Assess Yourself ! Are You Cut Out to be a Freelancer?
So, you’ve been kicking around the idea of becoming a freelancer. You’re not alone!As much as 1/3 of today’s workforce has answered the gig economy’s siren song. But what should one consider before taking the plunge? Evaluate your freelancer–istic tendencies with our handy quiz. The more Yeses than Nos, the more you’re ready to become a solopreneur! Does the idea of pursuing your passion sound dreamy? Ok, ok – this is kind of a throw-away question. But it might be the single most attractive aspect of going solo. Freelancing allows you to strip away the undesirable responsibilities of a corporate role and zero in on the parts that take you to your happy place. Your heart is light. Your creative juices are flowing. And you get a rush every time you deliver work you loved doing for a happy client. Are you an uber-organized, laser-focused, disciplined self-starter? Freedom and flexibility aren’t the only things that come with freelancing – so do distraction and procrastination temptations. With no day-to-day supervisor to monitor progress, self-management, motivation, reliance, and discipline are common traits of successful freelancers. There’s a direct correlation between high productivity and earning potential. Cranking out projects makes room for new ones and establishes your reputation as someone who gets things done. Are you prepared to be a CEFOMO? Um, that would be Chief Executive Financial Operations Marketing Officer. While it’s wonderful to focus on perfecting your craft, don’t forget that you’re also running a small business. So that means accounting, financial planning, IT, business strategy, legal and tax issues are now your responsibility. And don’t forget self-promotion and marketing – which brings us to… Are you ready to ABS? Always Be Selling. To make a successful go at independence, the hustle for new gigs never ends. Even after establishing a set of regular clients, freelancers have to sniff out the next project often before the one at hand is done. And now’s not the time to get humble – you must become a shameless self-promoter. Always be ready with an elevator speech about what you do, what you’ve done and for whom you’ve done it. You must become a serial networker, reaching out to former colleagues, bosses, family, friends, neighbors – even the mailman. Sales are now on your plate too. Do you have a good sense of self–worth and feel confident demanding it? And by worth, we don’t mean the warm and fuzzy kind. Novice freelancers often focus on their previous annual salary as the benchmark for financial success. But in order to earn a living, market themselves (think website, business cards, and more) and cover expenses once shouldered by an employer (like employment taxes, healthcare, technology and office supplies), freelancers have to charge a premium rate. Many freelancers are not prepared to ask for what they need, or stick to their guns when clients want to negotiate rates down Are you ready to give up your social life and political affiliations (the office ones, that is)? There’s a reason it’s called flying solo. Freelancers often work alone, from home – which might get very old for someone who was once Mayor of the Watercooler with a hearty appetite for office politics. But with the rise of freelancing, there are more shared workspaces available. And you might land a client who wants you to work onsite. But even then you’re just visiting. A dedicated desk, phone line, rolley chair and other corporate swag are probably not in the cards for a pinch hitter like you. Are you good at taking the heat from multiple critics with grace? To make freelancing lucrative it will require working on multiple projects and for multiple clients – and along with praise you will have to listen to their criticism. There’s no other team member to hide behind. It’s just you in the clearing. Learning to manage clients is key to success – managing expectations, boundaries, rounds of edits, and deadlines. And doing it all with a service-oriented smile. Happy clients are repeat clients, and advocates for brand You. Are you prepared to handle both feast AND famine? Before taking the leap of freelancing faith, better be sure to have a financial cushion to land on. There may be times when you have more projects than hours in the week to work on. But there will probably also be extended project-less periods. And, you might want to take a vacation or a sick day – no work means no pay. Plus you must be prepared for the occasional client that’s slow to pay or, worse, a deadbeat. If these notions of uncertainty, risk, and money management seem daunting, freelancing might not be for you. Are you okay with replacing a clear career path with an indirect career ramble? With a corporate career, there’s a fairly predictable, ladder-like climb that most professionals take. But a freelancing career may look more like a lattice. Consider whether you’re comfortable with the stalls or detours that might shape your career journey. If this seems more like an exciting adventure than a scary prospect, freelance on! As with any career decision, there are many pros and cons to consider before making your move. Today, freelancing is an increasingly attractive and accepted career option – whether a temporary solution during an employment gap or a long-term lifestyle choice. But, if you do decide to strike out on your own, remember to position yourself near a mirror the next time you want to kvetch about your boss!