In early May I took the plunge – I left my full-time job at an agency to do something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time: become self-employed as a fully-fledged, full-time freelance consultant.
Now that it’s early August, it means that I’ve just hit the 3-month mark. My first observation is just how quickly the time has gone (blimey!) but I’ve also learnt a great deal already, which I felt inspired to put into writing.
So here are 3 things I’ve learnt in the first 3 months…
1) People love saying “yes” (but they may let you down)
Fortunately I already have quite a strong network of contacts in South Wales. In fact, the reason I made the leap when I did is simply because I had a fair few people asking me if I did freelance on the side (in addition to my full-time job), but I didn’t. I thought if only a few of those came off, I’d be set. But it was even fewer than I’d expected.
People love to chat. They love to say “yeah, let’s talk about how you can help with our SEO.” Some even say “we’ll definitely use you.” But do they? Nuh-uh.
Whether it’s down to being too polite or excited, being too busy afterwards or simply changing their minds, don’t take statements like that on-board as a done deal. I know that may sound obvious (and that I may sound naïve for even mentioning it), but if you have a sales conversion rate percentage in mind, lower it. Honestly. You’ll be surprised.
Disclaimer: anyone reading this who I’ve spoken to recently and thinks they fit into this bracket, it’s not a dig at you – it’s more of a dig at myself for so readily assuming that work comes off so easily.
2) Even a realistic financial forecast may not be the reality…
In my second week (mid-May), I took part in GO Wales’ Freelancer Academy, a 5-day course covering all things self-employment (here’s a case study of my experience). The last day saw us present our business/freelance ideas Dragons’ Den style, including giving financial forecast figures for the first year of trading.
I thought mine were pretty realistic. You get these head-in-the-cloud types who say “I plan to make a million pounds on Day 1,” but I realised that the first few months would be quiet work-wise (while I met with people and also sorted out things at my end, such as a logo and a website), so I anticipated and therefore forecast lower amounts.
Even so? Yep, you’ve guessed it… I didn’t hit my targets. Month 2 was great, but Months 1 & 3 were less busy than expected.
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. No one can predict the future (that’s why it’s called a forecast!) but even so, if I were to do it again, I’d make my conservative income figures even more conservative… if only by a little.
3) I’m 100x happier
Immediate disclaimer: this is not a dig at any of my former employers. I think I’m simply someone who is happier being self-employed rather than working for someone else, even if it were the best company to work for in the world.
Why? Because I grew up with it. My parents have run their own businesses from home since I was a lad in the single digits, so I saw it all first-hand over many years. I think that’s been a big influence on me.
My advice though? If you’re considering self-employment, just do it! I know it’s often easier said than done, but until you give it a go, you just don’t know…
…Now it’s your turn!
I’d love to know the experiences of anyone reading this who’s also self-employed. How were your first 3 months? Please share your stories in the comments below!
[Image credit: protographer23]