It might sound lovely – oodles of ‘free’ time to spend doing something you really enjoy. No boss to answer to. No long office commutes. No politics. How hard can it be? Well unless you’re prepared to really work at it – very hard. So hard in fact that countless freelancers end up having to rely on other part-time jobs to supplement their income, until they eventually give up and slide back into full-time work for someone else’s company. This usually happens for 3 reasons: lack of financial planning, mistaking freelancing for free time, and consequently not having enough customers to sustain the business, or finding ‘going it alone’ just too lonely – it’s surprising how many people do ‘need’ that corporate structure, the meetings round the table, the pat on the back. So don’t be fooled, freelancing is not for the faint-hearted. If you want to set up your own business doing something you truly love, but also have very real bills to pay and mouths to feed, be realistic about what you can achieve.
Here’s 12 questions you need to answer YES to, if you want to freelance successfully:
1) Is there a sustainable market for your business?
2) Are you passionate about what you want to do?
3) Do you have at least 6 month’s savings in the bank to rely on while you get started?
4) Do you have a business plan?
5) Do you have the required tools to do your job and compete effectively for business against your competitors? (hardware/specialised software/car etc.)
6) Can you work alone and are you self-disciplined enough to work from home?
7) Are you organised enough to manage your own paperwork and remember to invoice your clients?
8) Do you have the time and space it takes to set up your own business?
9) Do you know where to find potential clients?
10) Do you live close to or within easy travelling distance of potential customers?
11) Do you have the self-confidence to actively network?
12) Is your business broad enough to be able to diversify during dry spells?
If you can answer yes to at least 10 of these, then nothing should be stopping you in the next chapter of what will be a very rewarding career. And a chance to live your passion, rather than just dream about it.