Freelance Smart: Get Clear on Your Objectives for Flying Solo

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Building a business is much akin to building a house: one of the most important aspects is starting with a strong & solid foundation that sets the tone for the remainder of your work. After all, how can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting from? Whether you’re aspiring to become an independent freelancer or planning to start-up a small business, it’s important to examine your reasoning and motivation for wanting to go from employee to entrepreneur. A few things to consider:

DON’T Start From a Place of Desperation

Feeling dissatisfied with your job, your workplace or your colleagues or boss is a reason to change jobs, not necessarily careers. Your desire to become an entrepreneur should be rooted in your passion for whatever type of work you want your venture to focus around, something you feel you’re best suited to do working independently or for yourself. If you’ve had the idea in your head for awhile that starting a custom stationary business for brides to be would be your dream job, then voila – you’re starting from a good place, an idea you’re passionate about! If you simply don’t like working in an office environment and like the idea of being able to take unlimited smoke breaks… you may want to reexamine your true career goals, like finding a job that lets you work from home. Similar is the case if you’ve decided to start a business simply because you are out of work and tired of job searching. Entrepreneurship is not a magical career band-aid.

DO Build Confidence & Clarity Around Your Ideas!

Are you jazzed by the notion of putting action behind your creative ideas and creating something material out of them? Good! Now what do you want those ideas to amount to – a side gig, a full time business, a freelance business that allows you to choose the clients and projects you work with, but on a more traditional schedule?

DO Understand Your Financial Objectives

If your goal is to create a side gig for yourself, how much supplemental income do you want it to represent to make it worth your while? If you want to freelance or contract full time, or you’re starting a business as your new or eventual full time job, how much money do you need to make to be able to live comfortably? Part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is getting very very well-acquainted with your finances. Don’t have a budget yet? Make one. You need to know what your 1) monthly personal expenses are, 2) your estimated monthly business expenses, and your 3) initial or one-time start-up costs are. And this is a big part of creating an effective exit strategy to shift from one career phase to another. For right now, use this for brainstorming and clarity purposes. Download a free budget template.

DO Build a List of Your Skills & Strengths. All of them.

The same way you need to be able to communicate in a job interview what skills, strengths and experience you can bring to the table that will make you successful in the role you’re applying for, you need to know what’s in your tool kit for starting your business. You may doing something directly related to what you were doing in your last or current full time job, the only difference being that you want to do it as an independent contractor or freelancer. Or, you may be building a business or side venture based around additional skills and interests you have that aren’t necessarily part of your existing career or job. And in most cases, there will be overlap. Look at what ALL of your skills are that you possess that can potentially work in your favor: “great customer service, strong knowledge of Adobe Creative, HTML coding, acrylic painting, making lattes, etc.”

DON’T Forget About Skills You Want or Need to Acquire

You probably have an idea of the necessary or relevant skill sets you need to be able to run your business or freelance venture. Once you know what you’ve got in your tool kit to work with, what else is left that you still need or want to learn that will help you succeed in your new role? Particularly with running a business, there is a huge range of skills involved with being a business owner or independent: marketing, sales, operations, customer service, design, organization, communication, etc. etc. And make no mistake, you will naturally build these skills as you move further along in the process and continue educating yourself on how to run an independent business. But what do you need right now to get yourself up and running? What resource are available to you to get that training or knowledge and build those skills?
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