5 things to think about before freelancing
After spending 10 years troubleshooting computers and software, I decided to switch things up a bit, sorta flip the script. It was time to retire from the long hours of helping someone else reach their goals. I think it was Tony Gaskin that said, “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” So I and said goodbye and begin a new career as a freelance graphic designer. The ideal dream, no boss (technically each client is the boss, but that’s another story), set my hours, and pick my tasks. No clock, no badge, no dress code, no kidding?
That’s the dream, right? In reality, I am sure you know, becoming a successful freelancer isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is not for the faint of heart. On the contrary, it takes a lot of patience, persistence, and hard work. Whether you are considering becoming a freelance graphic designer, Webmaster, writer or programmer, here are five points to think about when deciding if freelancing is right for you:
What product or service you will offer
If you enjoy making cakes, selling or repairing electronics or creating mobile apps, you may, indeed, have a talent that can translate into a full-time business. If building medieval swords (yes, that’s a thing) or playing fantasy football is your passion, however, be sure to research the income potential before quitting your day job. Do you have a marketable skill, talent or hobby that you would like to share with others?
Budget and then budget again
This step is a crucial, particularly if you bring home the bacon (vegan bacon). If so, you can still start your own freelance business, but you will have to plan ahead to ensure the needs of your loved ones are met during the transition from your current job to your new venture. Talk it over with your partner and create a game plan. This will not only include managing your current bills but emergencies as well as setting funds aside to invest in your business. Are you financially prepared to make the necessary sacrifices?
Ask for help
Ask family and friends for their help by sharing your business with their friends and acquaintances. In addition, seek out the support of professional groups and organizations in your community. Most cities have meet-up groups whose members may have an interest in the service or product your business provides. If not, create one. Cities also have a women’s professional networks or marketing groups, SBA support, and other resources. Do you have a network of support available to you? If not, what will it take to put that network in place?
While most freelancers prefer this career as opposed to a traditional 9-5, others find it too uncertain. Those that stick it out seem to possess a similar tenacity. They are independent, forward thinking, objective and analytical, while others are creative, passionate, flexible and communicative. We know our products and services, and we know our clients. Above all, we are comfortable making difficult decisions and taking risks. The question is, are you?
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Through education, experience, and heredity, we have each been blessed with strengths and saddled with weaknesses. It is crucial to each and every business owner to identify those strengths and weaknesses. I suggest getting out a sheet of paper and dividing it in half. On one side, list your strengths: things like ‘good with people’, ‘business savvy’, ‘decision-making’. On the other side, list your weaknesses such as ‘trouble saying no’ or ‘poor organization skills’.
After you finish your list, invite someone close to you to genuinely critique it. This could be your spouse, friend or professional colleague. Be prepared to accept unpalatable comments. And afterward think about your strengths and weaknesses, with a bias to making your strengths your assets. If you’re comfortable handling people, then expect your customer service to be good. If you’re creative, you may attract customers who seek quality. If you lack business acumen or not good with numbers, consider outsourcing to other professionals. As an appreciation, they may send new business your way. Are you ready to maximize your strengths and delegate other tasks?
Once you’re through analyzing these five points, and after assessing your resources, it’s time to write a solid action plan. This is the easy part. Because you have all the information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to make a sound decision about whether or not freelancing is a good fit for you. Who knows, It might become your new full-time job.