Almost everyone’s had the dream of working on their own. Yes, from being able to dictate your own schedule to work with the people you genuinely want to help grow, it sounds like a dream come true. And if you can believe it or not, this doesn’t have to be that hard of a process. In fact, with the right planning and strategy, it can actually be much simpler than you’d imagine.
Start Coming Up With a Plan
While it’s admirable to walk in one day and announce that you’re going off on your own, you need to come up with an exit strategy as to how you’re going to get this done. This includes coming up with a savings plan, as well as looking around at the people you may know to tell them that you’re interested in hopping ship. For the latter, I’d recommend keeping it hush-hush around the office, as if word comes back, then it could be an early exit for you regardless.
If you currently have a mentor or advisor outside of where you work, then I highly suggest chatting with them on their thoughts. As they’ve seen your career develop, they most likely will know better than anyone if now is the right move. Additionally, create a calendar as to what milestones you want to reach. For example, landing your first independent client or saving enough for three months of runway. Whatever your goal may be, coming up with a plan will give you an accurate timeline of how this transition will go.
Secure Your Finances
As we mentioned above on the importance of savings, it’s also a good strategy to work out any outstanding debts you might currently owe. This will clear up some space in cash you potentially need to loan money, as well as will alleviate some of the stress of constantly having to bring in revenue. Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re relatively debt-free.
Start out by looking through all of your expenses, as well as what you can cut back. It also might not be a bad idea to seek out strategies that can help you consolidate and knock out what you owe, such as a balance transfer, which can potentially give you an interest-free period on your credit card. The overarching goal is to put yourself in a position where rough patches are bearable, as the world of freelancing on your own can be a volatile one.
Expand Your Online Presence
Like any business, if you’re going to be competitive, you need to have a solid online presence. According to CNN, approximately 34% of the American workforce is now involved in the gig economy, and the other freelancers or consultants you’re competing against is growing every day. However, getting ahead of them with a great website will be a crucial step.
If you can afford it, having someone build you a custom website would be the most advantageous step, as it will set you apart from those with traditional website builders. However, if that’s not in the budget, then primarily focus on your UX, as this also is what separates you from others. You have a brand just as much as any other agency or consultancy you’re going against, which you should consider if that’s going to just be your name or a completely separate entity you create. From there, you’ll be able to hone in on what your brand really stands for.
Look For Some Remote Work
When making your transition, an excellent place to start looking for contracts is with remote work. After all, if you can earn money from home, then it becomes easier to implement a system that lends to both independent contract work as well as the passion projects you’re going for.
Keep an eye out on sites like Angel or RemoteOK for anything that might pique your interests. Even though something might not be ideal, these gigs could be great networking opportunities as well as expand your skillsets and in turn, makes you more marketable.
Build A Reputation. Build A Network.
Finally, perhaps the most important aspects to anyone that freelances or does consulting is acquiring strong word of mouth. As noted by Forbes, approximately 92% of consumers trust the word of their friends and family over any other source, making it one of the most surefire ways to gain new clients. And if you’re looking to really be successful, this needs to be critical.
First and foremost, follow the general rules that anyone would at their job, including being prompt, having clear communication skills, and even using proper grammar. The little things can go a long way, as you’d be surprised at how many people lose business over this. Also, always let your peers know that you’re open to accepting new clients, as it’ll get a reminder going in their head of anyone that needs work. And finally, remember to have fun, as that will be one of the biggest things that drive people to want to work with you.
What excites you the most about going out on your own? Comment with your answers below!