You can do it. You really can.
You can do it. You really can.
If you have a desire to be a full-time freelancer (or self-employed, or a solopreneur, if you don't like the connotation of freelancer), you can have the power to make it a reality. All it requires is a leap of faith.
A common phrase in support of jumping is, Leap and the net will appear. While that's a great motivator, it's wise to spend time seeking a sign that the net will probably appear.
Before taking a leap of faith, spend some time considering and reflecting upon the changes that will come with being a self-employed person. Here are four major adjustments to consider:
When in business by and for yourself, you are responsible for the cash flow from your business to your personal life.
Something to do before leaping is to design a money management system—figure out how you're going to handle cash flow.
It is not wise to let income earned while freelancing go directly into a personal checking account. One big reason many fail to succeed freelancing is mismanaging income. But it's not that difficult to design a system and run the financial part of a business cautiously (at least at first).
And while it's a good idea to determine how much to stow away before jumping, it's also necessary to continue managing cash flow after the jump. You will want a snapshot of how much you have available to pay your-personal-self—i.e. how much longer you can stay in business without earning another check. It's important to always have an eye on this—to know when it's time to make an adjustment to earn more income, or when you have more than necessary and should invest the spoils.
It's a lot to take on financially—it's important to do your research and have a plan.
For any given client or project, the length of time from ideation to receiving a check is completely unpredictable.
I've had cases where I've had a meeting and received my first check for the project within the next month. And I've also had cases where that process took closer to six months. I've also been involved in idea creation for a project that never occurred (which was a mistake on my part, as I should charge for the discovery phase of a project).
And you will be stiffed—it happens to every single freelancer at some point.
I'm currently owed five figures past due by more than six months. I'm ready to go to court, but it's also not always that simple. In this case, it could be another year or more before I actually receive the money. That's really difficult for a freelancer to account for. My best advice to you is to break payment for larger projects up into at least three milestones, the first one being before the project begins. And at each milestone, stop working as soon as payment is late.
When you freelance for a living, you have no boss (which is one of the best parts!). Yes, there will still be deadlines. But there will also be an endless number of distractions.
You must be capable of motivating yourself if you're going to succeed as a freelancer.
Another one of the best parts about being a full-time freelancer is that, on any given day, you can quit for the day at noon and spend the afternoon outside in the sunshine. And one of the hardest parts about being a full-time freelancer is that, on most days, you shouldn't quit an noon because there is work that should be completed instead.
You run your business. That means you are the CEO, COO, CMO, and CFO, alongside being the actual worker. It can be really difficult to find the time to get the work done when you have so many hats you have to wear.
Finding a digital tool can help with this, but really it's that doing business takes a lot of time, especially as you're getting ramped up. If you are billing hourly, you'd think 40 hours/week is what you should be able to bill. But that's really tough when you consider all the other work you have to do to be able to do your actual work. In most cases, you'd probably have to work at least 50-60 hours to be able to bill for 40.
When you're on salary, it's really easy to disregard unbillable time. Lunches, doctor's appointments, sick children, etc. Those things happen and most employers understand. They can be welcome distractions from the office. But when you're a freelancer, unbillable time is just time in which you aren't able to get work done.