Making a living from doing what you love sounds like a dream, running a studio with no boss to worry about, work the hours you like and make as much money as you like - well that’s the dream.
Being self employed may be the best decision you make, but before you take the plunge here are 5 things you need to know;
Those People Who Promise To Give You Work When You Go It Alone… Won’t
A sensible thing when considering going freelance is to ask around to see who may give you work, it seems that everyone you tell about your new venture is going to give you work, most of them won’t. They are not liars, it’s just a combination of politeness, a desire to encourage you, a wish not to discourage you. Whatever the motivation it creates a false impression of having a future with limitless work. At best you’ll get 10% of the work you are promised before you make the jump.
You Need To Learn To Do A Lot Of Things… Quick
Make sure you know your trade like the back of your hand, mixing or editing or playing your instrument that’s going to be the easy bit. The hard bit is learning to be a sales person, marketing expert, social media specialist, web designer, book-keeper, tax specialist and all the other skills you’ll need to keep your business running and you’ll need to learn them quick. Just this week I got a ‘VAT EC Sales List’ form to complete from the Inland Revenue, tuning the vocal performed by a cat with its nuts attached to electrodes would be an easier job. This is just one of many things that will start to be part of your life if you work freelance.
40 Hour Weeks.. Those Are Short Ones
When people ask me what I do for a living I often say I’m freelance which means I work three days a week. If my wife is in earshot she will jump in and say, ‘rubbish! it’s more like 70 hours a week!’ Whilst the idea of working freelance can suggests afternoons on the beach or down the pub, the reality is that to make a real living and to keep your clients happy it often means working very long hours, weekends and few holidays. Yesterday I started at 7:00am and eventually stopped on projects around 11pm, of course I stopped for lunch and took the dog for a walk, but if you go freelance then 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday is a thing of the past.
It Can Be Lonely…Really
Perhaps the hardest thing about working for yourself is the possible sense of isolation. Not just the inevitable physical isolation but the fact that when you need to come up with ideas, writing plans, dealing with negotiations or working out what to do about a difficult situation, it is often down to you. It is therefore essential to surround yourself with people you can trust, business mentors and those you can share creative ideas with who can tell you when they stink and when they shine. Having these people will ensure you continue to be a great creative and also make sure you don’t send emails or make phone calls that you shouldn’t. Mike is one of my mine, he helps me figure stuff out and stops me from making some really stupid mistakes.
It’s Not For Everyone… Honestly
I remember a few years ago I was working in a production company and one of my colleagues got to produce a motivational series, it was called ‘How To Retire In A Year.’ My first question when I saw what he was doing was to ask why the guy selling the idea was still working. You’ll find plenty of people willing to take your money with their amazing ‘How To Be A Millionare’ or ‘You Can Sh*t Gold’ course that promises to turn anyone into the next Steve Jobs or Pharrell Williams. There are no shortcuts, it takes a very special type of person to create and run their own business and some people are just not cut out for it, or it’s not your time yet, you are not ready now but you may be later. I tried to run a business when I was 23 but it failed, mainly because of me, I was just not mature enough to deal with the challenges it presented. I tried again in my early 40s and this time it’s been a success. You might not be ready now, but give it a decade and a few thousand mistakes that teach you wisdom and you might be perfect for the job. For some the idea of working for yourself is a red light, for others it’s an amber one.
Should I Work For Myself?
Want to work for yourself? After reading all of this you might think, working for yourself sounds like a really bad idea. For the right people it’s the thing that could change their lives for the better.
It’s hard running your own business but it’s the best career decision I ever made… however it’s just after 9am so I’m off down the pub in my Ferrari (as if!)