Variety. Independence. Flexibility. The chance to define and fulfill your tasks and projects. These may be a few of the things on your mind as you consider going freelance.
You’re probably also thinking about money. You were worried about financial instability, sure. But eager to remove the cap from your annual salary. Maybe you heard about the London Business School/Eden McCallum survey that found 67% of freelancers earn the same or more while working fewer weeks than in their previous full-time jobs. The report also found that freelancing cut the gender pay gap from 30% to 3%.
If freelancing were that simple, everyone would quit their job. But not everybody is ready to go freelance. Like a regular job, you must earn your benefits. It takes imagination to sustain variety. It takes responsibility to maintain independence. And flexibility — well, it flexes both ways.
You need to be in the right place personally and professionally to make the decision to go freelance. And there are a few things you need to prepare before you press the eject button from regular employment. So, ZenBusiness has designed a flowchart and infographic to help you decide if you’re ready.
Deciding to freelance
The first rule of going freelance is: know thyself because thyself will be your boss, employee, HR manager, and office clown from now on.
Be honest with yourself about whether you can stand having a risky income. Do you have the drive and confidence to go banging on doors, to market your skills and experience again and again boldly? And think about whether you have not just physical but the emotional space at home to run yourself as a business.
But also know the market. Are freelancers in your profession getting plenty of work? Is it more exciting and better paid than having a job? If not, sit tight. The “freelance revolution” has expanded across the professions, says Jon Younger, HR thought leader and author of Agile Talent. And, Younger says, it will soon conquer more:
“…disrupting traditional agencies and consultancies, as well as providing a new source of diplomats, space engineers, project managers, architects, event planners and staff, PR professionals, R&D scientists, pharma trials QA experts, yoga and fitness instructors, writers, medical doctors, executive coaches, therapists, capital raisers, sales experts, and even masseurs.”
When your disposition, circumstances, network, and industry conditions align, only then are you ready.
Get ready to leap
Have you made that tough decision? Now the real work starts. “Be your own boss” is more than a snappy tagline. Believe it or not, bosses work, too, and they have many plates to juggle.
While you should be very wary of giving your services to others for free, don’t skimp on putting unpaid time aside to strategize and prepare your freelance business before you declare it open. The following months and even years are likely to involve continuous change and adaptation — and yes, maybe instability. So, get as organized as you can before you start:
- Designate a working space (or spaces) and hours.
- Research how to find work and schedule time to do so.
- Plan accounting and administrative time.
- Determine what tools and software you’ll need and budget for them.
But beware not to spend too much money before you get started. You may quickly find that the productivity software you bought is not a valuable part of your workflow, or the van you purchased is sitting in the garage, losing value. The important thing is to have what you need to work to operate as soon as work comes in. Remember to delineate some boundaries; discipline comes more easily when you have a schedule and rules. You can adapt as you go along.
Going freelance may be the most exciting moment of your professional life. But don’t let your excitement cloud your judgment — use ZenBusiness’s guide to deciding to go freelance before you leap to freedom.