10 Ways to Succeed as a Remote Worker
The remote economy is growing rapidly. Companies are cutting experienced employees and hiring more contractors to cut costs.
For a company, an employee costs twice their salary, if you include all the expenses that go into employing an employee: hiring costs, firing costs, capital equipment, travel and meal expenses, health insurance, other insurance, taxes, Social Security, etc. It just makes more sense for companies to outsource their needs rather than spend money on workers in-house.
With so many people out of work due to coronavirus, and the demand for independent contractors on the rise, it only makes sense that the remote economy will continue to grow.
Here’s some important information that anyone entering or currently in the workforce should know about the remote work …
1) Hiring an independent contractor is low risk to employers.
Contractors work off a contract. As soon as the contract ends, the relationship can be terminated.
For big projects that have paid me well – such as leading marketing efforts for start-ups or managing product launches for public companies – I've generally been hired on three-month terms. After the three months, if the client liked my work and me, then they'd offer a new and longer deal in the 8-12 month range. If they didn't like me, we'd part ways and move on.
The initial three-month term is extremely low risk for employers. All they do is write a few checks. There's no babysitting or housekeeping, since the contractors do that themselves.
If an employer wants to fire one of its employees after three months, it would have to go through all sorts of legal loopholes, leading to a lag in the actual firing and increase in wage expenses and severance pay.
Since hiring contractors is low risk that means employers will continue to look for independents who can add value to their organizations’ bottom lines.
2) Bring truly unique skillsets to the table.
If you're a graphic designer or whiteboard animator, you will struggle to find clients.
Outsourcing to overseas contractors costs less than 1/100th the cost of outsourcing to US contractors. Companies can now pay overseas contractors $5 an hour to complete their projects. Forget the graphics designer ... no garbage man or truck driver in the U.S. would ever work for such a low wage.
If you have a specialized skillset – computer programming, Google AdWords, copywriting, copyediting, ideation, offshore rig structural design, selling businesses within an industry – then those internationals won't be able to compete with you.
3) To get started, offer services "on the side."
Keeping the rising demand for freelancer in mind, aspiring independent consultants should always start with a side business. That's what I did when I got my first client in college. I interned at a radio station that was owned by a financial advisory the summer after my freshman year. At the end of my term, the company requested that I offer my production services to them while attending school at Syracuse University. The experience with this client helped me land three or four more clients during college. By the time I was in grad school, I had nearly 10 clients under my belt, including one that gave me a full-time job as a Director at its firm upon graduation. While getting my Master's at Duke, I was making more money part time through my services than some of my friends made working full-time jobs.
I never compromised my studies. I just enjoyed what I did and charged for it.
Even when I was working full-time, I had existing clients on the side. By the time I "went out on my own" for good, I developed enough relationships to make my consulting business profitable from Day 1.
Starting businesses on the side mitigates risk in case they don't work out. You can always go back to school or your full-time job if a side business fails.
4) Send ideas, processes and workflows to potential clients.
Have an idea for a person or company? Send it to them. You'll be surprised at how many positive responses you'll get.
Half of the clients I've gotten were direct results of my sending ideas completely out of the blue.
When you send your proposal, put as many details as possible: how you're going to execute ... what you expect to deliver ... why the firm needs to implement these ideas. Leave it all out on the table.
None of the companies I reached out to stole my ideas. Zero. Worry about other people in your circle stealing your ideas ... not companies.
If you land the client, the first items you'll work on will be the ideas you shared with them. You'll be prepared to hit the ground running.
5) You will be fired many times.
Failure is a part of any business. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you they've failed too many times to keep track.
As an independent, you will get fired. Contracts won't be renewed. Bridges will be burnt. That's all human nature. So, get used to it.
Economies and industries go through dry spells. The first people to go are the contractors, not employees. You're independent as a contractor, so the pain is less to the company. When things get bad, that's when employees get the pink slip.
6) Get an accountant to take care of healthcare, taxes and other insurance.
As a contractor, you are responsible for all your housekeeping. They can be a huge pain, so get an accountant to handle it all. It's well worth the money, especially since accountants will find ways to save you money on taxes.
Don't waste any time on this stuff ... just outsource it all to an accountant and trust him/her. You should be focusing your efforts on delivering value to your clients.
7) People under 26 years old can go on their parents' insurance plan under Obamacare.
This was huge for me when I turned my consulting business into a full-time gig. I had just turned 24 at the time and didn't have to worry about medical care in case a car hit me.
If there weren’t such a stipulation under Obamacare, I likely would've stayed in the corporate world, which is what most people who need healthcare coverage do.
It's not talked about enough, but Obamacare stimulates young entrepreneurship for this reason.
8) Incorporate your business.
For tax and legal purposes, incorporate your business as soon as you land your first client.
Your accountant will get creative and make sure you save money on your taxes. This is one of the biggest benefits of having a small business.
I've been through lawsuits. They're not fun. But at least my incorporated name was liable and not me personally.
All you have is your name and your word. All your business has is its name.
You can always shut down a business. But it's not wise to shut down yourself.
9) Have a lawyer readily available.
Lawyers are expensive, so find a simple attorney on Craigslist for $40/hour that will write and read contracts and threaten people if they need to.
I've been in a couple of lawsuits, and I only got into them because I was too cheap to get a lawyer to write or read contracts.
Lawsuits are the worst because they're never about the truth. It doesn't matter who wins or loses or what the judge says. Cases involving independent contractors rarely make it to court, so whoever has the douchiest lawyer always wins the settlement.
Some of the most depressing times of my life were during lawsuits. Once you're in one lawsuit, prospective (albeit inexperienced) clients, partners and employers get scared and don't want to work with you.
If your prospective clients know you have a lawyer to look over things before they strike a deal with you, they'll know not to screw you.
10) Get used to working virtually.
Doing your own thing allows you to work from "home." Your home can be anywhere.
I've gotten used to working from home. The flexible schedule has allowed me to travel the country for pleasure and business without having to worry about vacation days or a supervisor looking over my shoulder.
I place an emphasis on mental and physical activity – basketball, beach volleyball, tennis, yoga, meditation, chess, sleep. I do one of these activities five out of seven days of the week.
I also read a lot of books (not news or articles), listen to 10-15 hours of podcasts a month, and watch a lot of stimulating TV and movies.
The time at home will allow you to focus more on improving yourself, and in turn, your business.
Naresh Vissa (www.nareshvissa.com) is host of “The Work From Home Show” (www.WorkFromHomeShow.com) and author of the No. 1 bestselling “Fifty Shades of Marketing: Whip Your Business Into Shape & Dominate Your Competition.” “The Work from Home Show” is available free on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts/Play, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher, player.fm, and most other podcast/online radio distributors, including social media sites Facebook and YouTube. The show aims to teach listeners how to optimize their time, start a business that doesn't require leaving the house, balance work/life issues created by working from home, etc., all while producing the best productivity and results.