The Price of Freedom & Freelancing
The amount of hate stories that go around the bosses, it’s a miracle that some are still alive. It is the naïve who feel that bosses, especially the demanding ones, are a hindrance in their careers and progress. And so ‘being your own boss’, starting up your own business, or becoming a free-lancer, become lucrative prospects, especially for those who find it difficult to manage expectations and work toward someone else’s dreams.
It then becomes an attractive opportunity to quit the corporate job and venture out on your own, to reclaim back your freedom and to live and work on your own terms. While this seems like the ideal life, don’t miss the *asterix marks which points to some serious conditions that apply. Research has shown that within eighteen months, 82% of people who quit their jobs to become freelancers come back to their jobs; 11% bear heavy losses and spiral down further; and a small 7% make it as successful freelancers and small business owners.
Be your own boss has its own pros and cons. While the pros have lured you into signing of your resignation letter, let me take your attention to the cons so you can be prepared to handle them.
– No one to push you. Having spent over two decades in the corporate world as a motivational speaker, let me tell you this, the biggest curse you can call unto yourself is having no one to be answerable to, to have no one pushing you, to have no one believing and betting on you. And the person who does that is your senior, your boss. Every star athlete, artist and performer have a coach, a senior who has their back and pushes them forward even at times they don’t believe in themselves. Not having a boss is a big loss, especially when you do need a larger perspective, some sound advice and some much-needed motivation. Cover up that loss by networking with people smarter, bigger and better than you. Join forums and communities that allow you the exchange of ideas and bandwidth to expand your horizon.
– Lack of discipline. Generally, when people choose to be freelancers or start their small business, the first operation is from home. That invites lack of discipline. If work was a productive work place, you would have a been a star long time ago. Distractions are aplenty at home than work. The television and the kitchen are at your disposal and you have the freedom to take breaks and indulge. The fact is the discipline needs enforcement, and self-enforcement is the toughest thing to do. With no one breathing down your neck to meet deadlines, to put in focused hours of work and to deliver results as expected, professional slack is what destroys most freelancers.
– The expenses will mount up. With no salary check waiting for you at the end of the month, every day of ‘no income’ is an expense for you. And remember, it will cost you money to build your brand and clientele. It will take time for your project to take roots and in that interim you not only have no income, you have a daily living and professional expense ticking on. You have to be able to survive that. The flip side of ‘being your own boss’ is that your stable income will now become a highly variable income.
– Proactive outflow and networking. You need to clock in at least 8 hours of work time every single day if you are going to survive as a freelancer. You need to be proactive in promoting your work, building your client base and networking on the days that you are not actually working. Remember, once you leave the company you are working for, the clients and people related with that company will no longer find interest in you, unless of course your work is exceptionally excellent. It’s a rude shock to some people to realize that once their designation is gone, so is the clients interest in them. Be prepared to get into the hustle and build your base, daily. And when done well, these contacts will be ‘yours’ to keep forever.
– Showcase your work big time online and offline. The company you quit had done a great deal of investment in building their brand so you could find them. So, if you want to be found and discovered, you have to make a conscious effort of promoting your work and your brand. Use the internet to your advantage to promote yourself. Spending hours on social media, that which was a distraction at work will now become your greatest asset if you use it to promote your services well.
– Let scale be the vision. As much as you are starting out on your own now, keep scalability as the big vision. Ultimately to build a successful and sustainable model out of your services, you have to consider duplication and expansion. Keep a look out for talented people and like-minded people with whom you can form your own organization into the future. It’s great to start out as a freelancer and it’s great to have the big game of owning that freedom in the future as being the boss.
Economically we have moved into a great space where your wish has several outlets of opportunities. While it takes courage to step out of your comfort zone to let go of a stable salary and venture out on your own, it also needs some organization skills, discipline and long term vision to sustain it into a profitable model.