The Sole Trader Checklist
A helpful little checklist for freelancers and sole traders
Going out on your own can seem overwhelming – from expenses to chasing those pesky overdues.
To help you embrace the sole trader life, we’ve put together a helpful checklist filled with pre-business and start-up essentials to help get you on the right track.
For a more detailed checklist, the Australian Government has plenty of resources to help you get up and running. This one here covers the more legit stuff such as business structure, registering your ABN and business name, understanding your legal obligations etc.
This is a really important one that some of us have only just realised… you really do need to keep your personal account separate to your sole trader account. If you’re running all of your earnings, expenses, credit card transactions and any other outgoings from a business account, you’ll be able to keep better track of incomings and outgoings, as well as easily grab info for tax time. You’ll thank us later for this one.
When you jump from being on the 9-5 grind to being self-employed, the change can be a shock to the system. No more regular paycheck landing in your account every Thursday – now you’ll get paid when the contracts come in. It’s a good idea to have a buffer and some savings you can fall back on, should the dollarydoo’s you’re expecting fail to come in. Set a budget you can stick to, with room for expenses and life… otherwise, it’s back to eating packet noodles for a month – straight out of your parent’s basement.
A lesson you really don’t want to learn. Make sure you’ve got the right insurance for your biz otherwise you’ll find yourself in a pit of fiery hell. There are a few different options so it’s best to speak with an insurance broker to find out which one will be the best fit. The Australian Government website once again pulls through with a 101 guide to insurance which you can find here. Better safe than sorry.
You’ll want contracts that can state service terms, deliverables and everything in between. If you take your business seriously, other people will too. Having these prepped beforehand means you’ll be ready to rock and roll from day one. There are plenty of great resources online to help you out, depending on your industry. And, consider consulting a business lawyer for any tricky bits that you can’t work out yourself.
Whether it’s through socials or through a website, get yourself online and contactable. Everyone’s digital these days and it’s the easiest way for clients to find you, and for you to find clients. Get those google reviews when you can, and if you’re planning on social activation for your business – don’t set and forget… keep it fresh and current!
Super, what super? It’s easy to forget or promise yourself you will do it with ‘the next invoice’, but it’s wise to think long term. Set aside super contributions from each incoming payment, some contributions you make may even be tax-deductible. Check the ATO website for more info.
It can become very easy to slip into the habit of working all day, seven days a week. One of the many challenges for sole traders is not knowing when to take a break. Stopping means there’s no income, and no-one is paying you annual leave. Pre-plan and schedule in some time away from your work otherwise you might just find yourself in burn out.
Your job takes up enough time and energy – so why not invest in accounting software that will take at least one thing off your plate. Sole is perfect for sole traders, with the ability to track quotes, invoices, expenses, set goals, match bank transactions, and grab a snapshot of where your accounts stand today. Throw away your shoebox receipts, get rid of multi-tab spreadsheets and level up.