The Real Truth About Working Alone
Do you dream of leaving your job behind?
Perhaps for you, freelancing would turn your dream into reality. You can work from home (in your pajamas, if that's how you roll), you've got no boss to appease, and the only limit to your salary is how hard you're willing to work.
When you're thinking about taking the plunge and going freelance, it's easy to see all the positives of being your own boss. It's great to be aware of all the positives of working for yourself. If you're brave enough to do it, or if circumstances leave you with no other choice than freelancing, you will have a new freedom you've never known before.
But is it really the dream it's cracked up to be?
By now, you've probably guessed that freelancing isn't always a dream life. Let's see if you've got what it takes to be a freelancer.
Here are the truths of the freelance dream, and their shadow sides:
You get to be your own boss
You'll no longer have anyone telling you what to do and when. On the flipside, you must be self-motivated and well organized. You'll have no one chasing you to make sure you're finishing projects on schedule. Additionally, instead of one boss, you'll have many different "bosses." You'll be reporting to your clients, and they will all have different needs and expectations.
You choose your own hours
If working 9-5 doesn't suit your circadian rhythm, or if you've got young children to care for, you can adjust your work hours accordingly. On the other hand, you'll be working far harder than you've ever worked before. While you'll likely only do 3-5 billable hours per day, you'll spend many more hours at your desk on work-related tasks. There's no point slacking at the water cooler because now time really is money.
You can work from home
Whether that's at your kitchen table, in the corner of your bedroom, or a dedicated office. The downside to this is that you'll never feel that you've completely escaped your work during downtime. You'll need to learn to relax even when there's work to be done. Additionally, you won't always be at home while you work. You'll have to get out of the house to meet with clients.
No more annoying co-workers
The only person you'll have to get along with is yourself. On the other hand, constant solitude can be a challenge. If you're someone who works better in a crowd, it's a good idea to find a co-working space.
You pick your clients and projects
No more having boring or unrewarding work foisted on you. That said, it's your job to do the work that's required to find clients. If you don't have clients on your books who are commissioning projects, you don't get paid.
The harder you work, the more you earn
All the hours you put into your business will seem worthwhile when you realize how much you're earning from it. However, the extra you earn will have to cover your healthcare insurance and pay for vacation time and any other benefits you want. Also, you'll be responsible for invoicing clients and keeping track of your earnings. Apps such as Cashboard can help with this, but you will need some aptitude with numbers.
In other words, to work for yourself, you need to be self-disciplined, creative, hard-working, entrepreneurial, and happy with your own company. You'll also need basic skills in marketing and finance to keep your freelance business afloat.
You can achieve your freelance dream. Millions of people around the world work for themselves. You don't need to be special to make it happen. You do need drive and the willingness to try new things.
Setting sail as a freelancer is an exciting time. You're free and you're starting your own business! If things get hard, remember the old proverb: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Embrace your challenges as learning opportunities. The more challenges you overcome, the greater impetus you will have to keep going.
You'll likely find starting out to be the most difficult time in your freelance career. You'll have to get used to working for yourself, find your first clients, and put processes in place for handling your finances. You'll work a lot harder than you've ever worked in your life. Know that things will get easier, and it will be worth it in the end.
Over to You
I'd love to hear your thoughts on what it takes to be a freelancer. If you're just starting out as a freelancer, what are your biggest fears? What questions do you have that you've struggled to find answers for? Share your struggles in the comments.
If you're a seasoned freelancer, what would you say are the biggest myths about freelancing?
comments powered by Disqus