11th December 2014
Firstly, what is your idea? It may seem that you should first ask if you are well-suited to freelancing. However, regardless of your personal qualities, you need to have a coherent idea or self-employment can quickly become unemployment.
Take your idea, and look at the market. Is there a genuine gap in the market, or are there other people doing something like it? If there is competition, how would you distinguish yourself? Can you provide a faster service or product, or would it be cheaper, or higher quality?
Write down the answers to these questions. What you are doing is beginning to build a business plan, and it will be a valuable resource as you go through the process of becoming self-employed.
Is this for Me?
Next, consider your personality as objectively as you can. If you’re not sure, you can manage this, ask a trusted friend for total honesty (but be prepared not to take offence at their response). A good freelancer needs to manage their time well, be highly organised, self-sufficient and prepared to work extremely hard.
If you don’t meet all of these criteria, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you would make a bad freelancer. However, it does mean you should think about what would help you reach those standards.
For example, if you are generally disorganised, would scheduling a set period of time for administrative tasks into your day help? If so, press on! Note it down with your other answers, so that you can be sure to implement whatever accommodations you need to function effectively when the time comes.
The Business Plan
The next step is to work out if your business is economically viable. What would your costs be, and what would you charge? When performing some initial costing, don’t forget the hidden expenses that can quickly add up. These include tax, transport, equipment, insurance and other similar expenses.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of your time, and some profit, which will be used to invest in your enterprise. A common freelancer mistake is to underestimate the value of your work, so make sure to avoid falling into this trap.
Then you should look at the range of market rates for similar services or products. Are you going to be able to be competitive while still earning a decent living? At this stage, it may be tempting to reduce the amount you have allocated to pay for your time to become more competitive, but resist this urge.
Taking the Plunge
A large part of being self-employed is self-confidence, and it is important to expect to be paid a reasonable amount for your time and expertise. After all, becoming a freelancer is something of a risk: it involves accepting a certain amount of instability for the chance to realise your full potential and be your own boss. So take a deep breath, have faith in your abilities, and go forth and conquer.