“You just need to be brave and start” — wise words for the new freelancer

This content was originally published at: https://medium.com/@freeagentapp/you-just-need-to-be-brave-and-start-wise-words-for-the-new-freelancer-f00b0fa791b8

The UK freelance community is big and it’s getting bigger — recent government statistics show that 4.79 million people (15.1% of all the people in work) are now self-employed and this figure is likely to further grow this year. If you’ve been in the freelancing game for a while it can be easy to forget that becoming your own boss can be pretty daunting.

At FreeAgent we know that the freelancing community are a supportive, helpful and collaborative bunch, so for Small Business Advice Week (5–11 September) we surveyed freelancers and small business owners to ask ‘What do you wish you’d known when you started freelancing?’. Here are some of the results…

Getting started

“You don’t have to know everything before getting started. You just need to be brave and start.” Onder, digital marketer
“It took about 12 months before I got my head round being my own boss. One friend who took the plunge into his own business described it as “rewiring your brain to work for yourself”. When it finally happened it was a wonderful sense of relief and freedom, before that “rewiring” it was a constant worry!” Ian, software testing services
“Bank on not being paid for at least 90 days so have a cash buffer to start with if you can.” Mark, B2B marketer
“Keep overheads as low as possible to start with. Every penny you have in overheads is coming out from your gross income before you get paid.”  Matt, IT and digital marketing consultant

Believe in yourself

“Trust your instincts. Put yourself out there and don’t hide away. Otherwise no one will find you.” Angela, management consultant
“You can do it! There are lots of people who have started a business before, so finding some of those people and asking questions about how to get you going will help immensely. You may discover that it is easier than you would think.” Justin, structural engineer
“Be patient. Success doesn’t come overnight and there will be many late nights, frustrations and disappointments. But in the end, it will all be worth it.” Onder, digital marketer

Don’t undersell your services

“It’s a trial and error situation. Deciding what to charge can and will change, but just don’t let others take advantage of you in the beginning or it will be something they continue to do. You know what you are worth.” Cyndee, graphic and web designer
“Only somebody who doesn’t respect your work would ask you to do it for free or way below market rate. They always turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth.” Louise, freelance writer
“Consider stricter payment terms for your first invoice with a new client, or, even better, a deposit up-front.” Alex, app developer

Clients can be tricky

“Friendship counts for nothing. The two worst ‘clients’ I’ve ever had were people I’d known previously.” Andy, graphic designer
“It’s hard. In my line of work (consulting) clients are probably already people you know but those same people who used to reply to your email/voicemail when you were a director in a multi-national corporation now don’t!” John, strategy and communications consultancy
“Follow your gut! If a client seems like a pain they probably will be so turn them down and wait for a good client to come along.” Tom, software developer
“It really isn’t difficult to write a proposal for each project/client. It protects me from being messed around, keeps my cashflow steady with staged payments and weeds out bad clients before I start work for them.” Mat, graphic and web designer

If there’s one thing I know…

“Work hard, take breaks. Family is all important — even if it means compromising on money.” Anon
“No matter what your business, customer service is super important. Just do a good job, be nice to people and they will come back!” Bex, graphic designer
“Delegate where you can, communicate where you can’t.” Anon, business manager
“Always keep in mind why you are in business and doing what you are doing.” Ciaran, IT cloud services

And finally…no one works well on an empty stomach

“If you work from home then learn to cook.” Dave, web platform developer

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