Laura and Kate are both freelance vets but have had traditional jobs too. These two know all about the risks and rewards of being your own boss. They run through 9 critical questions you need to ask yourself to know if you have what it takes to achieve freelancing success.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who will decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss
9 Questions to Know If You Have What It Takes for Freelancing Success
Freelancing is one of today’s hottest career topics. Many love the idea managing their own careers as “independent workers”, “free agents” or “freelancers.”
The freelance revolution—what The Atlantic has dubbed the “Gig Economy”—has changed the way a lot of us think about work. We’re working for ourselves and finding our own clients.
More than any other generation, we’re pursuing our passions and crafting the careers we want. It’s freeing, exhilarating, and, quite frankly, a little frightening.
In March 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 10 percent of the workforce, or 15.7 million people, were self-employed in the U.S. But this only includes full-time freelancers. The faster growing segment is the part-time and short-term free agent workforce.
According to the Freelancers Union, there were actually 54 million independent workers overall in 2015, and that number is growing fast.
There are many good reasons to freelance, whether you’re doing it as your only job, as a side hustle or just temporarily. As an independent worker, you can usually set your own hours (great for parents!) and decide where you work.
As a freelancer, you own the business, so you have full control over the finances. Plus, you get all the glory when your business succeeds.
But it’s not always easy being your own boss and working out there on your own. Think carefully before you decide if freelancing is right for you. To make it easier to achieve freelancing success, we’ve put together 9 key questions to ask yourself:
Question #1: Do you like working alone?
Many freelance gigs require you to work alone. A lot. Can you handle working solo, or do you prefer tackling projects with a team?
You need to be proactive about connecting with others so you don’t become a hermit and you maintain valuable connections in your industry.
Question #2: How’s your financial situation?
Freelancing is risky and uncertain, so you have to prepare yourself both financially and emotionally far in advance. You may have to live on less or have a Plan B to pick up additional income when needed.
Major points to consider for freelancing success:
- Start-up costs of creating your own business
- Insurance coverage
- Self-employment taxes
- Investing for retirement
- Should you freelance on the side before quitting a job?
Question #3: Do you have a lot of self-discipline?
Just because you’ll have flexible hours as a freelancer doesn’t necessarily mean you get to work less. In fact, many freelancers work more as they’re building up a business.
You have to be disciplined about setting work hours sticking to them. You also need to make sure you set aside enough down time to recharge.
Question #4: Will you be comfortable marketing yourself?
Most successful independent workers spend at least 1/3 of their time marketing their services, especially in the early stages. To achieve freelancing success, you’ll need to promote yourself using social media, cold prospecting, elevator speeches, and personal pitches.
Question #5: How are you at taxes and bookkeeping?
When you become self-employed you also become a business manager and will have to deal with taxes, invoicing and other adminis-trivia. Ask other freelancers or friends for recommendations for a tax accountant or financial advisor–or use a site like Wealthminder.com.
Question #6: Can you deal with clients?
For most freelancers, it’s best to find a group of clients who want you to work for them regularly. That ensures you a more steady income, and you’ll get referrals that bring you more work.
You have to be able to negotiate your rates, and terms and conditions of the work you deliver. You may even have to deal with unpleasant client problems once in a while.
Create a Scope of Work (SOW) for each client and get a signed agreement – you may need an attorney to create a template for you.
Question #7: Is your family supportive?
Working for yourself is a life change – even if you’re just doing it part-time. And any change in your life affects those around you. It’s important to make sure your family is on board with your decision to freelance—and that they can support you emotionally as well as financially if necessary.
Question #8: How adaptable are you?
You’ll have to adapt to a new work style as a freelancer, but you also need to adapt to the needs of your clients and the marketplace. Can you change the product or service you plan to offer if clients want something else or you are not getting enough business?
Question #9: Are you realistic about the market?
In our very first podcast “4 Steps to Turn Your Passion into Profit,” we talked about how to assess your skills and research if there is a market for them. For freelancing success, you’ll need to know if there is a real demand for the services you offer and if your rates are in line with your financial needs.
Constantly assess what’s trending in the market so you can adapt or expand your freelance services to stay competitive.
Richer Life Lab practical
Your Richer Life Lab homework for this week is to work through each of these questions and write down the answers. Be honest with yourself. You’ll only be financially successful at freelancing and you’ll only really like it if you’re truly cut out for it.
We want to hear about your freelancing success! Let us know if you try out one of the tips we suggested in the show or have other recommendations that we can share with listeners in a future show.
Send us a Lab Report to firstname.lastname@example.org or record a voice message on this page. You can delete and re-record your message if you need to.
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