Being a freelancer is wonderful thing for many reasons. With ever-growing market, and needs that just get bigger with every year, it was never easier to join this army of “free” men and “explore new territories”!
Now is the perfect time to hit the market, and show everybody what you are capable of. The best of all is that you will be your own boss, and there will be no one to tell you what and when you should do.
However, being led by these thoughts might let you forget the other side. Those are the problems you will face. And there will be a lot of them. I’m telling you this from the perspective of person that started his own business like this quite some time ago.
So, let’s look at the problems you will face when you become freelancer.
1. Small Projects
If you are a “one man band” you won’t be able to apply for a big project on your own. You won’t be able to handle them, and you should definitely avoid joining forces with other freelancers if you haven’t done this before.
Small projects are not necessarily bad, but they don’t challenge you as big ones. Besides, working in IT-outsourcing industry taught me many things, but this one for sure: “When building a small system you will have constant amount of work only for so long”. The reason for this is that all projects have budgets, and you can’t expect small projects to have big budgets.
2. Less Workload After Delivery
All clients need maintenance of their systems, and maintenance requires your attention. This means that after each project is delivered to a client, you will be obligated to help them out. If you’re not willing to do so, client will feel left alone and will search for someone reliable. Lost client means lost recommendation. This inevitably leads to less work.
3. Split Attention
After a while, number of clients you serve will increase, and this is a problem on it’s own. We only have 24 hours in one day. Due to this, one can serve just so many clients at the same time.
To provide a quality service one must dedicate their attention to specific task. Sharing attention and jumping between tasks is never a good option for productivity.
4. Unbalanced Workload
Although it might seem that some businesses are more and some less seasonal, some rules may apply for all businesses. For instance: Christmas time brings different workload for everyone celebrating it. This goes for all holidays, as well as vacations.
Having to serve multiple client requests will get you from periods where you won’t be able to handle all the requests to times where there will be almost no requests at all.
5. Irregular Income
Taking care of finances and controlling yourself isn’t easy. When you are the one and only person taking care of business, it is easy to spend all the money without planning ahead. Without planning your budget carefully, you can easily end up rushing into finding new source of income, and damaging your reputation with current clients.
With that in mind, you should read about little known ways to save money.
6. Paperwork Obstruction
When you work alone, you have to take care of taxes, health insurance and retirement plan. It will be additional stress to you, and can take some of your spare time, or influence your business performance.
7. Chasing Payments
Once you are an “one man band show”, you will have to take care of unfulfilled payments as well. Not only you’ll have to care about when is the right time to send invoice to get the best response, but you’ll have to have a strategy on how to make sure you get paid. It won’t be easy, but you’ll have to learn how to deal with non-paying customers, and take it without stress.
Being a freelancer is not necessarily a bad thing, as there are many benefits like flexible working hours, relaxed environment, direct communication and less stress in general. This position, if managed properly (especially when it comes to money management) can lead to forming an agency and then a company, and is usually the best way if you’re starting from scratch. This way, you can allow yourself to really be your own boss.