In order to make your freelance business work, you’ll need to put in time, money, and energy.
Starting a business today may be easier than ever, but it still takes resources to make it viable. Freelance businesses are no different, but at least they aren’t as resource-intensive as some of the more classical types.
But before you get too deep into freelancing, you need to think about what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to make your business work. I’ve talked to dozens of freelancers and wanna-be-freelancers over the years. The thing that separates the real deals from the wannabes?
The determination to give up things and activities in the short-term to make their business a success.
When I first got started with freelancing I actually made a bet with my wife. I bet that I could take $800 from the sale of my car and over two months double that money in revenue.
Making $1,600 over two months isn’t that big of a goal. That’s easily 160 billable hours so all I’d need would be to find a project or two that would pay me more than $10/hour.
If I won the bet, we agreed that I could continue freelancing for a few more months and I wouldn’t have to go job hunting. Since I didn’t particularly relish the idea of interviewing, I dove in.
My first few contracts were pretty shaky. I made one of the most common mistakes beginner freelancers make, but that’s the subject for another time.
The important thing here is that in order to win the bet I had to sacrifice a lot of things:
- We stopped eating out and started buying cheaper food in order to keep our personal expenses low.
- I decided to forgo a computer upgrade and made do with an old desktop I’ve cobbled together from spare parts.
- I skipped all of the normal “starting a business” stuff you read about, like naming your company, printing business cards, etc. I didn’t even register my business with my city until months later.
And the biggest of all:
- I put in full-time hours of work for weeks without seeing any real results.
Even though I only needed to make $10/hour for 160 hours, landing a contract that would even come close to that was difficult. I picked up a few tasks from my previous employer but they weren’t anything I could count on.
So here I was. Sacrificing my time and our shrinking savings account. Trying to make my freelance business work.
It wasn’t until I read two books that things really clicked and started to take off.
P.S. If you haven’t decided if you want to freelance yet and you have a job now, really consider doing it part-time at first. It’s hard work to balance the time, but you can focus on learning how to run the business. This experience will be invaluable later on.
Or, you can jump right in like I did. It was a crazy period but it turned out to be the right thing. I just wish we could have done it with less stress.