The only question you need to ask yourself is:
Does it make money / turn enough of a profit to live on?
If the answer is “No”, you don’t have a business, you aren’t self-employed, you are a hobbyist. The only exception made would be if you are just starting out, but if within 3 years you can’t make enough to live off your business 100% (and you’d be better off working minimum wage as an employee), it’s not a business.
It is very simple – a hobby is something you spend money or time on. You don’t make any real money off it, and it is enjoyable! You talk to people on the phone, you help them out, you can even make a bit of money off it, but not big enough to survive on.
A business? Is a real job. You go to work (at home or at the office), and at the end of the day, you invoice, and get PAID.
Remember, the last part is the most important so I’ll repeat it again:
YOU GET PAID.
If you have a ‘business’, and you invoice people but don’t follow up on the payments, what you’ve got my friend, is a hobby masquerading as a business.
If no actual money is coming in to your bank account, it is not a business.
If the money coming in won’t pay your bills enough to live on, it is not a business.
It is not enough to have business cards, a printer, a logo, a company name (registered or not), and to announce that you have a business. I’m going to side eye you because you don’t have anything. Yet.
What you really have are business cards you can’t return now, a used printer, a logo, and a name you’d like for your business.
Now if you can turn all that into a business and make a living wage off it?
You’re officially self-employed. Welcome to the club!
I have a business selling my skills (my brain as I say) that I started WITHOUT any of the above except for a registered name. I didn’t even have a cellphone of my own at the time, and I still made it work.
Of course, I have gotten less cheap over the years and now actually have a phone with a data plan, but I didn’t need any of the business fixings to start making money with my brain.
I know people who want to freelance like I do, but are getting caught up in the details and minutiae of stuff that doesn’t effing matter.
Know what a business needs?
You need CUSTOMERS.
Without (in my case) a contract to start, I had no business to speak of.
I even knew a guy who had a contract, but felt he couldn’t start the business because he was leaving for vacation in a week for a few weeks to go back to France, and felt like he didn’t have a company name, and all these useless fixings set up.
I had to *face palm* because he had the most important, most difficult thing to get — A CUSTOMER / CONTRACT.
He could have just asked them to wait until he got back from his planned vacation (start date: 3 weeks later than planned), and in the meantime, get registered (literally takes 2 hours at the office), and had a new income and new freelancer life ready for him when he came back.
I realized in that moment – he would never become a freelancer.
He didn’t think he could do it, and so he couldn’t.
You will do whatever you think you can do.
If you think you will make it, you will.
If you think you won’t, you won’t.
Simple as that.