IS freelancing right for you? How do you know if you’re ready to become a freelancer? More importantly, do you have what it takes to be successful at freelancing?
Around 2002, I was invited by a friend to join in a project as a freelance programmer. The pay is very good and the hours, flexible. I accepted even though the work is only guaranteed for nine months and it may or may not continue after that.
My friend didn’t accept the job, but fortunately for me, the project continued for another 2 years. However, after that gig, I switched back and forth between corporate jobs, freelancing and a mix of both.
If you were my friend back then, would you have accepted the invitation and joined me or not?
Some are terrified of being a freelancer while others would pick flexibility of freelancing over the stability of a regular day job. Others simply follow the money.
Freelancing offers a lot of benefits like more money, more control of your time and, finally, a chance to make decisions without worrying about your not-so-smart boss’ comments. Are these enough to motivate you?
Motivation will get you started but the journey towards self-employment and success is a long and arduous one. You need to assess your values, beliefs and skills to find out if your personality fits the life of a freelancer.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Are you excited about the idea of being responsible for your destiny?
I bet you would say you are in charge of your destiny. As an employee, are you sure you’ll get promoted next year and get that raise so you could finally buy a Nissan Z? You don’t.
Freelancing neither guarantees the Nissan Z as well. But it does guarantee control of your time and making your own decisions. If you’re not comfortable thinking where and when you’re going to get your next paycheck, then freelancing may not be for you.
Can you work under pressure?
I bet you can, but freelancing has pressure you don’t normally get at work—irregular income. Whatever stresses you out at work, at the end of the month you still receive a paycheck, which (ideally) should be more than enough to buy a couple of beers or a Thai massage.
With freelancing, you deal not only with the pressure of deadlines and commitments, but also with cash flow problems, delayed payments (God forbid), taxes and other money-related mumbo jumbos.
The ugly truth is freelancing is more demanding than a regular day job.
Do you like to be alone?
Freelancing requires you to be comfortable with working alone. Although there will still be instances where you need to work with another person but for most of the time, you are on your own.
From the important things, like preparing for a project bid onto the stuff you normally take for granted if you had a day job like the kind of paper and the design your business card. All these things will be done by you.
Freelancing could also take a toll on your social life that you may want to go back to a normal day job if only to be able to work with other “normal” people. (Yes, you’ll miss having officemates).
Are you persistent and disciplined?
Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you could take a vacation anytime you want to. If you are freelancing, chances are you can’t take any.
In the corporate world, the business still runs when you take a vacation because someone else takes over your tasks. In the freelance world, your tasks just pile up when you take a break.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break but between meeting a deadline and taking a vacation, you would choose the former.
The good news is since you have control in a lot of things: being organized can solve many of your problems; but that’s another story.
In summary, going freelance requires responsibilities beyond what you normally have as an employee.
Your day job provides the structure, resources and support system so you could get things done. If you go into freelancing, all these corporate advantages will go away. So if you are reluctant to take additional responsibilities, freelancing may not be for you.
Remember that freelancing is not a job replacement. It’s an entirely different ball game—you need to think long and hard whether it’s the right move for you.
Fitz Villafuerte is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. To learn more about personal-financial planning, attend the 86th RFP program this October 2020. To inquire, e-mail [email protected].