Many people see becoming a freelance worker as an attractive proposition. While working for a business can provide a lot of scope for advancement, and a degree of financial security, some people relish the idea of working on their own terms.
According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of self-employed people in the UK is the highest it’s been for 40 years, with over four million people now choosing freelance work. If you’re interested in changing the way you work and becoming your own boss, here are some things you could bear in mind.
Is there a demand for your service?
As with all business ventures, freelance initiatives exist on supply and demand. Are your skills sufficient enough to make you stand out from competitors? What will make you a better choice for a client than a larger business with more resources?
Two big benefits of working with freelancers is that they offer flexibility and a ‘personal approach’, but that may not be enough to win over clients over if the product you’re offering can be delivered cheaper – or significantly better – by someone else.
Organisational skills are a must
With freelancing, it could be worth thinking about the processes that take place in the average office, and the ways in which responsibilities are delegated. It’s likely that in most companies each employee has a series of well-defined tasks and targets. Why not emulate this responsibility not just for the work you do for your clients, but for your accounting, technical needs, meeting arrangements and various other important tasks?
It’s all about relationships
Making money as a freelancer means generating business. Traditional methods of advertising can be expensive: many freelancers could find themselves relying on word-of-mouth recommendations.
One alternative idea could be to leverage pre-existing relationships; offering freelance services to your old employer, for example, or to people you have worked with in the past. Networking might strike fear into the hearts of some people, but it isn’t all about aggressive self-promotion; you could think of it as a way of strengthening your position. If a potential client asks you for a service you don’t provide, however, it could be good to recommend a trusted contact who may return the favour later.
The importance of cash-flow
Surviving as a freelancer may largely depend on clients paying their invoices on time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, causing nerve-wracking moments where you could even regret having abandoned your monthly pay cheque. Keep a tight grip on your finances, however, and you could ensure that your bills are paid and your freelance venture remains viable.
Another technique could be to build up a ‘cushion’ of money to last you through dry spells, before you begin your freelance venture. This may be difficult, though, especially if you need to reinvest money into specialist equipment.
On the other hand, a business mentor could help you weigh up different methods of managing your cash-flow. There are a number of national and local business mentor schemes, which could match you up with someone who has experience in your industry, and who understands the pitfalls (and prizes) of working for yourself.