If you’re deciding whether or not to leave your day job to go it alone as a freelancer, there are many factors to consider. Before you resort to basing your decision on a coin flip or by pulling petals off of a daisy, here are some things to think about before you take the plunge into freelancing.
1. Work to live
If flexibility is high on your priority list when it comes to work, freelancing might be the perfect fit for you. Many freelancing jobs can allow to adjust your schedule without having to deal with the confines of a regular job. This is extremely beneficial for many reasons. You can wrap work around your lifestyle instead of the other way around. If you have children, you can be home when they are sick, pick them up from school or go to their special activities during the day. It also suits those who like to travel, attend events that would normally happen during working hours and the list goes on and on.
2. Knock out a nest egg or two
If you are stuck in limbo wavering between staying at your job or leaving, it’s a much easier decision to make if you have your financial house in order. If you aren’t sure if can afford it, take steps to figure out how much you will need for an emergency fund to cover living expenses and consider making one for your new venture as well. Writing out a simple business plan helps to flesh out potential scenarios and plan strategies in advance to make things work. It also helps to know in advance what you will do if they don’t.
3. Stick your toe in
You can also test out the situation by starting while you’re still at your job. Take on the work you want to do outside of your regular job. This way if you decide to leave it doesn’t feel like such a drastic change. Have a number in mind for how much money you need to make before you think about going. Work up to that number before you decide. This can also help you get a feel for how to manage your time and clients before quitting and summons the courage to actually take the leap. This makes for a smoother transition and can potentially ease any anxiety you have about leaving your job. It won’t seem as daunting since you’re already doing the work and making the money you need. Remember that there are many factors to consider besides income. Health benefits are big piece of the financial puzzle outside of income. You want to make sure you can afford benefits if you won’t receive them anymore after leaving.
4. Your job might be failing you
While there’s a lot to consider, sometimes staying at a 9-to-5 works against you. If you’re spread too thin already, you may not have any time to put your ideas into place, gain enough traction or allow yourself to build any momentum when it comes to freelancing. I personally had to divorce my former career to devote time to freelance writing and offering podcast services. It took some time to get established but it eventually worked out nicely.
5. Self-starting is key
Setting your own schedule and sticking to it can be hard when you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder. You have to be okay with setting your own deadlines, staying organized and imposing structure on yourself. It’s also an adjustment socially to no longer having colleagues. So you might have to actively seek out ways to socialize.
The Bottom Line
Deciding to make the leap from a full time job to full time freelancing is a big decision. Use the tips above to have some basics in place before deciding. Also, remember that if you try and it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to another job.