- 4th May, 2018
Want to become a freelancer? Five things you should consider.
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Who hasn’t day dreamed about being a freelancer , going it alone and being your own boss at sometime? But is removing the security of corporate life everything you are wishing for. Here are five questions to ask yourself about freelancing before requesting your P45.
Do you have skills that the market needs?
The first step is to investigate if you have skills that are in demand and companies will pay for. What exactly is it you do and how are you going to create a freelance job title that people will understand? You also need to consider if you have enough experience as that is what will be paid for. Being able to create a portfolio or CV of the experience you have is essential. If you are not starting your life as a freelancer with a client already to work with, think about testing the water and doing some work on the side of your main job to try and test the water.
No matter how cheaply you think you can live or how little money you think you need to start a business you need some. The thing that stumps lots of people and returns them back to the workforce is the lack of money. Before you take the leap make sure you have enough cash to keep you going. If you don’t have enough for 3 to 6 months don’t even, consider it. Time goes very quickly when you are looking for someone to pay you.
Don’t just think the next 3/6 months think about how much you will need to earn, if for instance you want to get a mortgage or what you will do about a pension. When you are freelance, all this is down to you and you alone, so it is worth putting some thought into it now.
A quick hour consultation with a business start-up expert or accountant/business advisor will help you to make sure that your plan for the immediate and the future.
Do you have the right personality?
Often, we look at someone freelancing and think that it is so good to be flexible and adventurous with your time. We often miss out on how disciplined they are in making sure they have enough work to pay a salary. Some people forget to realise that they need a structure that an employer provides to make them achieve success. This is no bad thing, but it means you really must consider, if it is all down to you, can you really make it happen.
You are going to be alone a lot – can you do this – do you get your energy from people? Loneliness can be the biggest downfall of freelancers so make sure you are equipped to cope with this.
You will be your own sales person, worker, accountant, HR manager all rolled in to one person – just you. Will you be able to fill these roles or are you capable of finding the support around you to act as these roles.
A good thing to consider is where your workspace will be. Are you ok at home and can you find proper workspace that will not be distracting or are you going to be better leaving the house each day and going to a place of work such as a coworking space?
Can you network efficiently?
As we said above, as a freelancer, you are going to have to be your own sales person and this is going to mean networking. If this idea sends you cold, then how can you approach networking and be successful and comfortable with selling your skills. Freelancers who are well connected to others tend to do best. Joining networking groups or enrolling on freelance training courses are a great way of building on your skills, making valuable connections and talking to other people in the same situation. On top of this there is sometimes free food and drink which helps you with number 2 – cash flow!
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What are your reasons for becoming a freelancer?
Make this clear. As a freelancer, you will have good days and bad days and through all of that you need to keep clear your reasons for deciding to be a freelancer. It might have been for a better work-life balance, to choose more meaningful work, to earn more money or the freedom to work from anywhere. It is always good to have a reminder of why you decided to take the leap. It will keep you motivated and passionate.
Case Study of a Freelancer – a rough plan is better than no plan.
5 Years ago, Melanie had an intense job managing projects for new hotel builds. Her role was to set the hotel up operationally. When the builders moved out, everything from the coffee machine to the maintenance man needed to work efficiently and to budget. This took many skills including financial planning, recruitment, training, and project management. She had been doing this for 18 years really enjoyed it. However, the intense amount of work and the pressure as each project ended was getting more fatiguing.
The part she loved more then anything was training and putting in the development plans for employees, especially the management team. “I was working away from home at least 5 days a week and often doing 80 hours a week which was hard going” she explained. “I had a great amount of autonomy to work as I wanted to which I enjoyed but the sheer amount of work was exhausting”.
She started to think increasingly about quitting her job and starting to offer development and training to companies and individuals. In a strange twist of fate, a supplier at the hotel project she was working on was involved in a project to mentor kids between 14 and 18 in schools to try and ensure they had the motivation to follow a good career path in anything they wanted rather than simply being educated in schools. This changed Melanie’s motivation as she knew there were lots of management consultants working with large companies and this had always dissuaded her from taking this leap. Everyone seemed to be getting fed up with their jobs and becoming a consultant.
This led her to formulate a vague plan to target schools and further education colleges. Working on development skills with students in the same way she had developed senior managers in her work with Hotels. The supplier she had first discussed this with became her first client and the rest is history.
“I was totally unaware of what a great source of business my existing network would bring. Although I had thought I would venture outside the hotel industry, and to some extent I have. I am still mainly involved in developing young people and encouraging them to choose hospitality as a career. This is an industry which is very people short. It is also an industry where you can join at 16 with no qualifications, work hard, get lots of experience and eventually become the Managing Director of a huge company. This really excites me, and I am now working with schools, colleges and NVQ students developing this much sort after skills shortage”.
After 5 years Melanie says she has come a long way. “When I first started I was scared that people would not find my skills useful or would pay for them. Now I have a one-page standard pitch and I know exactly what projects I want to work on. This in turns gives me the flexibility I desired and the opportunity to work on only projects that fulfil me.
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