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Quitting your day job and making all of your income on your own is the dream for many part-time freelancers, but it’s not one easily achieved. Thousands try every year and every year some of those end up going back to their old jobs or giving up on freelancing completely. It’s not that they didn’t try hard enough or have the right ideas – it’s often that they didn’t realize it would be so hard in so many ways.
If you’re in this boat right now, you have the advantage of a steady income with your 9 to 5 job. This is an incredible safety cushion that you should take advantage of while you still have it. Why? The following three reasons will give you an idea.
Money coming into your household is always a good thing if you like to eat and pay bills. With freelancing, that’s not always the case. One month you’ll have a ton of clients and the next things will dry up and be left wondering what happened. If you don’t have any money in reserve, you’re going to get into some trouble.
And that’s before taxes come in. As a freelancer you may have encountered Quarterly Estimated Taxes before so you know how difficult they can be. When you go full time, it just gets worse…and more expensive when you owe things like self-employment tax. On top of that, there’s the very real fact you could get stiffed by a huge client and suddenly be in big trouble.
Speaking of clients, how many do you have? Unless you have a solid, returning base of clients who will stand by you, it may not be worth it to jump just yet. Spend some time building up your client base so you have steady income at the ready.
Quick, off the top of your head – where do you intend to take your freelancing career? If it takes you take more than a few seconds to answer, you may not have thought about it before. That’s going to end up being a problem.
Before, when you had a boss, you had people make decisions in which you had little to no input. The company wanted to go this way? Then it went that way, no matter what you thought. Now, though, Big Bob’s Freelancing is all you, which means all the decisions are on you.
Whether your company makes it long-term or dies in the second month is up to you. If you’re unsure where you want your business to go, the end could come sooner than later. Figure out what your business goals are (both short and long term) before you have to make a decision you’re unprepared to make.
3. Frame of Mind
This is perhaps one of the toughest things about being on your own – the mind games you play on yourself. Keep in mind you’re most likely going to be by yourself all day…every day…all the time. With your 9 to 5 job you at least have the chance to talk to other people, but here your interactions will be limited.
Are you prepared for that? Again, all the decisions for your little company are on you now. That’s a big burden to take on if you’re not ready for it. Plus, there’s again the chance you’ll get stiffed by a client – what then? There’s no collections department you can run to for help. You have to chase them down and get what you deserve yourself.
Another big factor is motivation. If you aren’t able to maintain a schedule or get yourself moving when you’re tired, sleepy, or stressed, you’re going to get into trouble. The successful freelancers out there can get it done no matter what’s going on. If you’re behind on assignments, you can start to see a dip in your client retention.
If you think you’re ready for this, go for it! Nothing’s quite as thrilling and exciting as striking out on your own. If not, don’t fret – spend a little more time at your 9 to 5 job so you can build up the qualities and resources you need to start out right.
Full-time freelancers, when did you know it was time to make the leap?