Before you think this is going to be a slightly negative post, let me preface it by saying I absolutely love being freelance, I’m actually pretty much 100% unemployable so really I have no choice but that’s by the by. I actually made the choice years and years ago, back when I was still in school. Although I probably didn’t even know what the term freelance meant back then, I knew with every fibre of my being that I did not want a boss. Strong willed and stubborn? Yes. Slightly naive and sometimes a bit stupid? Probably. Was I right though? Abso-f**king-lutely. Now, before leaving school, like most of you I had already worked my fair share of jobs, sometimes multiple gigs at once so I had a fair idea of the system and how it worked – I wasn’t a fan. Total freedom was my aim and I vowed that I would do whatever it took to make that a reality. As much as this isn’t a ranty post, this also isn’t the story of some child prodigy who started her first business at the age of 16 or sneaked onto any kind of Forbes one-to-watch list, I wish. No, I like to do things the hard way so I spent years making mistakes, being self sufficient but definitely not in the way I had envisioned.
So, some things I wish I knew back then.
Save some cash. Save so diligently that you’ll be safe, even when the proverbial shit hits the fan – because trust me, it will. Hiding from your landlord isn’t fun and I wouldn’t recommend it. Do what I didn’t and have a plan. If you want to go-it-alone don’t just quit your job right away. Be honest with yourself about how much you need to live, then look at how much you can save each month, do the math and voila – that’s how long you need to stay in your current situation. You’re stuck, fine but time really does pass in the blink of an eye so get your head down and make it count, use your spare time wisely. Spend an hour each evening plotting and scheming, not only will you reach the end of the year with your very own pot of gold but you’ll be that much more equipped to successfully make the leap to freelance / small biz owner life.
Get a job. If your current job doesn’t have anything to do with the freelance career you really want for yourself, look at finding a job that utilises a similar skill set, even if it’s not in exactly the same sector. Take the job and learn everything you possibly can, look at it as building the foundations of your empire on someone else’s dime. Totally boss move. (Wish I had done the same!)
Be open to change, suggestions and advice. Don’t think that you’re so smart you know it all, you don’t. In fact, one of the best things you can do is to look for a mentor, someone you look up to, someone who has probably forgotten more than you know. Listen to them. You can still follow your gut and instinct, after all – whatever you’re building is yours and yours alone but making decisions from an informed place, will get you that much further. On that note, always try to make decisions with the long game in mind.
Network. I can’t say it enough. Network, network, network. Sure, it will feel icky at first and as a fairly typical introvert, I feel your pain but as anyone living that freelance life knows, your contact list is second only to the quality of work you produce. You would be surprised at the amount of opportunities that arise after you begin to work collaboratively and in a mutually beneficial way with others. Also if you’re the only one in your friendship group that’s trying to go it alone, finding others in a similar situation will be invaluable. Jim Rohn famously said that we are average of the 5 people we spend the most time with and I would totally agree, our relationships influence us greatly, whether we realise it or not.
Have a system. Have multiple systems. This is something that historically speaking, I have never done, choosing instead to fly by the seat of my pants, making it all up as I went along and never being consistent in my approach. It caused me to come unstuck more times than I’d care to admit.
All of the above (and way more!) is why I am SO excited to tell you that the project that I have been working on with Adrienne and AJ, has finally launched!!
Get To KNOW. A community and resource for creative women worldwide, is now live and ready for all of you awesome boss babes!
Head over to our brand new (but still a work in progress – much like us) site, have a look around and find out how to get in on the launch event. We’re already working hard on our next 3 totally boss events as well as a whole host of more informal meet ups plus some helpful (and hopefully inspirational) digital content! We’re learning and figuring things out as we go but I am so excited to watch this grow and evolve along with us.