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A lot of designers spend some time working for others before they start getting the urge to start up their own freelance business. This is in most cases a good thing as you will get a lot of valuable experience both in seeing how a business is run and getting the feedback and help needed from other more experienced designers.
In this article we’ll have a closer look at some signs that will appear to show you that you’re getting ready to take the step into the challenging yet exciting world of freelancing.
In most cases it would be correct to advice people to learn how to crawl before they can run. In the world of freelancing, and often times business in general, this rule definitely applies too. A certain amount of experience in a “safer” environment will do us well before taking the leap into the unknown.
Picture by Nick Farr
But how do you know that you’re ready? There are many signs of both, and in this article we will have a look at some of the signs to look for to see if you’re ready. Different settings and personalities will also have an effect on the outcome, so make sure to look at all aspects before making your decision.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the more common signs!
Picture by Jon Marshall
The freelance life treats us all differently. One first thing we can agree upon though, is the fact that there will be more responsibility included in it for you. Being a freelancer is to be running a whole business on your own, with no one to hide behind. You will get the credit when things go well and you will be the person being blame for everything that goes wrong. You are the one that has to clean up the mess and work the extra hours if anything needs to be done at the last-minute or during holidays and weekends. You’re the one that always has to stand up. If you understand this, and feel ready and willing to get more responsibility – you’re on a good way to getting ready to start out!
Picture by Mike Baird
Wanting new challenges can obviously mean a number of different things. If you’re ready for new challenges unlike what you’ve done before, freelancing could be for you. You’ll have to deal with new tasks and be the person in the lead. You’ll have to think of new ways of doing things, along with working at your most efficient. There will be parts of running a business you’ve never dealt with before blowing up right in front of you. New clients, new projects and more responsibilities. Are those the right challenges? If yes, you’re ready!
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An overwhelming amount of all business-opportunities, new client-relationships and great collaborations all start with existing contacts. If you’re already respected and well-known in your field you can get a road that is a whole lot easier when starting up. This is where it will pay off that you were outgoing during the studies, or that you’ve been good at getting new contacts through social media and so on. If you have a pile of business cards, phone numbers, old colleagues, buddies from when you studied and social media contacts that you’re willing to use, you’re ready!
Picture by Andrew Magill
A person ready for the freelance-challenge knows what awaits financially. This means having set up a budget and knowing what everything will cost. This is needed to know if you can afford it, and how much you will need to work to get that money. You have to go check out what it costs to rent an office space or to set up a proper and working workspace at home. You have to calculate everything to know as much as possible before you get started. Will you need a new computer, new software or other things?
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Wanting to go freelance and succeeding at it, requires a plan. This actually applies to any type of business you want to start. You need to know how to present your business to others when they ask what you’re doing. A businessman without a plan will not get anywhere at all. You need to know how to market yourself, what your specialties will be and so on. You can’t just start up and see what comes along as that’s way too risky. If you have a clear idea of what you want your business to do, and know how to say it in 2-3 sentences, a valuable part of the work is done!
Picture by Marcelo Moura
If you’re serious about starting up, you need to make sure that your bills are still taken care of for a month or three. You can’t expect money to come flowing in from day one. My advice would definitely be to plan this a bit ahead financially. Take a part of your paycheck every month for a while and try to get enough money saved up for paying your bills for at least a couple of months, just in case. You should also have a bit extra if you need any new software, equipment and other investments. The financial aspect of starting up kills many new businesses due to bad planning. Don’t be one of the casualties!
Picture by Peter Shanks
To be ready for this challenge and deal with it in a good way, you need to be aware of the fact that it will be hard work. You have to take the whole thing dead serious and walk into it with a lot of willpower and energy. If you don’t, you will most likely get very disappointed within just a few days. Learn to motivate yourself, read up on freelancing online, talk to other freelancers and build up positive energy to start out with. A week of vacation before starting can be a valuable boost to a new era in your life.
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To make it you will sometimes have to take on projects that you’d rather not do if you’re having a dry period. This also means that if there are any “bad news” related to a project, you’re the one having to talk to the client. You’ll have to deal with the unhappy clients, you’ll have to make hard decisions and so on. By being aware of this, accepting it and trying to see things from the positive side – you’ll be ready!
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A final, but vital, point that I’d like you to think through is your family. If you have a wife, husband and/or kids – they’re part of this too! That can be a bit hard to remember sometimes. My advice is to include your family in the equation from the minute you start considering a freelance career. Is your new work situation possible to combine with what you find important in life besides work? Will you still be able to spend the time with them that you need and are they positive to the transition? Maybe it’s all good to start up immediately, or maybe you would be better off waiting another year or two before starting? This is an important decision that you need to think through.
Starting up as a freelancer will require many changes to your life. This career-path is not cut for everyone, and there may be times in life when this is a good idea, and times when it’s a bad idea. As long as you take the time to analyze the situation properly you will have a good chance of success. Hopefully this article will help you out a bit on that.
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