As the year is coming to an end it’s always a good time to reflect and reevaluate the things you’ve learned over the last twelve months. Personally, this has been a year that has seen major shifts in my little startup journey. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned so far for those of you who may be considering taking the same plunge. Many people see the New Year as a time of change, and there’s no bigger change than starting your own business.
The world of freelancing can seem glamourous on the surface, but to really be confident that it’s the right move for you, you need to know the reality of things. There are some major pros and cons of going freelance. By that I mean it’s still work. Going freelance, working for yourself, becoming self-employed, whatever you like to call it – is still very much work. If anything, going freelance can be much harder than holding down a standard 9-5 job, because you’re the only person who can keep things going. You’ve got to be tough with yourself, but it’s worth it.
Pros and cons of going freelance
The financial adjustment
I’m not even going to pretend that this isn’t the biggest negative factor. It’s absolutely the largest deciding factor when it comes to making that change. The thing people ask me most is ‘how do you live like that though?’ Well, I don’t ‘live’, I manage. I had a ‘proper’ salaried job before starting Rosarts. Walking away from that and adjusting to a life where an income isn’t guaranteed wasn’t easy at all.
I spent time preparing, cutting my cloth accordingly and ensuring that my family and real life responsibilities could withstand the change that starting over would bring. It’s hard going and is often more about survival than living comfortably but if you’re prepared to make a few sacrifices to really push on with your dreams then it’s not an impossible roadblock, just an important one to consider.
Being answerable to yourself
For me, this is also a pro factor, but in many senses having no one else to answer to can be difficult. It’s very easy to become distracted and slacken off when you work for yourself. You need to be sure that you’re motivated and dedicated enough to really make this happen because no one else cares (yet) if you do.
Well, your mortgage lender might care…
Becoming a lone wolf
Harder for some than for others
As your network grows you will link up with other like-minded people, both entrepreneurs and creatives alke, but a large chunk of your time will be devoted to forging your new role in life, and that’s often done in isolation.
The unseen path
This one is self-explanatory really. You just can’t predict how the venture will turn out. Going freelance or starting your own business is a big risk, and while you can consider the pros and cons, you really can’t predict how it will fare when you take that first step. So get ready to get comfortable with uncertainty – because there’ll be a lot of it.
Ok, let’s get onto the good stuff.
You have the power
No, really, you do! Finally, after working for others, you’re the shaper of your own destiny – and it feels awesome. Scary at times, but definitely awesome.
The ability to choose your own working hours, select which projects to work on and also which ones to avoid is refreshing. In a standard employment, your sense of freedom can be hindered by the demands of others. With freelance work, this is less often the case. You can drive your career in any direction you choose to – as long as you’re constantly working hard at it.
With great power comes great responsibility though, and for a self-employed person that responsibility is to make your work happen. You’re responsible for generating the workload, getting the clients, making the sales. It all falls on you, or it all falls down. It’s a massive power.
You learn new things, constantly
Starting your own business from scratch means you’ve got to up-skill yourself fast. Accounting, website design, branding, marketing, product development; you’ve got to learn how to do it all. Then execute. It’s a challenge, but who doesn’t love to learn new things? You’ll become more resourceful than you ever realised, particularly when you’ve got little to no money as a fledgeling business. Some may view this as a difficulty or a challenge, but to be an entrepreneur is to be a constant learner, and learning is always positive.
You’re doing something that you love
Whatever your new venture is, it’s more than likely been conceived out of your passion for something. For that reason, you’ll love it all the more, even on the crap days. Doing something you love makes it so much easier to keep at it, and this fuels your desire to make it a real success.
If you’re working on something that you love, your passion for your product or service will shine through, and that stuff is infectious. You can’t get any more of a positive feeling than that.
You develop a new mindset
As you learn and develop your new business skills, your view on things changes completely. You start to see challenges as opportunities. You push yourself through walls you thought would forever stay on one side of. You begin to see yourself differently and think more positively about the possibility of change.
Reslience will become a key aspect of your new outlook; running your own business will toughen you up faster than you could ever have imagined. Ultimately, the lessons you’ll learn from failures will drive you forward to create success. Your mindset will shift towards a ‘try again’ state, and whatever happens, you know you can adapt to new situations.
The unseen path
As mentioned, this is a definite pro as well as a con. The unseen path is exciting! You don’t know where it will lead you, but you’ll have an adventure on the way. There might be pitfalls, but there’ll also be real high points, and it’s definitely a road you shouldn’t regret walking on. If you’ve made peace with the scary bits, you’ll really start to enjoy the twists and turns to come.
Pros and cons can’t replace gut instinct
You’ll just know if making the leap into the world of freelancing and self-employment is for you. Somewhere deep in the heart of all self-starters is the drive to give this thing a go; if you’ve got that feeling, then just do it.
Starting up on your own is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it’s as rewarding as it is challenging. I hope some of the pros and cons I’ve listed here give you some help if you’re deciding to go for it or not. Just so you know, I think you should definitely go for it.
Have you made the leap into freelancing? What would you list as your top pros and cons for others? Leave a comment and don’t forget to share if you think this post would be helpful to others.
You’ll find more articles like this about freelance life over on my personal blog, and you can also catch up with me over on Twitter or Facebook. Let me know what you think about branching out into self-employment!