what other word/business name would work for you? What do you want to convey with your business name? Click here to learn more about choosing your business name.
Types of services you offer: Think about the type of consulting services you want to offer. Limit yourself to key skills in your field that address an unmet need of your target client agency. You can ask members of your community/field what you know and/or what makes you and your work unique.
Consider writing down your company’s mission, vision, values, strategic plan, and perhaps a quick SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. This section is not mandatory, but will help you focus on your goals and plan for the future. If the word “business” scares you, especially if you are someone who does not have the same educational or professional access as others, remember that you can do it. There are many successful entrepreneurs without formal training. Strategic planning is at its most basic level, just writing a few things down on a piece of paper or a Google doc. You have come this far; it’s worth trying and believing in yourself. Sometimes a fancy term can make us feel isolated or out of place, but often it’s just a simple one-page document that anyone can fill out. When it comes to strategic planning, I recommend using the free basic templates online, and you’ll be amazed at what you can create.
Remember, it’s a true story of oppression that we experience that makes us feel like we can’t do what the more privileged do, and that shouldn’t be minimized. . You are not weak if you have trouble believing in yourself, but I hope that through your personal and professional journey, you can begin to see all that you are capable of.
Job Opening: Small Business Program Assistant
Your title: Are you a CEO? founder? Executive director? Owner? Consultant? A wetsuit or something else entirely? Consider what will convey the message you want and/or what the industry standard is. Your title may also depend on the type of entity you choose.
Elevator Pitch: Write and practice the “Elevator Pitch”. An Elevator Pitch is a term that refers to what you would say if you met an amazing potential customer in an elevator and just rode the elevator (about 30 seconds) to tell them about what you do. Hopefully they leave feeling interested in learning more. This will help you when appearing in new spaces and when showing your work to potential clients. I recommend reading articles and watching free videos on how to write an Elevator Pitch, then practicing with a loved one or trusted colleague.
Type of Business Entity/License: When deciding how to incorporate your business, you may want to connect to resources that help people start small businesses (see the list of national resources), ask a colleague who has experience in starting a business and/or research the differences between all options. Your business can remain a sole proprietorship without submitting documents to be formalized, you can choose to remain a sole proprietorship but create a DBA (Doing Business As), or you can choose to take another route such as a limited liability company (LLC) or S Corporation (S Corp) or other options entirely. (See here for more on choosing a business structure, DBA vs LLC and LLC vs S Corp). When deciding which one is best for you, you may want to consider:
If you know an attorney who can help you answer these questions, even better! Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues and your community if they know of a lawyer who can help you make the right choice for you and who you can trust.
Independent Contractor: What It Means & What To Do
Formalization / Incorporation / Registration: “Formalizing” your business is not as complicated as it seems. Once you’ve done your research and decided which type of entity is right for you, you can use Google to find out how to file documents in your state/county to register your business and what the costs are. Some choose to hire a lawyer to help them file their documents,
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