If you don't have a local government entity, like a Small Business Development Center (SBDC), then there are plenty of free resources like SCORE, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and a few others that present classes or workshops about the fundamentals. Although my results have been mixed, these places can also place you with compatible funding options, like a small business loan or grant.
While grants can be tricky to score, it's not impossible. Some grants are given to technology-related fields, minority or women-owned businesses. And most of us can agree that once we receive the money we need to launch, everything else is just trial-and-error.
Another alternative is college courses for entrepreneurship or gig work. Yes, these are for-credit and one class I took over a year ago had some interesting angles, like venture capitalism and crowdfunding. However, this can be a vast investment of time if all you want to do is open a small home daycare and write SEO articles on the side.
So, this question is best answered when you can determine what it is you really want to do. Your aspirations may include intellectual property knowledge, knowing how to take the best photos, or public relations basics. Here's what a freelancing "university" offers for $50/month or $500/year -
- Discover the most lucrative service niche and specialization
- Develop the most sought after skills in any industry
- Create a flexible and rewarding business from scratch
- Connect with instructors, mentors, and peers who will always be there for you
- Live your dream life with a business that gives you freedom just like this...
While this sounds nice, along with the testimonials, any learning institute that doesn't provide a syllabus without my email doesn't get my money - or time. Then again, it may work for someone who's in exploratory mode. Students, stay-at-home parents, or retirees looking for something outside of their old industry may discover some new skills for their second (or third) working stage.
Even though becoming a freelancer can be a scary experience, the best advice I can give newbies is to believe in yourself and develop some kind of support system. Sounds corny but real advice is priceless. The biggest challenge of surviving the first year of freelancing is getting back on the horse. Examples -
- You misread client instructions.
- You accepted additional work without proper compensation.
- You forgot to secure a valid payment method.
- You got talked into doing a free "trial" and now have nothing to show for it.
- You spent more time chatting with the client instead of closing the deal.
These mistakes (and many others) come with the territory but dusting yourself off after a fumble will seem minor after a while. When you spend too much time sulking, chances are you're missing out on opportunities. No diagrams or statistical figures can teach you common sense and you will learn how to improve your street smarts as time goes by.