Whether you’re making your way out there as a freelancer or starting your own business, there’s plenty of benefit to striking out on your own. Greater freedom, the ability to use your skills to their full effect without being hobbled by employers, not to mention the full reward for your hard work. But if you want to make it on your own, you need to be self-sufficient. You need to be responsible not only for giving your work 100% of your effort to truly succeed, but you have to protect yourself from the risks of working for yourself. No-one else is going to do it.
You need your own smarts
When you work for yourself, it should be obvious you have a greater range of responsibilities than you would otherwise. Being good at what you do isn’t quite enough. You need to build a broad base of knowledge in several different areas. Time management and organization. Marketing. Accounting. Customer relationship management. Branding, whether for a business or as an individual. You’re in charge of both finding projects and work, as well as making sure that the results of said work are properly utilized. If you’re not ready to take responsibility for the full spectrum of tasks, you’re going to leave critical parts of running a business or working for yourself up to luck.
You need your own protections
You might not have been fully aware, but your past employers had a bunch of protections in place to keep the business free or at least insulated for certain kinds of risks. Now’s the time to start putting those protections in place. You need to ask and find the answers to questions like what is intellectual property? What is public liability insurance? What is business interruption protection? These are the protections that will make sure that others can’t steal a brand you’ve worked hard to build, that your business can survive any damage accidentally caused by the business, and that you can keep yourself afloat when circumstances make it impossible to run the business temporarily. Without putting these protections in place, there are too many risks around every corner.
You need your own standards
This is where even the savviest of entrepreneurs and freelancers can find themselves in most danger. You want to keep customers happy and to welcome as many of them as possible. However, not all clients are easy to deal with. Toxic clients come in many shapes, but the most dangerous are those who make demands on how you do your work. If you don’t have services pre-defined and priced fairly, you will find those clients who attempt to set prices for you and who ever ask for more without being willing to pay for it. You can get sucked into a spiral of doing work for ungrateful, disrespectful people who aren’t even monetarily worth the time you spend working for them. It’s important to set your own standards and be willing to say ‘no’ to those who want you to work outside them.
If the above points have scared you off working for yourself, then you’re not truly ready for it. There’s no burying your head in the sand here. If you can’t take care of yourself as a freelancer or business owner, you set yourself up for disaster.