Monday, 30 November 2015

Living the Freelance Life - Part 1

Bursting the Freelance Bubble
Tree growing out of a palm full of coins

The idea of freelancing, of being your own boss, sounds great doesn’t it? To have the freedom to work when and where you choose, and how much or little you wish is a powerful incentive for the freelance life.

Yet here are some very good reasons why you shouldn’t choose it:

  • You look forward to your holidays. Because you’re working hard to keep clients happy and get their work done you have less time for regular breaks. When you’re an employee colleagues step in to take over your tasks when the annual holiday comes round. As a freelancer you have no such luxury. You’re responsible for all aspects of your business and being away from the job for any time could lose you potential work and clients.
  • You need a regular income. There's no employment contract, no regular income as a freelancer. There’s no health insurance or work place pension either, and you pay your own National Insurance and tax. If you like to be looked after by an employer and get a regular salary paid into your bank account, freelancing is not for you. As a freelancer you may get a good income for some months, for others it will be slow. When you are starting out it could even be non-existent. You’ll have to manage your own budgets and cash flow and keep your bank or other creditors happy.
  • You like people. I’m not saying a freelancer is a loner, but if you can’t do without the office banter, lunch with workmates, hourly coffee breaks and chats round the water cooler, you probably won’t like freelancing. Running your own business, especially when you start, means spending a lot of time on your own, and it does help if you’re happy in your own company (pun intended).
  • You owe money. If you have debts, perhaps a large mortgage, loans, credit cards, and a big chunk of your monthly outgoings goes towards paying them off, then it may be prudent to hold back on the freelancing ambitions. Managing money is a crucial part of being a freelancer, and if you start on the back foot in that respect, the pressure on you to succeed is going to be so much greater.
  • You like to buy stuff. If you like buying trinkets, cars, games or jewellery, and regularly eat out at expensive restaurants, then freelancing may not be for you. We freelancers are tight. We view money as a resource and managing it is one of the prime skills of the freelancer. If you take up the challenge of self-employment or freelancing, money will become more important to you. You won’t be a slave to it, because that’s not good, but it won’t be numbers on a bank statement any more. Money flows differently to and from you when you’re a freelancer. A healthy respect for it is paramount (that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself when you’ve earned enough of it).

So why the heck would you want to be a freelancer?

Here’s the good part; you’ve read the reasons why you shouldn’t do it, and probably added some reasons of your own, but you’re still interested, even keen to get started. That’s great, because what I really wanted to tell you in this article is that the freelance life is fantastic. If you do it right, choose your business well, start relatively debt free, and are happy with your own company, then the benefits to health, wealth, personal satisfaction, and even relationships, can be enormous.

If you put in the right amount of time, research and dedication to your chosen business then you will have a rewarding time ahead. You’ll have the possibility of earning more money in a shorter time than your current job will give you. You’ll be your own boss, have the freedom to make decisions, be appreciated by your clients and be in charge of your own destiny.

In Part 2 I’ll be putting the case for the freelance life. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity. As illustrated above, it’s not for everyone but if it suits you and you suit it, it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life.

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