So you’ve made the decision; you’re going to try your hand at freelancing. You’ve done your research, you’ve weighed up the pros and cons, and you believe you can make this work.
However, before you rush into your manager’s office waving your resignation letter aloft, take a moment to ask yourself four important questions:
Is this the right time?
If the payment of the annual bonus is around the corner, probably not. Logic would dictate that you wait until that bonus is safely in your bank account. Likewise, if you’re expecting to be awarded shares or conversely, expecting to have to cope with large expenses or acquire a loan, mortgage or credit agreement, now isn’t the best time.
There are situations where a provable, stable income is a must, and it’s crazy to walk away from financial advantages you might need further down the line.
Talking of which…
Do I have a cushion?
No, not the squashy kind you use to support your back (although this might be handy too). I’m talking about the financial kind. Even the most dazzling and well-prepared freelancers are likely to take a while to become established – and be prone to hitting rocky patches along the way, where the work pickings are slim.
So unless you have no choice in the matter, if you’re in the lucky position of being in a job that pays enough that you have money spare, save Try to build up a cushion of money to cover the bills for at least a month or two – preferably six or more, if you can – giving you time to find clients and establish a regular income stream.
Do I have the right workspace?
Home may seem the ideal place to work, but it’s worth looking at any potential workspace critically. Are there too many distractions at home – such as the phone, your Marvel blu-ray collection, the snack cupboard, that engrossing thriller, visitors, accusatory piles of washing-up or a garden in desperate need of weeding?
Are you more inspired, disciplined or cheerful in the company of others or a livelier environment – meaning you need to consider working in a cafe, library or co-working space for at least part of your working week? Do you have the equipment and space you need?
What’s my plan to attract clients?
Obviously – I hope! – you realise that telling a few people you’re quitting your job and going freelance is not enough to bring hordes of potential clients to your door. To gain clients, you must first ensure that potential clients know who you are, where you are, what you can do – and why they should employ you to do it. Build up a portfolio and/or testimonials before you launch, if you can – even if this means doing a little free or low-paid work for charities etc.
Then think about what kind of promotion is most likely to catch the eye of the kind of clients you want.
Once you’ve ensured you’re as well prepared as you can be, it’s time to take the plunge. Good luck!