With self-employment numbers on the rise and a marketplace open to more remote workers than ever before, self-employment in the tech sector is a more feasible life goal than it has been for decades. Before you step into the realm of being your own boss and cruising past ill-timed deadlines you may want to brush up on what makes for good self-employment habits in a digitally-minded marketplace.
If you’ve chosen to specialise in a small set of languages or only focus on one aspect of development you may find your prospects limited. It’s fairly common to see job postings that require familiarity with a half-dozen languages and fluency in at least two if you’re trying to land a programming gig. Even if you rarely use half of the languages you brush up on occasionally you may find that flexibility helpful in landing multiple contracts by moving between employers freely.
It’s a move that is only feasible in the private sector, considering how working for a single company is likely to see you pigeonholed into your languages for a great many years at a time. Furthermore, you may find you have a distaste for certain languages and can easily steer your career trajectory towards something more agreeable.
Whether you decide to program on a freelance timetable or write about recent developments in Silicon Valley, keeping on top of your self-employment through apps and tech should be second nature. Taxes are often a sticking point that takes freelancers several years to become accustomed to and existing tools can help track your income and expected taxation before quarterly payments come due.
More importantly, tracking the movements of the tech industry means following as many news outlets and sources of information as you can manage. Growing too accustomed to a single app feed for news can leave you at a serious disadvantage if your job relies on staying on the cutting edge. Don’t let personal complacency cut you out of a fast-moving market. Again, it’s all about diversification.
Most employed individuals fear a lapse in employment that can be difficult to explain on a CV. In a way, you can sidestep that fear through self-employment, but the reality of working for yourself is that you are entirely at the mercy of the marketplace you choose to dive into. There are going to be certain employment expectations if you look for freelance work in highly competitive fields that deal with advanced topics. Don’t expect to land a remote job as a lead engineer unless you’ve shown a consistent work ethic over a great many years. Even then, it’s not likely unless your skill set is niche enough to be a bargaining point.
Working as your own boss comes with challenges that revolve around you as an individual and the lack of external motivation can be a killer. You may wind up far more productive while self-employed yet it requires a consistent work schedule and constant effort to achieve landmark goals when the only thing keeping you at your computer is a loose sense of guilt over not working enough.
You’ll have to establish a productive mindset for any field, but tech-oriented jobs tend to involve working with teams and solving time-sensitive problems be it in the field of reporting or coding. Don’t expect to coast your way through deadlines if you want to earn solid referrals and future employment. Flexibility doesn’t mean giving up on schedules entirely.
Tech enthusiasts can find any number of niches to work under, but they all require the same basic work ethic and motivated mindset to produce consistently solid results. Keeping up with a fast-paced industry means working fast and responding to changes in the marketplace even faster. Don’t be left behind just because self-employment and its flexibility sounds more flexible than it may truly be.
By: Samantha Acuna
Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo Small Business.