Did you know that Mozart was the first freelancer in history?
As I read in an article by the popular journalist “Máximo Pradera”, Mozart took advantage of a factor he had against him (and could not release operas) to invent the so-called “piano concertos”. He managed to give 27 concerts where he was everything: he composed; he looked for the orchestra, the venue and even the assistants. It wasn’t so bad, was it?
I am sure that many of you who are reading this post have made that radical change from being “salaried” to “freelance”, and that the trend is increasing. For example, it is estimated that the 43% of professionals that will be on Linkedin (USA) in the year 2020 will belong to the latter group; without a doubt, a very significant fact.
Good preparation, an entrepreneurial spirit or taking advantage of an opportunity with one or several clients are the triggers to make the leap to the freelance world and become the “freelancers of the future”.
Who doesn’t like to work remotely from time to time, work flexible hours, know different sectors, use the tools that make you more efficient, decide the pricing, etc, etc.?
But not everything is rosy; currently, the lack of social protection and tax burdens increase the stress index for this group, which even at specific moments can feel isolating. To this must be added the risk of non-payment by clients and the irregularity of income, which tend to fluctuate considerably throughout the year.
Having said that, I would like to share some tips that I have learned with my experiences and that I think will be useful if you decide to jump “into the pool”:
Organization of the working day
Personally, I have come to the conclusion that if I organize my week based on the activities and / or hobbies that I enjoy the most, I am happier and more efficient in my work. In my opinion, a good strategy is that you mark at least 3 activities a week that are important to you (English, crossfit and picking up your child at school, for example) and based on that you organize your timetable. Take advantage that you are the owner of your time and enjoy the opportunity that working for yourself gives you.
Important! You have to adapt the timetable to your needs but we must not forget at what times of the day we are more productive to take advantage of them.
Knowing how to say NO
A very high percentage of those who start as freelancers are afraid of “not surviving” and tend to take any project that comes their way. ERROR!!! One of the keys at the beginning is to learn to rule out and to say NO. It is vital that you analyze the project before committing yourself, look closely at the company / person with whom you will collaborate and, above all, decide “what your work costs”. When a negotiation starts badly, it is very likely that the end result will end worse than it started. Try to choose projects that motivate you!
I have to admit that some time ago I was not aware of the impact that the work environment can have on performance, but after spending several months locked up at home I understood; I felt in low spirits and every so often I needed those moments of disconnection, a clear sign that it was not the most appropriate environment.
In addition, if in your work you need to develop a differential value, your environment will be the one that empowers or inhibits the creativity necessary for it. From my experience, in addition to working a few days from home, I recommend a good co working space because it gives you:
- Flexibility: From one month to the next you can unsubscribe and in many you can choose if it is half-day / full or a fixed / changeable table.
- Tranquillity: Everyone is very focused on their project and as a general rule it is an ideal place to concentrate.
- Networking: There are usually events where you end up meeting people from other cultures and very different sectors.
- Fresh air: Sometimes you can interact with startups that are doing well and can be a source of inspiration.
Another alternative that is not bad is going to the library, but I recommend it for specific days when you really need to be focused and do not want to take calls.
When we make a “business plan” it is said that we have to evaluate three scenarios: optimistic, realistic and pessimistic. Well, none of that! You have to start being pessimistic! Why? Because one is more prudent, a forecast of “no income” is made at least for the first 3 or 4 months and if things goes better than expected it is a huge morale booster; do not forget that many customers pay 30, 60, and even the longest, 90 days.
In such a competitive and dynamic work environment, the best way to highlight and ensure the future is the constant acquisition of new knowledge and being aware of the technologies that allow you to be more efficient in your sector.
Professional social networks, blogs, tutorials and the tools that allow you to keep all the information in one place help a lot to know trends and news, but what is experiencing a real revolution is training and teaching. The universities are focusing on niches and that is because people do not want to pay a large amount to have a degree, but prefer to make courses / shorter programs, specific and economic, where they quickly see a return on investment and also do some networking.
Finally, we must not forget that soft skills are gaining ground and everything that can be done by reading, online training, experimentation and even the timely hiring of a consultant, can help improve them.
Diversification of risk
Beware of the 80-20 rule! It is not advisable that 20% of your customers generate 80% of your invoicing because in such a changing environment the survival of your business can not be in the hands of a few. It is ideal to have repeat clients, but do not rest on your laurels and continue to expand your portfolio so as not to depend on anyone.
A good personal branding strategy will help you to position yourself in a saturated market. Do not forget that we live in the age of Google and that all the information they need about you will be within the reach of a click.
As Seth Godin says:
“Do you think you’re going to offer something different? Because the rest we have already seen it and it does not attract our attention”
If you do not have a differential advantage, do not jump into the void, work on generating it and add value to the market.
The world economy is experiencing a revolution in the demand for freelance professionals and, increasingly, companies are looking for very specific profiles to meet certain needs.
I hope that my advice will be useful if you have to evaluate such an important decision and I encourage you to share your experiences and points of view.
Thank you very much!