Over three years ago, I took the elevator down from the corporate world, trading business suits and office hours for flannel shirts and flexibility as I walked up the stairs of self-employment, equipped with a heart full of hope, a mind full of ideas and the technology that I needed to bring them to life.
I exchanged the security and comfort of my full-time, permanent position and entered a recondite realm of unexplored opportunities, which presented its own unique set of challenges, with my inner doubts and fears creating some of the largest obstacles on my path towards becoming a successful freelancer.
That is, until I realized that I needed to kick those excuses to the curb. With a little logic and reasoning, this is how you can overcome your defences:
1. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will
If you are thinking about launching a side hustle, a self-defeating mindset could potentially be your number one enemy in discouraging you from getting started. So rather than setting your expectations unreasonably high and becoming paralysed by the polished end product, embrace the occasional setback as another step in your creative process.
Don’t become overwhelmed by a lack of self-confidence; with a clear vision, start breaking down your core goal into smaller attainable steps, as those will always be easier to pursue than broader business strategies. This, in turn, will help to build your confidence, enabling you to reach the intended objective much sooner through the application of rationale and critical thinking.
For extra security and reassurance, consider setting up a contingency plan to anticipate potential issues and ways to deal with them ahead of time, minimizing the effects of any unexpected circumstances or conditions. It might also be worthwhile to build a support network of people who could possibly offer reassurance and advice throughout the transition.
Above all else, though, remember the reason why you wanted to start your freelance business in the first place; surely it would be better to have embarked on a journey filled with meaning and purpose, rather than looking back on an unfulfilled lifetime of regrettable ‘what-ifs.’
2. There is no time like the present
Most of us are busy, most of the time, but having a packed schedule is a reflection of hard work, endurance and dedication, which are some of the skills required to start a side hustle. So if you’re already juggling a day job, a family and social life, as well as a number of other adulting responsibilities, then you may want to start small.
Time is certainly something that we all want more of, but unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day, so now is the moment to take advantage of any vacation time with your current employer, using evenings and weekends to work on your side hustle, perhaps even cutting low-priority pastimes from your agenda to commit as few as four – five hours a week on establishing your new freelance business.
By the same token, it may be an important time to master the art of saying ‘no’, as this two-letter word will empower you to live a more focused life by removing certain tasks that may be a deadweight in your calendar and channelling your time and energy into more productive activities, which should be treated in the same way that you would treat a meeting or deadline set by a client.
In other words, place a clock on your desk, turn the notifications on your mobile phone off, hide your remote control and have an infinite supply of coffee on hand because even the smallest of distractions can take precious moments away from you that you can never get back.
3. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money
Another major inhibitor can be the monetary investment that may be involved in launching a freelance business, but some careful planning and preparation could help to set you up for long-term success, especially if you have saved a small amount of money in the bank to fall back on in the first few months.
And if you’re not already in the habit of budgeting your finances, now is the time to start turning the endless number crunching, spreadsheets, and paperwork associated with your side hustle into an automated routine, keeping track of your incomings and outgoings, reviewing expenditures and making cuts wherever necessary.
However, if you still find that you’re coming up short, there is a possibility that you may be able to bypass traditional forms of financing by pitching your business idea to a wider audience, by way of your personal network or websites like Kickstarter and Crowdfunder, where you can receive backing from supporters via contributions.
In most cases, though, the seemingly mammoth undertaking of launching your own freelance business may not be as expensive or as daunting as you first imagined and, when executed correctly, the compensation should be both tangible and sustainable in the long run.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as a freelancer?