Why the start of the year is the best time to start freelancing

Here’s your new business. Office location — anywhere.
Here’s your new business. Office location — anywhere.

If you’ve ever considered freelancing, you’ve probably considered it often, over the course of many months. But, seeing as it’s January, you might want to stop considering, and actually take the plunge now. After all, you should ‘seize the day’, ‘strike while the iron is hot’, ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and a bunch of other not-entirely-motivating truisms. But the real reason is: you’re much more likely to succeed if you do it now. The beginning of the year, specifically the months of January/February are peak times for hiring, which could give you the foot in the door that could set you up for the rest of the year (and your freelance career). Here’s why:

1. You’re recharged and motivated

New Year, new you. Charged and ready to go.
New Year, new you. Charged and ready to go.

Having spent a couple of weeks communing with nature, your family and friends, and (most importantly) yourself over the festive break, you’re recharged and more motivated than you’ll be at any other time of the year. So, it’s a perfect time to polish up your portfolio, CV, introductory letters etc. and to reach out to contacts (call or chat to them for free from Kalido) for opportunities.

As an employee, you have to wait for opportunities to come to you. And opportunities may only come at the whim of a capricious manager, after a storm of office politics, or if you happen to have a really good day at the office golf/football/bowls tournament. As a freelancer, you can make your own opportunities. And you can do it now.

2) Everyone else is recharged and motivated

According to research done by recruiting company TheLadder, the average candidate has just 6 seconds to impress a recruiter. That means your portfolio, CV, introductory letter etc. has less time than it takes to say this sentence out loud to get through the proverbial door. In addition to its content, the delivery time of your submission is crucial. At the beginning of the year, everyone else is also fresh, and much more likely to have the time and patience to give your application proper consideration.

To further improve your chances of success, you should aim to submit your application on Monday or Tuesday, and preferably before 10am. Research has shown that applications submitted in this time period are 40x more likely to be successful. Luckily, with potential clients on their phones 24/7, reaching someone through Kalido in the correct time is super easy.

3) Companies have new projects and budget

Companies want to move the needle and you could be in the driving seat.
Companies want to move the needle and you could be in the driving seat.

Near the end of the year, things definitely slow down. The year’s budget is exhausted, people are exhausted, and there’s a sense that unless something’s going to bring about the zombie apocalypse ‘it can wait until next year’. Fortunately for you, it’s next year now. And the start of each year is the time when most decision makers are in the same room together. Whether it’s the board of a large corporation, the members of a family enterprise, or a couple of friends at a start-up, potential clients will be meeting to discuss proposed projects for the year ahead. And while these plans are being drawn up, budgets are full and awaiting disbursement, and permanent posts haven’t been filled yet, it’s much easier to convince clients to let you step in to get the ball rolling immediately. And if you impress your clients early on, they could also filter work through to you for the rest of the year.

4) You have medical aid and other financial assistance

At the end of the year, many people have capped out on their medical aids, and end up having to cover a lot of these costs themselves. So, whereas during most of the year, paying for your contact lenses, asthma pumps, blood pressure and other chronic meds are your medical aid’s problem, sometime between October-December, they usually become your problem. In January, your funding cycle starts fresh, so you can hand responsibility over to them again. Similarly, the beginning of every month (and especially the beginning of every year) is the start of a new loan cycle, which means creditors are eager and willing to give out loans and mortgages.

Depending on your service and business, you could start your freelancing career on very little capital. But ‘very little’ is subjective, and it’s not zero, so having financial assistance available gives you a good safety net. And while we would always suggest having a buffer of at least 3–6 months’ savings, the beginning of the year is a good time to take the freelancing plunge because you’ll have more help financially than later on in the year.

5) You can get benefits for the next tax year

Work for yourself and see your share of the pot grow.
Work for yourself and see your share of the pot grow.

Every country has a different tax season, but the earliest cycles are likely to start in February, to coincide with the end of the financial year. If you start your freelance career early, and get all your financial ducks in a row, you could enjoy tax benefits during the next season.

And if you’re new to the whole ‘doing your own taxes’ thing, there’s a bunch of software that can guide you through it, and a bunch of trusted accounting and tax professionals on Kalido that you can reach out to.

With a combination of energy (yours and everybody else’s), new projects, budget, and finance available at the start of the year, it really does make sense to jump from the ‘considering’ phase to the ‘totally doing this’ phase now. So, here’s to the new year and your new freelance career!