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In the last couple of weeks I have come across many people who talked about how insecure they felt about their future and how being self-employed made them wonder whether they would be able to survive the next couple of months. As many are thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of the freelance and the employed life, I thought I might add some thoughts to the discussion.
When someone works for a company, it seems that they hardly ever think about the fact that someone else needs to take care of the supply of clients and customers for the future. Think of your own employer: are they transparent about the financial situation of the company? Do you really know what the strategy and vision are for the future? Does the company you work for have one major client who pays for the salaries of half of the company, or does the company have a number of smaller income sources? And what happens if the biggest source of income of the company you work for decides to work with someone else? Now all you have is a security of one month, which is your notice period.
One month! Does that sound like a safe choice to you?
Now the question is, do you trust the person who’s responsible for running the company you work for more than you trust yourself and your capabilities?
If you do, that’s wonderful because then going freelance might not be the right path for you, as I’ve explained here. Also, if you love your team, stay where you are! But if you know what your capabilities are then you know that you’ll always find a way forward. If you struggle with doing sales for your business then your strategy should be to look for agencies, middlemen and agents who will supply you with work and take a cut from your earnings. The real key is that you need to make sure that as many people as possible know what they could hire you for. You also need to make sure that these people are happy with your work and that you keep on being open to new opportunities.
I believe that the secret to feeling safe with your choice to go freelance is knowing why you’re doing it and where you see yourself in five to ten years. You have to be damn sure and keep thinking about what it is you’re building. What it is you want to achieve. I know it’s uncomfortable to think about it, which is why I often say to people that they need to first decide how they want to be spending their days in the next couple of months, and only then think about what they want from life.
The other secret (you knew there must be at least two) is finding a way to build a portfolio business; a company, your company, where there is not just one but several sources of income because once one dries out a little, the other one might flourish again. Don’t put everything on one single card. Try to have several up your sleeve.
Of course building a business with several sources of income doesn’t happen overnight, which is why I would love to set up a Google hangout for next week on Thursday, July 23rd at 7pm CET, to spark a conversation about portfolio businesses and trade experiences. If you’d like to participate, please hit reply so I can send you an invite.
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PS: Photo by Sarah Halbeisen, the awesome lady who shot the pictures for the new website.