Taking that bold step to give up a job to enter into the precarious world of self-employment is never an easy one. You will be beset with worry most of the time for various reasons. But in the end you will feel that it’s all worth it. I’ve been a freelancer for just over three years now and I cannot foresee a time now that I go back to working for a typical business and do a typical job.
That’s not to say it’s all fun and games. You will have times when you ask yourself whether you are doing the right thing. You will have crisis points and you will have much to worry about. Fear, frustration, sleepless nights – you will experience all three. There are many fears when freelancing but I have narrowed it down to five. Why five? Because Five Fears of Freelancing is catchy 😉 Go on, say it Five Fears of Freelancing.
Number 1: Am I Doing the Right Thing?
This applies most to people who are taking a big step, as I did, in giving up a secure job. It is a question you will ask yourself every day. You will convince yourself, especially when you have no clients, that you just made the worst possible decision you could have made. When I did it, I had no ties so it was the right time. I was divorced and living alone and decided that if I didn’t do it now and at least try, I never would. Your first clients will take time and you will potentially be on a low income for a while until you can build a portfolio of work and clients. I am never one for saying that people should think positively, it’s counter-productive, harmful even. Paranoia and fear are a natural parts of our evolution. Acknowledge the doubt but don’t let it overrule you.
Number 2: Am I Good Enough?
Second to whether you are doing the right thing is whether you are even capable. Are you aiming too high? Are you overestimating your abilities? Are you making a stupid decision, not because it’s risky, but because you simply are not good enough? That fear again. Acknowledge it, it is what will keep you grounded, but don’t ignore them. You should acknowledge that you will make mistakes. You will have clients for whom your best will never be quite what they want. That’s ok. You have limitations and you have skills and you can’t please all of the clients all of the time.
Number 3: Will I Get Paid?
The bane of the freelancer is clients who will rip you off. After all, this is your livelihood. There are hundreds of horror stories on the internet of people not paid for work finished. Thankfully, it is rare. Most freelancers will have one bad client that never paid them, but you do have options to either get your work back or get some money. In the UK, we have a small claims court system for jobs of small value. When a business goes bust, you may not get any of your money or you might get some. That is simply one of the risks of freelancing. Not getting paid happens, but it is rare.
Number 4: What if I Lose This Contract?
Remember the first time you got your first big contract? It’s either high paying or high volume. You want to keep it, forever preferably. At the back of your mind is the very real idea that it will not last forever. Much of your freelancer work depends on your clients remaining in business. If their business fails, that will have a knock on effect for you. This is why it is best not to put all your eggs in one basket. Nothing beats the disappointment of losing a valued client or the work. You will get something to replace it though, and it will nearly always be something better.
Number 5: Will This Last?
Life feels good when you are earning a comfortable income from your business. The nature of self-employment means that it is not constant, unlike a salaried job. You will have quiet times and busy times. The fear is that the comfortable times and the really good times will one day go into terminal decline. The majority of businesses fail in the first year, but as a freelancer you have lower running costs so you have much more time than one that operates from a premises. That doesn’t negate the fear that one day, some day, your business will go into terminal decline. So long as you are prepared to work at it and adapt, there is no reason that will happen.