By Mel Sim

Read this first to see if it’s the right career move for you.

It is on top of everyone’s dream job, to be their own boss by going freelance. What’s not to like: You don’t have to answer to a boss, you basically are the master of your own destiny, and if you’re really good at it, you actually make quite a decent living!

That’s the good bits about going freelance... there are of course the not so exciting and idealistic part about it like bills to pay, clients to chase for payment, and slow months where you get absolutely no work at all.

Which is why it is important to take a step back and consider what it actually means to be a freelancer before you take that leap and quit your job. Here are six things you should think about before going freelance.

Are your skills in demand... and are you good at what you do?
Do you have a skill that is in high demand like writing, design or coding? These are popular skills many companies look for in freelancers and if you are good at it (with something to prove for), then you may be on the right track of going freelance. Some companies look for those in PR and marketing to help with additional projects they may have on board but this requires years of experience to convince the company to hire you as a freelancer. However, if your skills are pretty ordinary or if there’s nothing you can offer to companies as an individual, you might want to rethink your freelancing dreams.

Can you work solo?
There’s no fully stocked pantry in your home office, you won’t have colleagues to talk about your weekend plans, and there’s no boss to run to when you’re stuck or made a mistake. Freelancing can be a very lonely path and some people are not used to this; in fact, they thrive when they are in the company of others to do better at what they do. If this is you, chances are you’ll be bored even before you get your first proper client as a freelancer!

Do you have enough savings to tie you over first?
You got the right skills, some clients are interested to give you a go, and your home office is set up and ready to go. Before you jump head first into freelancing though, take a good look at your bank balance. The reality is you won’t get your first freelance cheque until much later as some projects take long to complete (and payment may only come in after!). Which is why you need to have a sizeable savings account for the dry months to make sure that you can still keep up with your commitments like rent and car installment.

Are you also business minded?
Can you network with new clients, do sales pitches, think of how to bundle your skills with another freelancer’s for more business opportunities and yes, even chase clients for payment? Being a freelancer means also looking at the business side of things so if you can’t be bothered with the admin work, freelancing might not be the right path.

Do you have the right soft skills?
Technical skills aside, how’s your communication skills? Or your persuasion skills? Do you have what it takes to win your clients over and offer great customer service? This goes back to how being a freelancer is like owning your own business and for businesses to succeed, you can’t rely on just your technical skills; you will need to have the right soft skills to sell your brand and business.

Are you organised?
Deadlines. Meetings. Invoices. Quotations. Pitches. Emails. Doing your own taxes. More emails. When you are working for a company, you don’t need to deal with half of these things because there are specific departments involved. But as a freelancer, you’re literally the entire company responsible for running a small business with one employee (you). Which means you have to do all of the above – and more – all by yourself.

Do you have insurance?
Here’s something most freelancers don’t think about: In a company, you are covered by some form of medical/health insurance as part of your employee’s benefits. But when you’re out on your own, you don’t have these to fall back on in case something happens to you. You can’t just walk into any clinic for treatment without paying (most companies cover this). Plus, you will need some form of savings like EPF for your retirement plan if you’re planning on going solo for a long time.

Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

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