The Freelancers Union http://freelancersunion.org estimated that in 2013, there were more than 53 million self-employed workers (in many permutations and degrees of earning power, from fashion photographers, to technical writers, to Uber cab drivers) in the U.S. That represents an astounding one third of the American work force participating in Freelance employment at some point during the year and it’s predicted that the number will only trend upward.
Plan to succeed is the credo of every self-employed professional. Effective planning requires one to first anticipate events and conditions that may be encountered and then devise strategies that will overcome obstacles, or at least lessen their likely impact, and as well capitalize on expected opportunities. Before you invest money and time on a mission to go it alone, consider these realities.
No free tech help
Santa gave me an iPad Mini tablet for Christmas and the external key board that is part of its case quit functioning after three days. The online advice that I hoped would help me to restart the thing was not useful. I suppose a (time consuming) trip to the Apple Store must be made, because I cannot ask a tech support colleague to rescue me. At some point, there will be a technology related glitch for every Freelancer: Power Point will embarrass you. The printer will frustrate you. You’ll be unable to install your new software.
Taming home office distractions
Working from home requires real discipline and focus and potential distractions are everywhere. Unless the call is from a client or business associate, it may be advisable to refrain from answering calls (or emails/texts) from friends and family until lunch time or after hours. If you have small children at home, take them to day care or hire a nanny or other care taker to supervise their activities.
Ringing doorbells, the television, social media sites, grocery shopping, pet needs and house work can also undermine your work schedule. If you foresee potential challenges to your ability to be productive In a home office, then investigate co-working spaces.
Co-working arrangements can be very beneficial. The office supplies, meeting rooms, A/V equipment, coffee/tea and maybe even a co-working buddy who will provide some free tech advice will be available in the rental fee. As an added bonus, networking opportunities, billable hours and camaraderie can arise from co-working colleagues.
No colleagues to commiserate with
Business owners and Freelance consultants work harder and must meet or exceed very high expectations, every time. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially in the early days of running your venture. At your job, there was most likely someone who understood the nuances to talk you through things. Now, there is only you.
Joining a neighborhood business association, professional association and/or your local chamber of commerce will give you numerous opportunities to meet self-employed professionals much like yourself. Get to know a select few and create a support network for each other.
Moreover, it is certain that you will have opportunities to receive and perhaps also lead professional development programs that demonstrate your expertise and leadership skills in the company of your peers. You and your colleagues will be looking to make referrals for one another. The time and money you invest in such organizations can pay real dividends and help you succeed as a Freelancer or business owner.
Needless to say there are other factors involved in the transition into the self-employed sector, for example the requirement to find and purchase medical and dental insurance and set up a retirement account that works for you. Launching even a solo freelance consultancy takes careful planning. The more you can anticipate and prepare for, the more successful your venture is likely to be.
Thanks for reading,