The freelance business

Freelance creatives have to deal with business, but it’s not a complicated task.

You don’t need an MBA from Harvard to run a business. You don’t have to sit behind a desk screaming at people (unless you enjoy that type of thing). You don’t have to wear a suit or work 9 to 5. You don’t even need an office.

But there are some things you do have to do:

Creative people are frequently so resistant to these few things that they will either refuse to deal with them or delay until serious problems are staring them in the face. But one thing is certain: If you’ve been paid for doing something creative you are already in business. And sooner or later you’ll have to deal with those few things. If you leave it until later, you are potentially exposing yourself to a nasty surprise.

These obligations may seem dull, anti-creative or ‘not your area of expertise’, but none of them are difficult and there are plenty of people around to help. One approach that is actually very creatively liberating is to schedule specific time every week to deal with such basics as record keeping and reconciling your bank account. You can find a very positive sense of release in knowing that there’s not a growing pile of bills, receipts and other scraps of paper that have to be dealt with. If you deal with these things in small, regular tasks (and reward yourself afterwards with a quality cup of coffee, ice cold beer or whatever vice you like to indulge) you’ll be creating very valuable space in your head.

However, if the potential for positive energy isn’t enough to motivate you to deal with these really very simple things – how about fear?

The systems that regulate and monitor business all over the world are well established and sophisticated. Multitudes of imaginative crooks have been trying to outwit these systems ever since they were conceived, which is why they’re so sound.

If you take money for your creative work, you’ll probably pop up in someone else’ s accounts. Tax authorities are likely to know about you. They’ll send you letters asking you to tell them what you’re doing. You can ignore the letters, but the requests will become demands. You can ignore these too. Then they’ll estimate what you are doing and how much profit they think you are making (and they’ll always over-estimate this to scare the living daylights out of you and get you to talk to them). If you ignore this, they’ll assume you aren’t going to dispute the figures and they will become payable. And if you don’t pay then, you won’t be able to appeal and you’ll be prosecuted.

What would that whole process do to your ability to create?
But, if you absolutely, positively and irrefutably won’t deal with these things yourself; find someone who will.

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