For some of us, freelancing may seem like living the dream. For others, it looks like a nightmare of uncertainty, and possibly poverty. Many of us are somewhere in between, having toyed with the idea, but perhaps not ready to make the leap. Take this quick quiz to find out if you’re suited to freelancing, and if freelancing is suited to you.
1) How do you view the role of your boss?
- They provide crucial structure to my job and my day.
- They’re a micromanaging ninny who mostly just gets in my way.
Freelancers are their own boss, with everything that entails. You won’t have someone looking over your shoulder, or conversely, providing support. If you feel better knowing there’s a safety net, you might not enjoy the responsibility of being the head honcho. But if you’re comfortable calling the shots, freelancing and entrepreneurship will work out well for you.
2) Do you just want to get on with the work, or are you prepared to go out and look for work?
- I want to know what I have to do for the next day, week, or month in advance.
- I’m comfortable with projects coming in on an ad hoc basis.
As a freelancer, you’ll be responsible for finding your own clients and projects. Many people are great at doing the actual work, but when there’s no company finding projects for you, you’ll realise that half of your work is finding work. And you’ll be more successful sometimes than other times, so your schedule will fluctuate between periods of intense craziness, and periods of intense boredom.
3) Can you advertise yourself?
- Do you mean talk about myself? No no, that’s too embarrassing.
- I know what my strengths are, and I can talk about them confidently without boasting.
The only way you’ll be able to find clients is if they know about you. And the only way they’ll know about you, is if someone tells them. Often, that someone has to be you (we’ll discuss how you can get your contacts to help you get the word out in point 9). Freelancers think of themselves as a personal brand, and have to build that brand every day. If you’re painfully shy, or regard any sort of self-promotion as ‘boasting’, rather than constructive marketing, you’ll have a hard time finding work.
4) Do you live paycheque to paycheque, or do you have rainy day savings?
- My bank account gets filled every month, and emptied every month. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?
- I have enough savings to be ok if I don’t have a paycheque coming in this month.
Freelancers don’t have the security of a regular income. So, the good periods need to tide you over the lean times. If you habitually empty your account, or you already have large amounts of debt, you should be very confident that you’ll be able to bring in enough bacon as a freelancer before leaving the security of a job.
5) Are you prepared for all the admin that goes into running a business?
- The thought of it makes my head ache. I hate admin!
- What’s all the fuss about? It’s just admin.
Make no mistake, there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes work involved in running a business, from registering your company, to setting up reliable accounting, invoicing, and payroll systems, to keeping tabs on suppliers and other partners, to tracking your own time on projects and and and… If your admin isn’t done properly, you could find yourself losing track of when money is supposed to come in, or go out, which means you could work very hard, for very little. If you’re even slightly worried about doing admin, check out our post on the essential tools for freelancing, and this one on common money mistakes to avoid.
6) Do you do what you say without excuses or extensions?
- I might be sliiightly late sometimes, but I always get it done in the end.
- I am pedantic about not missing deadlines.
Clients are 10 times harder to please than the most draconian boss. That’s because each client project is like a first date – you only have one chance to impress. Deliver work late, or deliver substandard work, and the client can refuse to work with you ever again. Everyone has bad days, but freelancers don’t have the luxury of letting that affect their output. So, consider whether you have what it takes to just get on with it, no matter what’s going on in the world and in life.
7) How badly are you affected by criticism?
- I take criticism of any kind very badly. I see it as a rejection of me as a person, not just as a critique of the work.
- Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If the criticism is constructive, I’m happy to make changes to the work.
In freelancing, much like the retail industry, the customer is always right. As a specialist, you should guide clients towards more elegant solutions, but if their budget, business model, or imagination don’t allow for it, just give them what they want. You’re allowed to have a different opinion, and you should certainly voice that opinion as advice, but if you always have to have the last word, freelancing may not be for you.
8) Are you a ‘big picture’ type of thinker, or can you deal with the details too?
- I like thinking on a grand scale. I have people to handle the nitty-gritties.
- I’m both. I’ll come up with the plan, then follow through with the legwork too.
Working in companies, especially large organisations, means that there are other people around to help you. This is especially true once you get to a mid or senior role, and can call on entire teams to execute work on your behalf. A freelancer often has to wear many hats, whether that’s taking client calls instead of palming them off to your PA, or doing basic work that you would usually pass to juniors. Be prepared to execute projects from the ground up, if you’re serious about freelancing.
9) Do you have a good network in your industry?
- I try to avoid socialising with work or industry colleagues.
- I’ve built up a decent network of people I can call on for professional help.
As a freelancer you’ll likely be spending more time alone than if you were an employee somewhere, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need a good professional network. You’ll need people to recommend you to clients, people to recommend suppliers and partners to you, people who will be your suppliers and partners, investors, and mentors etc. So, if you’re thinking about freelancing, make sure you’re using an economical and effective platform like Kalido to connect you with relevant online contacts, and help you turn those online contacts into real world connections.
Now that you’ve come to the end of the quiz, tally up the amount of 1’s and 2’s you’ve scored. Well done on every question where you answered 2! Think of the A questions as challenges, and how you’ll address them before committing to freelancing. And don’t worry if you have more As than Bs; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider striking out on your own – it just means you have a little more prep work to do. Good luck!