The 8 scariest things about being a full-time freelancer — and how to conquer them
Being your own boss can be amazing. You can work in your pajamas, log in to work from any location, choose your own business hours, and be selective about the clients or projects you take on. For many people, it’s the ideal lifestyle.
But although the advantages and freedoms of self-employment are pretty incredible, many would-be freelancers are reluctant to take the plunge. Reasons they hold themselves back include fear of the risks associated with failure and income unpredictability, to name just two. Other fears might include worries about staying motivated and working in isolation.
Once you dissect what’s holding you back from fulfilling your entrepreneurial dreams, chances are, you’ll see it’s not as bad as you think. For every potential barrier, there is a likely solution. Here are 8 of the scariest things about becoming a full-time freelancer and solutions of how to conquer each one.
1. Fear of failing
If you find yourself thinking about making the leap to full-time freelancing, don’t let fear hold you back. Without a doubt, leaving a full-time job to enter the freelance world is scary; there’s no one else to fall back on, no boss to “fix” issues that crop up, and, of course, the possibility the business doesn’t take off as well as hoped.
But time spent sitting on the fence is time you could otherwise be productive. Instead of spinning out, take the “best and worst test.”Ask yourself what’s the best thing that could happen if your new freelance business succeeds — and then ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen. Chances are, the worst-case scenarios aren’t likely (or so terrible after all), and the best-case ones could turn out great.
2. Funding your company
Funding is probably one of the largest challenges any solopreneur faces. Most people aren’t sitting on a mountain of gold, nor do they have a giant-sized trust fund to dip into. If you do have these resources, financing your new business is one fear you don’t have to worry about. However, even without an inexhaustible stream of cash, numerous funding options are out there, including crowdfunding sites, small business loans, angel investors, and venture capitalist funding. Be sure to explore the advantages, drawbacks, and conditions associated with each type of funding before making a commitment.
3. Unpredictable income
One of the biggest stressors freelancers face is the unpredictability of getting a paycheck. The freelance life often comes with times of feast and famine. During the down times, gigs can run thin, or clients may not always pay on time. To combat the latter risk, be sure to first establish some self-imposed ground rules.
- Establish some savings.
- Diversify your customer and funding bases.
- Attract new clients but don’t ignore existing ones.
- Devise and test a contingency plan.
This way, if your freelance income ebbs and flows — or takes a temporary dive — you’ll be prepared to handle it. Addressing these worries ahead of timerelieves stress and enables you to move forward with the comfort of having a plan in place.
4. Intellectual property
Another serious challenge freelancers face, especially in the age of copy/paste and downloads, is the theft of intellectual property. This is an unfortunate reality that inventors, artists, and other professionals must contend with. Whether you are a writer, photographer, graphic designer, app designer, or crafter — or you’ve built your business around another idea — be sure to protect yourself and your work by securing the rights to your intellectual property.
Working alone from home can get lonely, especially if you do it day after day. To conquer this solitary aspect of freelance life, look into any or all of the following ways to make contact and network with other professionals. They’ll help you build a solo business while maintaining a social life.
- Find people and groups from your industry and area on social media.
- Develop relationships with others in your professional niche.
- Get involved with the chamber of commerce in your town.
- Become a member of an industry group.
- Network at local meetups with other small business owners.
- Join a co-working space so you aren’t working in total isolation.
Working in solitude can take some getting used to, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. By being proactive and connecting with others, you can easily conquer this challenge and no longer fear working alone day after day.
6. Managing self-employment taxes
Figuring out individual taxes is overwhelming in itself. But when you’re running your own business, things get even more complicated. On the plus side, there are numerous tax benefits and deductions you can claim as business expenses. Use a free online calculator and filing software to help you figure out the details and actual numbers and forms associated with self-employment tax. Suddenly, things on the tax front won’t feel so complicated!
7. Planning for storage needs
Many people who work from home simply don’t have the space to keep their office supplies, inventory, and other business-related equipment in their living space. Yet maintaining space in another building or opening an office or storefront is an unnecessary and costly expense. For inventory or items you don’t need every day, consider renting a small storage unit or adding a shed if you have room. It can be a cost-effective solution to your inventory needs.
8. No one to ask for help
Being an employee has its frustrations, but at the end of the day, you’re not where the buck stops when something goes wrong. Working for an organization or entrepreneur also means there is always someone to turn to for help. However, when you go solo, the buck stops at you.
This can be downright scary, especially when combined with the other factors of running a business. One solution could be to connect with a business coach or mentor who can advise and guide you as you get started. With a little backup and some time, you’ll gain the confidence to effectively make decisions and problem-solve on your own.
Making the leap to self-employment takes a lot of soul-searching and a serious level of commitment. However, if trends are any indicator, now is the time to make that leap. In 2018, statistics showed more than one-third of U.S. workers (about 57 million people!) were working in the growing gig economy. Why not seize the opportunity and join them?