Every freelancer is good at what they do. Whether your a copywriter or welder, graphic designer or gardener, your time is precious and it’s best spent doing what you’re good at. For everything else, I recommend you hire someone to do it for you. Your business team will help you do your taxes, make your business a legal entity, draw up legal documents, deal with non-paying clients, and buy business insurance. The resources listed below are located in the Portland-Metro area (and may practice in Washington as well).
1) Small Business Attorney
Business attorney rates, like any service provider, can best be described as having a range. The range I’ve encountered is $150-$1,000 per hour. There are also pre-paid legal service providers out there, if you want to go that route. Your best bet will be to find a small business attorney amongst your network of family and friends, and enlist their services. Working with an attorney who has her own practice (versus a huge, cookie-cutter firm) would be my recommendation.
If you live in the State of Oregon, I can highly recommend Katie Lane. I recommend her because she specializes in working with freelancers. I know quite a few attorneys, and she’s the only one I’ve met who knows the complete ins and outs of what a freelance business professional needs.
As an additional legal resource, MercyCorps Northwest offers a series of small business consulting services including: general small business consulting, legal consulting, record keeping, and credit consulting.
2) Accountant/CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
Tax time is no joke. While I’m sure I would feel very proud of myself if I did my own taxes, I will never ever be as educated about the latest and greatest tax breaks, rates, and deductions available to me. I just won’t. I’m a writer. I am writing. This is what I do.
Spending more than a couple hours per year dealing with my taxes makes me nervous. And bored, to be perfectly honest. My CPA is Geoff Dougall, and he’s like a unicorn: absolutely magical and very real. His office sends me a reminder in the mail that tax time is upon us (with a little booklet that helps me prepare everything he needs!), we meet for an hour to go over my financials, I leave, the magic happens, and they tell me when my returns are ready to pick up. See? Magic!
Yes, I pay him for the service he provides, AND he keeps me financially safe, secure, and cared for. I’ve worked with Geoff for years, and I hope to do so for many more to come.
3) Financial Advisor/Planner
When I was renting a desk in a larger office, I called my financial advisor to give him my new address. During that call, he asked if I was interested in purchasing renter’s insurance. I said “No, why do you ask?” He said, “Because you’re renting a desk in a shared office. And you’re probably leaving some of your business assets or other property at the office, right?” He was. “So anyone who has access to that office, or happens to wander through, could possibly steal your stuff. See what I’m sayin’?” I did.
The insurance would cost me $5/month. I bought it. He also helped me set-up my first 401K, an investment account, and wants to “get me into a Roth IRA” in the next few years.
If you don’t already know a Financial Advisor or Planner that you trust, start by asking the people in your network to recommend someone.
What other complementary business professionals do you think should be on the team of every freelancer?