Should you go freelance? The right questions to ask yourself first

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ByMindquest

Published30 July 2020at12:57, updated on14 September 2020at16:26

Should you go freelance? The right questions to ask yourself first cover

If you are a developer or engineer living the 9-to-5 life, chances are that you have considered going independent at some point. No one would blame you. Becoming an IT freelancer can be a solid career choice  

Proof of this is the resurgence of self-employed workers we have been experiencing since 2018. However, this sweet desire often clashes with the harshness of reality. Plus, this lifestyle is not for everybody.  

Hence the importance of being prepared. It is essential that you ask yourself the right questions at the right time. Focus on these essential questions. 

Here are a few honest questions you should ask yourself before blindly jumping head-first into the unknown. 

The real reasons for your wish to be a freelance 

The first question you need to answer bluntly is why you really want to become a freelancer. What are your underlying motivations? Would you like to have more free time or no longer depend on an employer? Or is it because you would like to have a wider variety of projects from which to choose? Is it for financial gain? 

If your main arguments are mostly “anti-wage,” well – that is not always a good sign. There is the danger of opting for independent employment as a means of escape rather than as a set career goal. If it is only a question of no longer being a permanent employee, it is very likely that you will quickly be faced with the harsh reality. Being a freelancer doesn’t mean drinking French press coffee and decorating your table with a succulent plant while strumming a few hours a day on your keyboard. It is a real commitment, a new way of living and organising your day. 

You should take a look at what kind of relationship you have with work, identify your professional aspirations and define your priorities.  

Assess your strengths and areas for improvement 

Most often, someone embarking on a freelancing life already has years of salaried employment behind their back. They are, hence, well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Making an honest self-assessment is a must to orient your future moves.  

If you are disorganized by nature, for example, it will be good to put an effort into developing your organisational skills. You could use one of the many apps targeted at freelancers or improve your time-management methodology

You should also pay attention to your starting point. If you are starting with a non-existent network, this a disadvantage that you will need to work harder to overcome. If you have a financial safety net, then you have an advantage compared to those who start without any safety net.  

However, don’t turn these disadvantages into barriers. On the contrary, they must be seen as challenges to overcome, to push you to go even further and stay motivated. 

In some cases, it can be a good idea to do a little training before you start, to network a little and save enough money to be able to deal with unforeseen events. Take advantage of this period to clarify and outline your services offer and make a business plan. 

Defining your offer and your target audience 

Freelancing encompasses a large number of professions and services. An IT contractor must properly market their expertise in order to be successful. Their profile must fit into often-searched categories and nevertheless stand out from competitors. 

There are many questions to ask yourself at this stage: 

  • What services should I offer? What kinds of jobs do I want to do as a freelancer? 
  • What elements should I highlight to stand out from my competition? What are my strengths? 
  • How much is this kind of work worth today? 
  • Who is my offer for? 

Pay attention to state and European regulations 

This step is crucial. Depending on the country you plan to operate in, there will be several legal forms and statutes that you are obliged to comply with. Efficient management of your fiscal and employment status takes knowledge and caution. 

For example, you should find out about the rules governing sick leave and unemployment benefits before you start. The world in which you enter is radically different from the salaried one. 

Creating a personal business entity is a good place to start. Administrative and management procedures are greatly facilitated and you can often benefit from advantageous social contribution rates. Taxation is also interesting here.  

Working with industry-savvy recruiters can also help you choose your status and navigate the regulatory landscape.  

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