“If you are truly convinced of having a quality project, sooner or later you will realise it because you will have the tenacity to propose, develop and improve it.” (Renzo Piano)
There’s every chance that in future, the working world will be based on professions created by individuals rather than offered by organisations. If that is the case, many may either wish (or be obliged) to become freelancers. It also needs to be said that today’s high-tech, interconnected world offers a plethora of opportunities and makes freelancing a much more viable option.
Freelancing comes with numerous advantages in terms of professional freedom and variety and enables you to work with many people, but you should not overlook the fact that you also need to have an equally wide variety of skills, not just of the technical kind. You require management, social and sales skills because at the end of the day, as a freelancer you are running a one person business.
To give you a head start on the route to freelancing, here are our first five tips:
Become your own freelancing business
This involves: being prepared to define your mission and its critical success factors, namely the features that set you apart from others in your field, giving your work an added value that is recognised and appreciated by your clients; turning your mission into an actual strategy which you should set out in writing and tell others about; planning an annual budget for projected earnings in relation to costs and cash flow; planning sales and promotional activities to look after and retain existing clients, while seeking and nurturing potential new contacts leading to quotations and further business; stopping to check occasionally along the way to see if what you have achieved corresponds to what had planned to do, assessing any (positive or negative) discrepancies and what action to take; dedicating time to innovating so you can offer clients something new from time to time.
Going freelancing is not synonymous with going solo. You don’t have to be alone or do everything single-handed, rather should have a solid network of allies with skills and competences you may not have yourself, but are crucial if you are to do a first-rate job for your clients. Alternatively, you may possess the skills and competences in question, but you may simply need help when you’re snowed under.
Alliance building is a delicate process because it is vital to understand if your allies have the right characteristics and criteria and how to verify if they have. In essence, the evaluation and selection process is a very similar process to that of selecting staff, so avoid alliances based on merely on friendship or word of mouth, unless these potential allies have been truly assessed and considered in much the same way as an organisation would decide who to hire.
Once formed, these alliances must be fed, stimulated, enrichened and periodically reassessed.
Develop the right method
Your working method is one of the most significant ways in which a freelancer can stand out of the crowd so it follows that you must decide on your own personal method and how to ensure it can be perceived by the client. You should have methods for: presenting quotations, planning your work, estimating costs, reporting progress, meeting potential clients, and so forth. It is fundamental to put together you own personal methods consisting of procedures, documents, symbols, practices, terms, etc. It is also fundamental that you have the determination to develop and apply your method over time and remember to review it periodically.
Wear lots of hats
Seeing as you represent an entire company rolled into one, you have to take on different roles or “hats”. There’s the technical/professional hat, the strategist’s hat, the salesperson’s hat, the innovator’s hat, the accountant’s hat, the planner’s hat, the communicator’s hat. Each role has different characteristics and sometimes they may even clash. For instance, when wearing your salesperson’s hat you may be tempted to grant the client a discount to secure the business, whilst the accountant in you will tell you that you would be working at a loss if you do. Decide which hats you wish to wear (and which you cannot or do not wish to wear, hence the need for allies who can wear them for you) and remember that you can only wear one hat at a time and that you need to change hats often to ensure all the areas of your business are covered because adapting to various roles is fundamental for the outcome of your work.
Make the most of the freedom you have
One of the pros of freelancing is that you are your own boss and as such, you can treat yourself with the flexibility, congeniality and benevolence you would like from a boss but isn’t always forthcoming for a number of reasons.
Although it is advisable to establish a working method, it is equally true that freelancing does not require the same sorts of rules that are needed to organise people working together, a typical example of which are working hours. While we would recommend giving yourself rules and objectives when it comes to the number of hours you work (a useful way of calculating your productivity and engagements) take full advantage of the freedom you have to organise your day based on your personal rhythms and needs, without worrying if you deviate from standard working hours. Be free to decide how you spend your time: it is a luxury that people working for organisations cannot allow themselves.
#theartofworking is the art in believing in yourself and your capabilities without being arrogant