Maybe you’re a creative, struggling to go freelance. Maybe you’ve got a killer business idea. Or maybe you just want to work from home, controlling your own hours and output.
We get it. Freelancing is the future. Hopefully, it’s your future too. But for all those looking to give up the day job, we’ve got a few things you might want to consider first.
Is it really time to leave?
Katie Yellig, a former employee at Coke, left her stressful full-time job to start up a business with her sister. “Think about your day,” she says. “Now think: If every day was just like that for the next 40 years, would you be happy with your life?”
You might, like Yellig, need to leave your current job eventually. But here’s the real question: do you have to do it now? Quitting a full-time role for freelance work means a loss of consistency, method and dependability in your income. Unless you have a significant nest egg shored up, you’re going to struggle for a few months.
If you’re still building up your side-business, consider carrying on in the office – for a while, anyway. Entrepreneur Christian Bonilla even thinks it could be good for you long-term. “About eight months into development,” he writes, “I decided we stood a better chance of succeeding if we shifted our product's emphasis… If I hadn’t had a paycheck in eight months, though, I might've tried to talk myself into staying the course. So having my day job was a crucial resource—not just financially, but for making smart choices, too.”
Can’t answer these eighteen questions? Rethink that resignation.
Consider flexible working
If you’ve worked over 6 months in your current role, you’re eligible to apply for flexible working. That means working from home, working reduced or changeable hours or working part-time. Your employer is legally obliged consider your request and can only refuse under specific, stated circumstances.
Working part-time or from home, particularly if your commute is lengthy, can do wonders for your time management. Freeing up even a couple of hours a day to work on your business/freelance job can mean keeping a good income while advancing your true career.
Get your side-hustle hustling
You can have the best idea in the world, but if it’s not making money when you quit your fulltime job then you’re setting yourself up to fail. Wherever you see yourself in six months time, we’re sure it’s not crawling to your former boss, begging him to take you back.
Of course there’s a point where you have to take a leap; quitting fulltime employment is a risk, as is going freelance in any endeavour. But don’t put all your eggs in one basket until progression dictates you have to. It’s perfectly possible to set up your own business while working for someone else. Get your side-hustle going while still employed, and only go full speed on it when you’ve got some traction or income to support your idea.
If you’re a writer, wait until someone’s paying you for your work before giving up the desk job. If you’re an entrepreneur, ensure your product has customers before your dedicate yourself fully to its pursuit. It’s common sense.
If you do quit, do it right
The world is small, particularly post-digital revolution, and burning bridges at any stage in your career can harm your chances in the future. Even if you hate your current job, you need to leave it with grace.
Check the terms of resignation in your contract and make sure you’re not breaking any rules. Hand in your notice well in advance – more than your contract stipulates, if possible. The company will appreciate having a long warning period in which to rehire and recruit.
Finally, hold off sending that angry, tirade-style email to your least favourite manager. You don’t need to do it and such an act will only count against you in the future. Control, young padawan.
Keep it real
It’s easy to assume that working for yourself is one long holiday. Put your dreams back in their box. Successful freelancing and entrepreneurship require rigid self-control, dedication, a killer work ethic and good old human support to pull off.
Will Russell quit his job to set up his own marketing company. While he acknowledges the advantages of self-employment, he also voices caveats.
“I've done several product launches this year,” says Russell, “that have fallen flat. I've had a couple of times where I wasn't sure how I would pay for rent the following month. These are my worst moments – when I feel like I've failed.”
Learning to cope with anxiety and self-doubt comes part and parcel with working for yourself. Russell continues: “I quickly learned that a measure of a solopreneur is when things are at their worst. That's when it takes real commitment and determination.”
Feel a little put off? Don’t be; being self-employed is a great goal to have, and one that’s totally achievable. “It's fascinating to me how we live our lives within a framework that feels concrete but is actually malleable,” says Russell – and he’s right. In the digital era, the concept of ‘work’ is becoming more and more mobile.
Still, don’t walk into the work of telecommuting blind. Know the risks, prepare yourself well, and you might – just might – weather the transition.
Susanna writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.