Have you been thinking of going freelance lately? The immense flexibility of time and location, and the freedom to do what you want on your own terms appeals to almost anyone.
What is freelancing?
Freelancing is an alternative way of working. You are self-employed and represent a specialised of talent, with pay varying from hourly, daily or per assignment basis.
But the truth is freelancing is not for everyone. It is reserved for those who are tenacious and indomitable-spirited.
Here are five tough questions you need to ask yourself to take the leap confidently.
1. Am I ready for a pay cut?
Walking away from permanent employment is a big loss. You have to be ready to take pay cuts, suffer the loss of benefits and forgo all other rewards tied to your employment.
This loss affects not only yourself but your spouse and children, too. There are no medical or health benefits, no phone or car allowances. You are pretty much on your own.
The pay from freelancing can be inconsistent as it depends on the number of gigs you do. Expect dry spells, especially when you first start out.
If you have heavy financial commitments or are in the midst of starting a family, you might want to postpone going full time in freelancing.
2. Do I have a niche?
Every freelancer needs to know what their niche is, in order to determine what kind of freelancing work they are going to do. Niche is the “X” factor you need to differentiate yourself from others.
Creating a niche tells your clients that you are an expert in your field. To begin, think of something you are really good at doing. Determine your strengths. Discover your passion.
Your niche should be unique to you, marketable and fills a need that no one else is doing yet.
3. Am I willing to forgo career progressions and work alone?
It is a view long held by society that the higher your position is in an organisation, the more successful you are in life. We admire CEOs and CFOs and are envious of their success.
On the other hand, as a freelancer, you are reduced to a jack-of-all-trades. You are the writer, the mail boy and the customer service.
Plus, no matter how hard you work, you won’t be promoted. So, if you are one who cares a lot about job titles, positions, privileges and career progression, think twice before you take the leap.
4. Am I ready to work harder and longer hours?
While you have flexible hours as a freelancer, you will find yourself putting in long, extra hours to get your clients in.
You have to manage the entire cycle of prospecting, cold calling and servicing.
You need to be as efficient as possible; organising everyday tasks, meeting clients, doing the actual job, networking, marketing and still finding time to follow up on payments and other matters.
The success of your business depends entirely on your sound business acumen.
You are the finance manager, knowing how to price an acceptable and profitable fee. These are among the many hats you need to wear when you are on your own.
More is demanded of you. To stay ahead of others, you must stay updated and learn any relevant applications as well as the latest technology.
This constant upskilling will help you work smarter and faster and in return, generate more income. You need to always work hard to be your best self.
5. What’s the best time to start?
There is no right time to take the leap, although it is best that you should only do it after a calculated decision. Start freelancing while you are still employed full-time.
Start it as a side gig; over weekends and after office hours. Take this time to explore opportunities, learn new tricks in the industry, test and build your skills.
It is remarkable the extent of learning, adapting and exposure you will experience. You will know how you fare in the market and recognise if this is really what you want for your future.
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