Ditching your job to become a freelancer is a great way to strike out on your own. You can leave behind the restriction of the 9 to 5 routine and instantly be your own boss.
You can work from home rather than doing that commute every day. And you can work the hours that suit you and wear what you like. Best of all, you can do work you enjoy and develop your skills according to your own talents and interests.
But working as a freelancer may not be right for you despite all those great advantages. After all, you might not be able to handle not having a regular salary, not to mention sick pay and paid holidays.
So how do you know if working as a freelancer is right for you? Here are 7 signs to help you decide.
7 signs that you’ve got what it takes to be a successful freelancer
As you read through this list, look at what you can do to improve your situation. For example, you might not have much money in the bank or you may feel wary of doing your own accounts. If that’s the case, set yourself the goal of overcoming those issues before you take the leap to become a freelancer.
1. You can manage your money
When it comes to money, you need two things to manage a freelance life: first, you need enough money in the bank to see you through the early months. You also need money to invest in setting yourself up in business, plus cash for your expenses. It may take a few months to get work done, issue invoices, and get paid. Ensure you can keep going financially until you get your income onto an even keel.
And remember, it’s not just your usual costs that you’ll have to budget for. Make sure you’re able to buy any equipment, professional services, insurance and permits you need to set up as a freelancer.
Remember there are some fundamental qualities you can’t easily change. These include how you feel about having less financial security, your level of experience or your desire to work from home (or at least, work on your own). If you want to succeed as a freelancer, you’ll need to handle having an inconsistent income. Prepare for uncertainty by having some savings set aside so you’re not panicking about money. Otherwise money worries will definitely hamper your success.
When you first start working for yourself, you may experience a feast-or-famine cycle. Sometimes, you might have lots of work and money flowing in. But at other times you may have very little or nothing. Being able to manage your finances and maintain a financial buffer will help you avoid financial stress.
One thing you definitely need before you start working as a freelancer is money in the bank. If you don’t have any, start saving now. Use this time to eliminate unnecessary expenses and make a deliberate effort to reduce your outgoings.
If your finances are already tight, consider freelancing part-time while you’re still working. That way, you can build up a nest-egg, develop a client base and get some experience of working for yourself before you make a full-time commitment.
Finally, while you may not start out with the knowledge and skills to manage your accounts and cash-flow, you need to be willing to learn. Speak to an accountant or get some reliable advice around how to set up your business. There are many different online, automated accounting packages you can use and lots of free advice, which means managing your money is easier than ever before.
2. You’re confident you can get new clients
You’re never going to succeed as a freelancer if you can’t find and keep good clients. This is one of the biggest challenges for many self-employed people because many have no experience of selling. They may actively hate marketing.
Having confidence you can market and sell your services is critical to your success. So get clear about what you’re good at, what you enjoy and start learning how to present yourself and sell your skills.
Focus on doing marketing activities that utilise your best skills and the ones you enjoy. You might have to experiment to start with, but when you know what you’re good and you know what works, you’ll be on the way to doing marketing that brings in new clients on a consistent basis.
Feeling confident you can get clients isonly one side of the story, though. You also need to be able to keep them. Can provide excellent customer service? Are you confident you can build and maintain good relationships with the people you serve? If not, work on your interpersonal skills or hire someone to do that role for you. After all, happy clients will recommend you to others and keep coming back.
3. You’re excited by the prospect of freelancing
Not everyone is suited to working for themselves. They don’t enjoy risk and they like the certainty of a regular salary. But if you’re more excited than scared of the prospect of working freelance, you’ve probably got the mindset, attitude and mentality to succeed.
By the same token, if you’re only interested in freelancing because it means you can get away from your job, then that also shows working for yourself isn’t a good choice. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to book an appointment with a career coach before you make any moves at all. Running away from what you don’t like isn’t going to get you what you want, so get someone to help you figure that out before you make any big moves.
4. You crave freedom and want to work from home
Freedom is probably the number one reason why most freelancers decide to start working for themselves. Some people just aren’t made for routine and don’t flourish when they’re constrained by the demands of an organisation. Rules bore them and make them want to rebel. If this is you, working freelance is definitely going to be a positive step for you.
But if you think working from home means you work whenever you want to, think again. True, you’ll have more flexibility with your time, but you’ll still need to conform sometimes – because that’s what your clients need from you.
5. You’re a good self-manager
When you’re freelance, you’ll no longer have a boss checking up on you all the time. It sounds great, but if you can’t manage your time and energy, you’re going to miss deadlines and lose clients. Being self-motivated and able to push yourself is a must.
But being able to manage yourself isn’t just about getting the work done on time. It’s also about being able to handle working on your own. It’s possible that you’ll miss the buzz of the office and the easy availability of your colleagues. If that’s the case, work in a co-working office one or two days a week so you get out and see other people. Take advantage of networking events too, because as well as helping you get new clients, they’ll also help you make new friends and build a support network.
6. You have years of experience in your field
If you’re going to succeed as a freelancer, you’ll need a lot of experience in your field. The more experience you have, the easier it is to sell your services to others and stand out from your competitors.
Before beginning your freelance career, create a portfolio of your work. Get testimonials from previous clients (even if they were your clients while working for another company) and create some case studies that showcase how you’ve helped others.
When you can establish your expertise in this way, you’ll get your business off the ground fast. More importantly, you’ll have complete confidence that you can provide great quality work, and that makes selling your services far easier.
7. You have supportive family and friends
Balance between work and home life can be difficult to manage when you have a job, but when you work for yourself it can be even harder to strike a balance. That’s why it’s important to keep your work in perspective and have the support of your friends and family.
Make sure your family and friends are aware you might have to work longer hours to get your business off the ground. But… at the same time, give them permission to wave the red flag if they feel you’re becoming a workaholic. You don’t want to lose them. After all, what’s the point of having a thriving business if you’ve nobody to share your successes with?
Is being freelance right for you?
By now, you’ll have an idea of whether being a full-time freelancer is right for you. If not, you probably won’t succeed, so even if you hate your job or are tired of your commute, leaping into self-employment will not be the right choice.
It may be disappointing to admit that, but it doesn’t mean you should stay stuck in a job you hate. If you’re unhappy at work, get some career advice and start making a plan that will give you what you want from your work.
And if you’re excited by the prospect of becoming a freelancer, plan your transition and base your business on your best skills and around work you love to do. Get as much information as you can and be willing to educate yourself around areas that you don’t understand.
At Career Consultants, we can help you set yourself up as a freelancer, so if you need practical help and the support of a coach during this transition, contact us to find out more about how we can help you.
Remote Freelancing – Success & Freedom