You can label yourself any way you want, whether it’s self-employed, a freelancer, an entrepreneur or a business owner. You’re making an independent living by yourself and from the business you’re building. I was a freelancer for awhile as I was getting LooseKeys rolling. I knew when I left Daily Planet ltd. that I didn’t want to just be a freelancer; I had already done that for a few years and knew the challenges I was going to run into.
One challenge you face as a freelancer is that you’re going to reach a point where you can’t earn any more income. You can always be working harder but there are only so many hours in the day and your rate can only be so high. Instead, I wanted to build something and to work at starting a business that one day could run itself.
Over the last couple years at LooseKeys things have been going well and I’m very happy with the people I’m working with, the work we’re doing and the direction we’re headed.
Maybe one day you’ll decide that you too want to go beyond freelancing at a new company every week and decide to go out on your own and start a business. There are many challenges you’ll confront when making that move.
The difficulty I faced was in that transition from a single freelancer to a business or a brand I was selling to clients. As a freelancer you may be lucky and have a dedicated number of clients who continue to call on you because they are happy with your work. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to explain to clients that it’s not just me doing the work, that I run a business now. These previous clients who have hired you for freelance in the past know you and trust you. So they contact you for a freelance job but you have to let them know that you would be taking the job on with your team. It took at least a year to shake that freelancer idea from my past clients; you have to educate and promote your business. Work on it everyday.
Most of the questions I got were “Now you’re working with other people?” “Can your old clients trust these people?” “Can they do the same work that they see in your portfolio?”
Speaking of a portfolio; when you do transition to running your own business, you have to build your new businesses portfolio from scratch. More than likely you can’t show any work you did at your previous employment because that’s not your new businesses work, that’s work you did at another company. Depending on where the work was done, you might be a able to work out a deal but usually company X isn’t going to like to see that your new company is saying they did that work. It’s a Catch-22; you can’t get clients without a portfolio and you can’t build a portfolio if you don’t have any clients.
I’m sure the same thing happened when you first entered the working world. What did you do to build your name and promote yourself before? You sold your skills and created your own projects. You have to do the same for this new business with your team of people. You need to be getting these jobs and then have your team work on them. Sell, then delegate the work that comes in. Jump in when you can but you’re not a freelancer anymore, you have people working for you who want to do the work. Give them work to do. If you love doing the work too, then hire someone to sell. You have to be delegating the work in order to grow and build a business.
These are different challenges than being a freelancer but nothing that’s too complicated to overcome. It takes time and I still get emails and calls asking me to freelance on jobs. I make it clear that me and my team at LooseKeys can do this yes, but it’s a team, it’s a WE not an I anymore.
If you’re interested or thinking about making the move from the freelancing life then start by getting a few bigger projects and out-sourcing some of work. See how you like managing a project rather than just being the one doing the entire project.