Think you’re ready to ditch the 9-to-5 for the freelance life? Ask yourself these 5 questions to see if you’re ready to make the leap.
So, you’ve been pondering going freelance? You’re not alone. The advent of the “gig” economy has made freelancing an ever-growing option for many workers. Whether you crave the flexibility of working from home, a better work/ life balance, or the opportunity to unleash greater earning potential in your field, the move to freelancing is real.
According to a recent Morgan Stanley article, freelancers currently make up 35% of the workforce in the U.S. What’s more, that number could easily exceed 50% by 2027.
Becoming a freelancer has been the most satisfying thing that I’ve done for my professional life. It’s been professionally and personally rewarding, and I’ve never regretted my decision. That said, if and when you should abandon the 9-to-5 for a life of freelancing is a personal decision. Each person’s circumstances are unique, and only you can decide what’s best for you. But, if you’re daydreaming about living the cubicle-free life, then read on for 5 questions to ask yourself to be sure your ready to take the plunge into freelancing.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Are My Finances Ready?
Arguably the most important consideration is to be sure your finances are ready before starting your freelance venture.
First, you need an emergency fund. (Let’s face it, everyone needs an emergency fund!) Because there is often lag time between when you invoice for your freelance work and when you get paid, you want to be able to cash flow your life in between.
How much you should have in savings is totally up to you, but a good rule of thumb is no less than 6 months of your total expenses. If you’re the sole breadwinner in your household, consider increasing this.
Keep in mind, that you may have some additional expenses (like buying your own health and/ or disability insurance) as a freelancer that you didn’t have as a regular employee. Factor these into your budget when planning for your emergency fund.
Also remember that, as a freelancer, you get paid when you work. Conversely, you don’t get paid when you don’t. This is something to be prepared for that’s definitely different than getting a regular paycheck every two weeks.
If you can reduce or eliminate any extra debt before you start freelancing, then you should. As a freelancer, think of yourself as a business. The lower the overhead, the better off you’ll generally be.
Is My Work Space Set Up?
Get your work space set up ahead of time. You want to dedicate a room or area in your home where you can work uninterrupted. Although you might work remotely, and may not always work from home, when you are home be sure that you have the space you need to work productively and comfortably.
Consider what you’ll do if you need to meet with clients face-to-face. Will you meet at their office, your home office, a coffee shop? Research your options and be prepared in advance.
Do I Have the Tech Resources I Need?
As a freelancer, you will be your own IT department. This can be intimidating for some, but a little preparation ahead of time will help.
Determine what software and hardware you’ll need. For example, will you need to host web conference calls and meetings? Identify your software options, sign up for an account, and learn to use the platform in advance. (Zoom is one of my favorites, and they have a great free account option!)
You don’t need to break the bank, but be sure that you’re not caught without the needed equipment so that you can shine like a star for your clients!
Is My Business Plan in Place?
It’s a good idea to get your first contract lined up before you start freelancing. This can be tricky when you’re still working your 9-to-5 job. While you build your bridge from the cubicle farm to freelance-land, you may be doing both for a little while. If you have work lined up, it makes the transition much more stable and far less scary.
After that first contract, build your pipeline of work. Think about what happens after your contract ends, and what you’ll do next. Long before this happens. Plan out your future work in advance, as much as possible.
Build and cultivate your professional network. Let them know that you’re freelancing and about the work you specialize in. Don’t be afraid to ask if there are any opportunities to work with them, or if they know of any others.
If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, consider building your profile. This is how I found my first freelance job, and I continue to be contacted on a regular basis for opportunities in my field.
Finally, check out this post on 3 essential freelance business tools for more on what you need to make an impression with your business.
Am I Ready to Make the Shift?
Freelancing is a big lifestyle shift. Unless you’re freelancing on site for a company, you are largely working in solitude. If you prefer this to an office environment (like I do), then no worries! But, if you like the social interactions of an office environment, then working alone will be an adjustment.
Ironically, you will also probably have disruptions to manage when working from home. There are people who will think that you can just hang out all day because you work from home. Uh, no. Patience is recommended as you set expectations and boundaries with family and friends. In time, they’ll come to understand that you have a real job, and need to plan around it.
With some thoughtful planning, you can help yourself make a smooth and successful transition to the freelance side!
Five Steps to Finding Your First Freelance Client
7 Things Not To Do As A New Freelancer
Freelance Fundamentals – Sell Your Services with Confidence