So, you’re toying with the idea of giving up the 9 to 5, for something that allows you to be more free and liberating.
You’ve decided you love the idea of being your own boss. You have heard that you can make more money per hour (and keep the profits), you’ll be able to take on a variety of exciting projects (you can flit from job to job like the gorgeous butterfly that you are) and of course, you’ll get time off as and when you need it!
The perfect career, right?
Well, partly. You see, as a Freelancer, being your own boss can also be a major pain in the …. you know what!
If you are seriously considering Freelancing, it is good to be fully aware of some of the pitfalls so that you are fully prepared.
Multiple Hats: Are you ready to wear multiple hats, and be an expert in them all? Being your own boss will mean having to learn the basics in Finance (you will certainly need to do your own bookkeeping to balance the books at the end of the each month); I.T. (the “Techy Guy” that you usually call at work? That will be you); Marketing (essential for searching out those lucrative contracts); Online social networking and blogging (nowadays, an essential part of your Marketing strategy); PR (a godsend for any small business, which will save pounds on the advertising budget) and you can add to the list typist, cook and bottle washer!
Less Security: Freelancers are not protected in the same way that employers are, as you will be self-employed. Do talk to your accountant before starting-up, to see whether you need to be covered by any type of insurance or indemnity.
Day to Day Business: How should you structure your business? Should you be self-employed or should you register a limited company? Should you perhaps use an umbrella company? What costs are involved? How much should you charge for your services? How can you minimise your running costs? Understanding what to do, and how to go about doing them will greatly increase your chance of success.
Managing your time: Are you good at managing your own time? As a Freelancer, time is a literal asset to you. If time is money, then every minute needs to count towards your business. You cannot afford to fritter time away. This means focussing efforts only on the activities that will earn you money, efficiently and effectively.
If you are determined to make a go of Freelancing, don’t give up the day job until you have fully researched your market, to see what is available in your particular field.
Ask yourself what it is you would like to achieve with your Freelancing career. If you have reached a point in your life where you are able to downshift, your financial goals may be less ambitious than someone who needs to earn as much as possible.
Are you a self-starter, who is fully motivated and will stay on track even during the dullest of moments? It can be lonely working as a Freelancer, so perhaps the most important piece of one can give you is to network. Networking with likeminded individuals – both online and offline – will ensure that you have a friendly team of people who understand your challenges, not to mention a valuable resource for when you need to bounce ideas back and forth.
So is Freelancing for you? Could you voluntarily giving up your regular pay increases, bonuses, subsidised travel, health care, gym membership and the like, in exchange for Freelancing and the many challenges it presents?
For many, Freelancing is an extremely rewarding career. Having the flexibility of being able to work around their children’s school runs, school holidays, sports days, countless other activities and to be able to do so from the comfort of their own home, often the answer is a resounding yes.
Mary Cummings has worked as a freelance copywriter, writer and desk top publishing designer for six years. She has recently launched a website which provides advice and support for freelance and self-employed parents at www.workyourway.co.uk.