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5 Steps to be a Freelancer

(by Andy Bailey, CreativeZone.ae)

When you say the word freelancer out loud it has very powerful connotations. It speaks of freedom but responsibility, flexibility but with purpose. Moreover it says to the world that you are in charge of your own future.

Freelancing has long been the domain of journalists and photographers, artists and consultants.  Today it’s an option for everyone.  Anyone can be their own boss, decide their own working hours and pick and choose whom they want to work with.

It sounds perfect!  Where do I sign?

Actually, it’s not quite as simple as that.

Here in the UAE there is the small matter of a trade license.  UAE law dictates that in order to do business here you must be licensed to do so.  Furthermore your license states what activities you’re able to perform.

Thankfully there are companies out there who can assist you with obtaining the right license for what you want to do and where you want to do it.  The right license for one company may not be the right license for yours.  Which is why there are some important things to consider.

Here to help you on your way are Creative Zone’s 5 steps to establishing yourself as a freelancer.

  • STEP 1

    research

    Do some research and choose your industry carefully. If things go well this could be what you do for the rest of your working life!  It’s not enough to just want to do something.  Choose an activity or skill that you enjoy and that you can talk about to others with passion and pride.  Remember, most people set up their own business because they want to be their own boss, have financial freedom and have flexibility.  If you don’t enjoy what you do you may find it hard to motivate yourself later down the line – especially when the only person you have to answer to is yourself!

    It’s important to know what market you will be competing in, and make no mistake it is competitive in all markets these days.  Find out what other companies are doing.  Can you do it better?  If so, how?  Can you do it cheaper?  Money is a huge motivator and business is often won or lost based on the cost.  Entering into a new market blindly is as good as not entering it at all.  You have to know where your clients will come from, and more importantly how you will keep them as clients.  Think long-term if you want to succeed.

  • STEP 2

    business-plan

    Create a business plan. Although it is not always a requirement to do a business plan in order to get your license, it’s still one of the most vital planning tools for a new company.  A business plan is more than just a forecast on where you’ll be in a year, 3 years or 5 years.  It also allows you to see things in black and white, and be able to compare your performance later against your predictions.  Successful business owners will revise their business plan every year to factor in changes in costs, legislations and budgets.  Remember the age old saying; “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”  It’s also worth remembering that most banks will insist on a business plan should you ever need to apply for certain facilities such as business loans, credit cards or card-reading machines.

  • STEP 3

    company name

    Choose your company name. So you know your market and you know how you’re going to do business.  You can already picture yourself sipping cocktails on the beach after a hard days work right?  Well, almost!  It’s time to get creative.  Your company name speaks volumes about who you are and what you do.  A company name should be catchy but not trivial, memorable and relatively short.  Some experts recommend not having more than 10 letters to the name.  Don’t be tempted to use words like ‘Elite’ as it gives the impression that your services will be expensive, likewise words like ‘budget’ or ‘discount’ should be avoided for the opposite reasons.

  • STEP 4

    trade licence

    Get a license.  This is often the most daunting aspect of setting up your own business.  It is not uncommon for people to delay setting up their company because they don’t want to tackle this problem.  Thankfully help is at hand!  Creative Zone is able to offer many different set up solutions based entirely on your circumstances, requirements and budget.  Whether you are a Consultancy or a General Trading company, there are packages to suit everyone.  One of the biggest advantages of setting up your business with Creative Zone is that we already have a panel of experts in place who would be more than happy to help.  Whether it’s accounting or law, immigration or labor laws you can get the help and advice you need to assist you in moving your business forward.  The best part about it is that once you’ve discussed what you want and what you need, you can sit back and let the experts do all the hard work for you.   For Nabbesh users, we are offering a discount on business setup. Have a look here for further details

  • STEP 5

    experts

    Surround yourself with experts.  No matter how much you know you can always learn more.  It’s always useful to be able to ask an expert when you come up against a tough question or decision.  You can use Nabbesh.com to find people with the skills that you need who are experts in their field.   Our business development and networking events will put you in touch not only with business owners who are happy to share their past experiences, but also professionals in a range of industries ready to provide ongoing support.  You should never be afraid or too proud to ask for help.   One day you could be the one giving out the advice!

Establishing yourself as a freelancer has never been so easy.  All you need is desire, determination and the 5 steps above.

Can you really freelance in the UAE?

Yes you can! There are a few ways.

For companies registered in some Free Zones for example they can hire a freelancer for as long as they need using a “non sponsored employee ID card” which costs 720 AED (TECOM), 800 AED (Dubai Silicon Oasis) and 860 AED (Trakhees Zone)

This is suitable when the freelancer is already on their relative or spouse’s visa.  The paperwork required is fairly straightforward, and involves the usual application forms, the company’s trade licence and passport copy of the sponsor showing residence visa along with a No Objection Letter from the sponsor.

What if you don’t have a spouse or relative to sponsor your visa?

Dubai Media City  is an example of a zone which offers a Freelance Permit which identifies an individual as a sole practitioner and enables him/her to carry out business in his/her own birth name as opposed to a company or brand name.  However, because you cannot open a company account at a bank without a registered company licence, it can be quite tricky to invoice as an individual freelancer.

More useful is the freelance license offered through Fujairah Free Zone.  With this type of licence you can choose a company name, can have one or more shareholders on the license, appoint someone as person in charge, the license has up to 3 visa allocations (available at an additional cost) and most importantly, you can upgrade this license to a ‘Baby Business’ license if you need to expand your business in the future.

The Ajman Free Zone Professional Licence comes with a 2 visa allocation without the need to take an office in the free zone (unless you have more than 2 employees).  For a faster processing of licence and visa, and for freelancers who trade in goods, a licence from Ajman is what you need

Starting at AED 17, 500 with the option of monthly payments, you can be running your own business in no time!

To learn more about special licensing options and discounts available to Nabbesh users through our partners, e-mail us at license@Nabbesh.com

4 Essential Business Tips for freelancers

Freelancing is fabulous! You’re your own boss, you can take as many coffee breaks as you like and you never get dirty looks from co-workers for being late. But being-self employed is not all fun and games. You have to be self-driven, keep to deadlines and make sure you find enough work to keep you afloat. Whether you’re only thinking about taking the leap or have already set out, here are a few business tips to get you going on the right foot.

  1. Be understood

    It’s not always easy for full-timers such as managers, accountants and engineers to understand what it’s like to be self-employed. They can sometimes have harsh deadlines, unrealistic expectations, or difficulty understanding your working style. Take your time before you decide on who to work with, you want to make sure they will get you!

  2. Remember what it’s all about

    Before you start a job, it’s always a good idea to present the client with a summary of the project as you understand it, a brief on what you will be doing, an estimate of the time it will take you and an explanation of exactly how you are charging. This document will be hugely helpful to both of you if there are any disagreements or changes later on.

  3. Use your mouth, AND your ears

    Your likelihood of success, and referrals, is much higher if you are a good communicator and your client knows where their project is at all times. Listen to what the client wants and be sure to communicate to them how their project is progressing as you move forward, even if it’s not going according to plan. Most clients prefer the “Ok here’s how it is.” than the “Um, surprise!” approach.

  4. Know when to say No!

    If a client is offering to pay you a rate that is far below the professionally accepted standards, just say no! Most professionals know exactly what market rates are and what margins of negotiation exist given your level of expertise. On the other hand, charities and start-ups sometimes really are strapped for cash but offer you free creative reign instead, which can really be a nice change on a job! Consider saying ‘yes’ in those cases!