This is a first in a series of Getting Started articles I am compiling. This may not be applicable to all since computers are a common household appliance these days. But when I was still starting up as a freelancer, I didn't have my own computer. I was using the pantry computer at work to apply for jobs. On some occasions, I'd go to an Internet café near our boarding house just to submit my articles and communicate with client.
During my early days with doing online jobs, my first few projects involved a good amount of writing. And since I was doing two jobs, one as a call center agent, the other as freelance gig, what I do is write at my workstation while waiting for calls to come in. Before I sign off from work, I save my drafts on my company email then access it from a webmail so I can continue with my assignment. When I'm on break or when I'm on a day off. The pantry was one of few places I'd hang out because that's where four units of PC are available for employees to use for free.
After getting my first payment from those writing gigs, I knew I wanted to learn more about online work. But for me to be able to learn, I need to have my own computer. The problem is, I don't have the money to buy a new one.
Here is where it pays to have friends. I learned about PC installment schemes from a fellow call center agent who introduced me to the store owner and actually acted as my guarantor for my PC loan. No need for a credit card. I just paid an upfront amount as a deposit, and right then and there, I was able to bring home a brand new computer, while the rest of the amount was paid every pay day until I completely paid it off.
That worked pretty well for me. I was able to work in the call center and when I get home from work, I again work on my online projects.
The installment went on for 12 months. But in no time, I was able to pay the whole amount and got myself a computer I fully own. And as they say, the rest is history.
What I learned
Work on your available resources. If you still have a computer, try to maximize its use and start saving for a new one. We often tend to find reasons not to start like, the PC is slow, internet is slow, etc. Sometimes you just have to uninstall unnecessary programs to speed things up. I never installed games on my computer. So before you contemplate on buying a brand new one, take the necessary steps to optimize your existing computer first.
What's really great about having a PC is the fact that you can opt to upgrade your computer without really having to purchase a whole package.
Don't be fooled to get the highest spec'd PC when you're just doing data entry or article writing.
Getting a loan to purchase the latest Macbook Pro is not very practical if your work doesn't require you to use specific programs or apps that are available on specific devices like Mac. You don't need a Mac to write great articles. Again, work on your available resources. What you need is a good sleep that you can only get if you don't have to worry about paying off loans the next day.
While working a budget is important, it's equally important also that you shouldn't be too stringent and just afford yourself the cheapest specs for your PC. If you require the more powerful ones specially if you are into video and audio editing, then by all means, invest more if it means you can do your work faster, more efficient and can give you better results.
Should you apply for a loan?
In my personal experience, specially with the PC loan that I took, it's probably one of the best use of loans I can think of. But for many, loans become one of the biggest source of headaches, family quarrels and financial troubles.
Here are a few thoughts on how you can avoid getting into trouble with your loans
1. Know the Purpose of Your Loan
If you are applying for a loan, never forget what that money is intended for. If it's for a computer, don't buy an iPad. While there are things you can do on your iPad, PC is always a PC. And if you're trying to reason out and justify why you're buying a different one, then you're probably cheating yourself. I've heard a lot of people who get into trouble because of loans. It wasn't really considered a bad loan at first because the plan was for business but once the money gets into something that's outside of the plan, that's where it really turns bad.
2. Be Responsible
Loans will test a lot about our character. And one of those characters is responsibility. If you prove yourself to be responsible in paying on time you're building a good reputation and a good credit that when there is a need for your business to expand and needs infusion of additional capital, you're at a better position of securing one.
3. Consider the Income
One of the things I often think before I even think about using a credit card or getting a loan is the income that I will derive from it or the money that I can save.
When I applied for a computer loan, I knew that the work that I can do on the computer can earn me enough money to pay off the loan that's why I was confident in applying for it. So if you are considering a loan, think of the ROI. Will you earn an income if you loan and buy a TV, or an iPad, or an iPhone 5s?
If you really have exhausted all options and have come to the conclusion that you really need to get a loan, then the next best step is for you to research on possible companies or banks that can give you a loan. Lenddo is one of the emerging loan providers online that doesn't even require you to have a face to face transaction. One of the key ingredients to get a loan from them is a good reputation on social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Yahoo! I'll write a separate post on that so stay tuned.
While working on cash is my preferred way of doing business, there are instances when a loan or the use of a credit card can be a good alternative. If you are willing to take on some risk to help you move your business forward with the infusion of additional capital, then take some time on how a loan can benefit you. Remember, it's not the loan that makes things bad, it's the character. It's the character that hijacks whatever good intentions you have with your loan. If you can't tame yourself from impulse buying or diverting your money for something that's not the intended purpose, then I suggest that you stick with your cash. If you can't stick to a plan, forget about loans. That will help you sleep better and will save you the headache of collections agencies ringing your phone every now and then.
Have you had any experience applying for a loan for your freelance business?