Freelance Freedom by N.C Winters.
Transitioning from life at a corporate firm to going freelance can be a big life change. We’ve pooled five top tips to help you make that transition as smooth as possible.
1.) Write a plan of action Write a business plan for yourself mapping out what your exact steps are going to be once you leave your corporate job and what your goals (long and short term) will be. Doing as much of this organization work as possible before you make the break from your regular job will make it an awful lot easier when you do leave as from day one you will know what your plan of action is. Speak to friends or acquaintances who have also made the leap to freelancing for any advice they can give about those first few weeks starting out on your own. Network as much as possible, both in person and on social media. Spend time on your personal brand and start to get your name out there as a professional in your field. If you have the time to take on odd freelance jobs in the evenings or at the weekend while still working at the corporate, do it. Getting work once you go freelance can take longer than many people imagine so building up a client base (however small) beforehand will stand you in good stead for the day you do make your break for freedom. The extra cash will also provide a bit of a cushion for ‘downtimes’ when work is harder to come by.
2. Don’t burn any bridges Although it’s tempting to skip gleefully out of the door on your last day in the office telling everybody how great your new life is going to be without them, don’t. You never know when you might need these contacts again, not to mention references from your employer. Some freelancers even continue to work on an ad-hoc basis for their previous employer on leaving as this can be a great way to start getting experience and building a reputation as a freelancer. Even if you don’t continue to work for your old boss, the world is a very small place so it’s better to play it safe and do a good job right up until your last day, get your reference and leave with dignity. Doing a brilliant hand-over for your replacement will also confirm to your employer what a fantastic employee you were and you may even get a recommendation out of it.
3. Network Make sure everyone you know knows that you are going freelance: ex-colleagues, friends, old classmates. Work is much more likely to come through a contact than by applying through a recruiter or agency and people prefer to use someone they know. Utilize social media: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and think about keeping a blog charting your experiences as this can be a great way to build up an audience and then a client base. The more ways people have to contact you or hear about you the more work opportunities will come your way. Don’t be shy about putting your business out there, asking for work or advertising. It can be hard, but being a salesperson is part and parcel of being a freelancer, even if sales is not where your skills lie, or where you feel comfortable. As a freelancer you have to learn every part of running a business, from accounting and administration to, yes, sales. If people don’t know what you are offering they won’t know to call you when they need your services.
4. Know your worth Do intensive research into the going rate for a professional in your field before you set your rates. Holding this knowledge will give you confidence when having to discuss your payment with clients. It’s really important not to undersell yourself and to be confident that you are good at what you do. You do not need to justify what you charge and do not be convinced otherwise by cheap potential clients. Be strong and if you are good at your job there’s no reason why you won’t receive the payment you ask for.
5. Budget your income, save your taxes It can be easy to get carried away when the first few cheques start arriving to just spend the money as though that were your salary. However unlike the monthly salary you were receiving before, your taxes have not been taken out, this is your gross income. It sounds obvious, but be careful to put away a good chunk of this money for the taxman (up to 40%) and don’t be fooled into thinking this money is yours. This will save you a lot of pain later on when you owe him 40% of the money you have already spent. Making a monthly budget of all of your expenses, bills, rent, food and so on should give you an idea of how much money you’ll need to earn every month before tax. IF you are unsure about how much tax you need to pay do you research before you make the break from your regular job and get organised well before your leaving date. Ask friends, get a financial advisor and read up on tax online.
Have you made the break from corporate to freelance? If so, let us know! We would love to hear what advice you have for budding freelancers and what made it all worthwhile for you.