From corporate gig to entrepreneur!

It came as a surprise to me that in Europe, around 16.1% of the workforce is classed as freelance. The figure is even higher in the U.S., tilting the gig economy into a lumpier 35%. If you are firmly in the corporate sector, you’ll know what it’s like to remain relevant in a work environment where climbing that proverbial ladder gets you up in the morning. With mid-thirties approaching fast and two daughters making their way through grade school much quicker than I anticipated, the journey into self-employment was one that I embraced with open arms. Did I have a few misconceptions when I started? Heck yes!

It really is a business; it’s your business

While my family thinks I float around in my pyjamas, watching Netflix all day, working for myself is hard work. It’s more than just switching on the laptop and checking the phone ringer is up high.  Documents have to be produced, emails answered, and appointments scheduled for clients. 

You wear many hats as a business owner and will probably end up working longer hours too, well in the beginning at least. This is because the actual job is not the only thing keeping you busy. You also have to be the marketer, web designer, write your own blog posts, do some accounting, be responsible for your own taxes, and more.  Understanding this, your own skill set and what to outsource is essential to making your business a success.

Picking up clients

So, my desk is not quite where I want it to be and that is because it needs to be in the spot with the best lighting. No ugly dressers lurking in the background or an untidy bedroom either. This is because your future client is most likely to conduct their interview via - gulp - video conferencing. Don’t fall for the dress code trick of business look on top while keeping it casual beneath the desk, as you never know when you might have to stand up unexpectedly and risk them seeing your holiday shorts! Keep it professional and be presentable at all times.

Before it gets to this stage though, you’ll need to connect with prospective clients, social media and local networking are great ways to do this.  You will need to position your company as part of the bigger brand to capture the benefits of SmartPA. 

It’s important to do some research on the company here, find out who the decision makers are, what the organisation’s values are and who else works there – you may have a connection that can open doors cold calling just can’t budge.

Your diary is run by deadlines, not days at the beach

The plus side to working for yourself is the fact that you can run your diary the way it suits you. You can decide which clients you work with, which services you offer, whether you do the work or share the experience with a fellow SmartPA partner. 

The biggest motivator to monitor your time and effort is deadlines.  One of the best ways to ensure deadlines don’t creep up on you is by working out a work schedule. Remember you create this work schedule to suit your lifestyle, which luckily means time to watch those soccer matches and ballet recitals, even if it does mean catching up in those fringe hours.

To outsiders, working for yourself may seem like an in-between job. However, the potential for great earnings and a flexible work schedule says otherwise.

Article adapted from Jane Lymes' original contribution.