After what you’ve heard from people that a freelancing career can be very lucrative and enticing, you might want to consider a lot of things first. Sure, it is inviting to be your own boss and work at your own time – even sometime without having to come up with reports that are not really being read in meetings. It can be liberating to finally know you make the decisions about where you want to go in your career. However, you must know that as a virtual entrepreneur there are no guaranteed paycheques and you need to work everything you know to find people to trust you enough with projects.
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
While the benefits of working from home seem very attractive, what with Social Media bustling with people talking about how they gradually got their financial freedom and work-life balance through telecommuting, it’s not something that you easily jump into without taking into consideration several critical factors. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a slum and borrowing money to get by while still struggling to find that solid rock to hold on to. If you’re giving it some serious thought, here are the 7 most important things you might want to heed before taking that suit off and shoving it down the bottom of your wardrobe.
Plan Your Financial Actions Based On Your Goals & Your Current Situation
Before deciding to set up a home office, you should make plans about your financial targets and how you’ll go about meeting them. Carefully plan your strategy to get clients and have a sheet ready to write your projected income and your budget down. It helps to constantly remind you of how much you need to spend on anything and how much earnings you’ve got to work for.
A lot of virtual entrepreneurs fail to do this as they have not grasped the whole concept of regular employment. What you need to be aware of is that you need to have saved enough to get by while client-hunting. Most people would easily just quit their regular jobs sans the savings to embark on a freelancing career; and they end up vulnerable to a personal emergency or a downturn leading them to debt.
Remember that freelance earnings can become sporadic. They do not come in regularly and consistently. There will be dry seasons and you need to be prepared for them. If you want to become a full time freelancer, consider having a 6-month-income worth of savings to make sure you got yourself covered in times of financial emergencies.
A health insurance plan, together with your government obligations and social security contributions are also a few more financial factors to heed. We often forgo this thought but we’re not always young and healthy. It is always better to have something to cover us financially if in case we fall ill.
Convert A Part of Your Home Into An Office
While your home looks to be very comfortable to get the job done, there is a sizeable risk of you getting distracted. What with everything from your bed to the sofa and the television being about. Even though you are your own boss and you can work anytime you want, there are things that you need to have total control of when it comes to what’s at home and who you’re living with. You cannot possibly focus on getting some work done while someone else at home tries to have a natter with the television blaring in the background.
You need to make some rules here, whether you have someone living with you or not. More so, you need to have a dedicated space at home for your work. There’s a difference between working conveniently in your own time from home and being way too comfortable that you’re not accomplishing anything at all.
You might also want to set a schedule here – maybe not exactly the way schedules work in a 9-5 job but at least allot specific times for leisure, errands, household chores, and Do Not Disturb modes. This ensures that you and everybody else know when you’re working and when they can be messing about.
It’s Not Easy Being Your Own Boss
Being surrounded by colleagues in a regular job makes you used to friendly banters and regular check-ins with everyone. On the other hand, freelancing leaves you with all the communications and negotiations with your clients. You’re supposed to do now what your immediate supervisor or manager used to do, whilst not having a co-worker to rant on about the difficulties you are having.
It’s very different working with clients compared to working with your boss in a full time job. With the latter, they’re the ones dealing with your office client’s demands. When you decide to be your own boss, this means you’re going to have to deal with some demanding clients along the way – some requiring courtesies and direct communication regularly.
Another thing that makes freelancing a lot different is recognition. In a full time job, you have your colleagues and your managers to give you credit for a job well done, whilst working on your own only leaves you with good compensation and the occasional feedback from clients. What you can do to feel worthy of what you’re doing is to recognise your own achievements and find time to celebrate them following their completion.
You’re Now Running A Business
A change of mindset from being an employee for hire to a virtual entrepreneur may be needed here. You may not need to abruptly do that but a gradual change will help to make sure you know the difference. For one, you need to know you’re not just marketing yourself and your skills now but yourself as a brand, as opposed to answering interview questions when applying for a position in a company you want to work for. You’re not just looking to contribute your skills to a corporation, but instead you’re turning yourself into a credible business brand – considering the goods and services you are to offer.
Treat yourself as a business owner instead of a mere freelancer for hire – this somewhat makes one more valuable and less dispensable. This sort of presentation of yourself will put your prospects under the impression that you are taking your “business” seriously. And when things start to progress, work on setting up your own business entity.
When marketing your products, on the other hand, you need to be able to find prospects online and offline at a given time, and be more assertive in presenting yourself and what you can offer your clients. If you’re not ready to search clients on your own, you may want to consider learning the ins and outs of various online freelance marketplaces to be sure you’re signed up with a credible one, showing great potential for growth.
On top of that, make sure you’ve got something to show your clients. A clean website detailing your personal information, skills, the services you offer, and sample work may attract more potential clients, besides looking for them in freelancing platforms.
You’re Hurting The Marketing By Putting A Bid Cheap For A Project
Always be fair to yourself and the market when freelancing. Although cheap pricing for services may be attractive to some clients, projects are more often awarded to freelancers who are bidding fairly and focus more on how they can deliver the job and why they are the best pick out of the bunch.
Charging your clients for the service will depend on the market value of your skills. Freelancers usually have a look at their competition in the industry, compare it with what they were earning as former employees, and then directly compare it to what the a client-base pay their contractors on the average. This does not include the percentage of a justified amount of the tools you will need to pay for yourself and how much time it takes to seal a contract and other “back-office” tasks like invoices and reports. This is not overcharging. This is a realistic estimate of how much value you have as a service provider.
Putting up a market-competitive rate for your services can simplify your business. Find out what beginners are charging compared to the seasoned ones and those that are merely in the middle of making it better. Know your worth and value and establish a freelancer rate based on what your abilities are worth.
Freelancers who think it is ideal to under-charge their clients for services actually hurt other freelancers. Besides, they are setting a really low standard for service delivery quality.
Familiarise Yourself With Sending Reports, Invoices, and Bills
This is probably one of the rather arduous tasks of freelancing, especially if you’re not familiar with it. Imaging having to regularly create a task completion report, an invoice calculation, and sending the bill to your clients. It might take you a while to work on it but as soon as you’re well versed, you’ll have no problems doing that.
If you’re signed up with a freelancing platform with guaranteed payments, your invoices and reports are automatically generated and all you need to do is download them for your reference and for tax purposes. Otherwise, you may need to create a spreadsheet and a tracker of your own to make sure you’re not missing out on a task that needs to be billed.
To save you time, you can just create an invoice template so you just need to fill in the details and forward to your clients afterwards.
Moreover, you need learn when to expect your payments to come in. As soon as invoice is sent, give your client, ideally, at least 10 days to review your completion report for a given period and another 5-7 days to send in their payments. For instance, if you agreed to be paid on a weekly basis, expect to receive your payment a fortnight following the end of the workweek, given that you have sent your reports and invoice by the closing of that business week. Do this regularly and you can expect the payments to come right on time every week. However, you might also factor in the time scales in terms of bank transfers, PayPal withdrawals, and cheque clearings to help you work on your budget – not to mention the delays caused by holidays, personal emergencies, and natural disasters.
Learn The Nitty Gritty Of Your Business
Whether you’re selling goods or providing business services to your clients, you need to update yourself with what’s happening around you and within your niche – if only to improve your skills and your techniques, you need to stay on track. Knowing how your fellow freelancers in the same field progress will also benefit you in terms of being at par with what they can do.
You might also want to consider taking online courses to learn more about your niche and the market, or attend occasional seminars or conferences to keep you on top of the latest happenings in the industry and learn from the success stories of those ahead of you.