You might feel that you’re ready right now, but there is definitely a wrong time to go freelance and a right time to go freelance. Make the move at the wrong time and you could find yourself regretting your decision and wishing you’d thought through your decision more.
Here are the reasons I think make it the wrong time for you to quit your job and go freelance. They aren’t intended to put you off from ever going freelance, but I hope they’ll give you food for thought and a surer footing before making the leap into freelance life.
And don’t worry, I’ll follow up with my run down of the right time to quit your job and go freelance.
When you don’t have a plan
Yes, even the best laid plans go to waste, but having an idea of what service you’ll offer, how to find clients, where you’ll work from and what you’ll do if things go wrong are the bare minimum of a plan you need to have in place before you go freelance. Take a look at my freelance checklist to help you get ready to make the jump.
When you’re angry
If you don’t get on well with your boss or you’re fed up with your job, freelancing can feel like an attractive option. But building a successful freelance career is difficult and not for everyone. Are there ways that you can improve your current job or work at building a better relationship with your boss? That may be a better option.
When you’re in debt
If you’re looking for a way to make some quick money, freelancing is not it. Finding clients, finishing projects and getting paid takes time. Freelancing isn’t your best option here. Get professional advice from a financial or debt advisor.
When you read a single book on freelancing
You might suddenly get inspired to go freelance when reading around about how others have gone freelance. But much if what is written out there just skims the surface of what it takes – my writing included. While it is a great idea to read more about the day to day of freelance life, try to read between the lines and sort the signal from the noise.
When you get your first client “on the side”
Congratulations! You me won your first client while still in your job and are earning extra money on the side. This may make you feel like a big shot, but the reality is that this is just one client. That first project will unlikely bring in the same amount of income as your current job, the project will inevitably come to an end and you’ll have to find more clients. Make a plan first.
When you’re fresh out of school
You may think you know it all, but you certainly don’t. I’m many, many years out of school and have been freelancing for several years now, but am learning every day. It may be better to get a job at a company or agency in a relevant industry to learn the ropes of the job first, build your network and get a name for yourself. You’ll be in a better position to go freelance in a few years time. And once you are freelance, never stop developing your skills.
You have too much else going on in your life
Freelancing is a full time job – and mostly even more so. Not only do you have to deliver on client work and projects, but you have to find those clients, market yourself, do the finances and bookkeeping and deal with the other myriad tasks and challenges that come with being a freelancer. If you have too much going on in your life – a house move, a new arrival in the family, a long holiday – then it would be wise to wait until a better time comes along.
You see being a freelancer as an easy way to live
It’s not. There are lots of challenges, many of them unexpected. You have to work hard to keep your clients happy, to finish your work to a high standard and to run your business well. It takes time, dedication and hard graft.
You don’t know your market
Do you know what your clients are looking for? Not just in services you can offer, but the value they take away from that work? Do you know where they look for freelancers, or if they even work with freelancers at all? Do you know what the going freelance rate is in your industry? Do you have a strong industry network, that can give you advice and refer you work? Make sure you can answer these questions confidently before you go freelance.
You fear failure
Even if you do go freelance and get off to a strong start, things can go wrong. In fact, many freelancers fail after just 18 months of being in business according to The Freelancer Club. If freelancing doesn’t work out for you and you fail, would that be ok for you? would you know what to do next or have other income and opportunities to fall back on?
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