You’re ready to freelance and create your own dream job. Everyone says you can follow your passion and turn your favorite hobby into a career. There must be some truth to their advice, right?
You set out to tackle starting your own business and you tread water for months. Maybe you even lose money.
It’s time to give up. You didn’t make it, so you go back to work for your boss with your tail between your legs. Freelancing wasn’t right for you, or maybe you just did it all wrong.
Let’s diagnose what happened.
For starters, you likely didn’t have a solid plan. Did you have potential clients picked out? Did you have a savings plan? Did you exit your job gracefully or start working on your freelance business on the side?
These are all questions you need to consider before you start freelancing. The plan once you commit to freelancing is just as important, but start here.
To answer some of these questions for you – never start freelancing by simply quitting your day job. Set back enough money to support you for a month while you’re still employed. Start freelancing while you still have a steady income, then leave your job with grace. Put in your notice so you can come back if you need to.
If you aren’t willing to accept these simple truths, you will fail as a freelance entrepreneur. Working for yourself means you’ll put in long hours and not get paid for doing things like your own taxes and looking for clients.
How do I know if I can handle it?
Being your own boss isn’t for everyone. You may have talents and interests that make you a fantastic employee. There’s nothing wrong with that. Here are a 13 yes/no questions that you might want to answer before you consider flying solo:
- Do you have a skill you can sell or an interest you can develop in to a skill?
- Are you comfortable with sticking to a budget?
- Can you write well?
- Can you accept failure and move forward?
- Do you know how to do research?
- Can you do your own taxes?
- Are you willing to sacrifice some of your social life?
- Are you on good terms with your current employer?
- Can you manage your own priorities well?
- Do you have enough money saved to live for a month without a paycheck?
- Do you work better when someone else manages your tasks?
- Are you wanting to get rich quick?
- Do your skills work better as part of someone else’s business? (Home health care, factory management, sandwich making, etc.)
- Do you prefer structured days?
If you answered “yes” to most of the questions 1-10, freelancing is a great option, unless you answered “yes” to questions 11-14.
Let’s break it down.
Freelancing is simply being independent of a full-time employer, selling a skill that you’re good at. You obviously need a skill to sell and you need to function independently.
No one will automagically deduct taxes from your paycheck, no one will find clients for you, no one will tell you what you need to do and when you need to do it.
If you don’t know how to direct yourself, you will fail at freelancing.
If you can’t stick to a budget for food, business expenses, and you don’t have some money in savings for hard times, you may fail as a soloist. You don’t necessarily need to know how to do your own taxes, but understanding how taxes can work for or against you is extremely useful as a freelancer.
Always be on good terms with your employer if you can help it. It’s good to be able to go back to your job if freelancing doesn’t work out for you.
You are going to fail at something. It’s good to have a backup plan, like going back to your job, or you can accept your failure, figure out what went wrong, then move forward with a better plan.
Don’t let your nightmare become a reality
We have more than a few stories of freelancing nightmares we could share. Realize that it’s not hopeless, but it’s not an easy path, either. With effort and fortitude, it’s worth the trouble for the right people.
Do you have any insights? Do you think you could succeed with the right mindset? Let us know in the comments.