Running a freelance business

So, you have decided to start freelancing? I am really happy for you! It is a
great choice, one of the best work related decisions I’ve made in my life. You
maybe have some clients, maybe you just got laid off, and want to try this
cool and fun freelancing life everyone seems to talk about. There surely isn’t
much about it, you have a client, you work for some amount of time for that
client, and get paid for the work. And you will be doing only the things you
love, none of that crap on that ancient architecture your last boss was making
you do. And you will work for whoever you want, because you are the boss
now
.

Yes, you have read that well, you are the boss now, and the CEO, and the
CFO, and every other department that existed in the regular job you used to
work. You also get to be the cleaner, and the system administrator.

How will you ever learn all of that, or even know everything there is to be
done? The easiest way is to find someone in the same business you want to get
into and ask them. Most people will gladly help, because they don’t mind
helping out someone in need. Some of them, well, won’t help you, maybe even
undermine you or your work, but, c’est la vie, some people are just assholes
and you have to get over it. The sooner you grow a thicker skin, the better
for you. So when you find out everything there is, and that depends from
country to country so I won’t get into details about what needs to be done
here, you have to figure out how to do it. Let’s get to that now.

You can, and should outsource a lot of that work, let the people better than
you do their jobs and pay them for your own piece of mind. Accounting, legal,
even assistant work can be outsourced to other people, freelancers or
companies. They are professionals, like you are in your field, and should be
on the edge of their domain, so you don’t have to. For example, I know very
little about the process of accounting, I could if I wanted to, as could
almost every one of us, but we don’t, because we have other stuff to think
about, learn about, and to run our now business. Or law, which I know nothing
about, but I’m sure a lawyer knows everything, or can refer me to the one that
does.

So, when you have outsourced everything that someone else can do instead of
you, there is still some work for you to do. Finding clients, marketing,
scheduling, IT work, being the CEO and the secretary at once, and taking care
of yourself, as you are now your company’s best asset. I’ll get to those in my
next couple of posts, because I don’t want you to fall asleep reading.

Working Remote

You are surely tired of your commute, every day, waking up way before it’s convenient for you, cramming in public traffic, with people around you, wasting your precious time day after day. I had a 10 minute walk to the last place I worked at before going freelance, and it was nice, the commute before that was 45 minutes each way. But even that, being tied to one place, for 8 hours each day, at a fixed time is nauseating. There is a solution: Remote Working.

As you are aware, many companies today offer the option for you to work remotely full-time. As a freelance consultant, this is probably the most common way to work. Now, by saying remote, I don’t mean only and always working from your home, but working from a place that is not your main office, that can be a lot of places. Some people prefer coffee shops, some like me, really love to work from home, some go to a co-working space, whatever floats your boat.

So here are some benefits that you will see immediately or after some time, and pitfalls that you can meet in your remote working life if you don’t take care of yourself.

Benefits

  • Less time commuting == More time spent with your family
  • No commuting expenses
  • Ability to choose the best time of day when you are most productive
  • Less stress and interruptions
  • Less meetings
  • Your written communication levels rise to the roof
  • You learn how to work better

Pitfalls

  • Not being able to separate work from private life
  • Isolation from other people can affect your mental health in a bad way
  • Letting yourself go physically

Jason and David are far better writers than me, so if you
want to really learn about remote work, and everything it carries with, go and read great book on this subject Remote: Office Not Required by the guys from Basecamp.

Why would you want to become a freelancer?

So what are your top reasons you want to become a freelancer? Feel free to
leave them in the comments section below. I will briefly give you my reasons
for doing it over the next couple of posts.

Be your own boss

The main reason everyone quotes is being fed up with the management at their
current place of work. That may be due to a lot of reasons. For example: Stuck
on boring projects; Can’t work from home sometimes; Don’t have a flexible schedule;
You can’t implement the new and hip technology you read about last week, because
you are stuck doing a VB6 project; And this list goes on and on…

The good parts

Being your own boss can improve that situation a lot, you get to choose the
projects to work on, the clients to work with and the technologies to
implement those projects to some extent. You get to choose when you work, and
where you work from.

The bad parts(not really)

You are your own boss, you are the one to set the working schedule, organize yourself, and
be proactive with work. There is no Boss telling you what you are going to
work on next. Also you will find that you have to work on some other
issues, as you have to run a company right now, a one man company of yourself,
you are your own boss right now, and manager, HR, and marketing. Each client is a kind of
a boss, as you are responsible to them for the work you are contracted to do.

The cure

Hire an accountant, and outsource as much stuff as you can. Time you spend on
learning your skill, they spend on learning their skills. Don’t do everything
by yourself, and remember, always be polite.

Flexible working hours/location

This is also a classic. All the freelancers out there seem to work whenever
they want, wherever they want.

The good parts

You work whenever/wherever you want, you can travel around the country, or
even abroad, and your work won’t suffer, your clients may not even notice that
you are 5000 km away from the place they think you are. But it really doesn’t
matter. Work happens where it happens for you, and it’s in your and your
clients’ best interest to be as productive as you can for them, and for
yourself, of course.

The bad parts

You can work the whole day, there is always something to be done. First you
forget lunch, then you forget your kids big game or play at school, as you
have so much work to do. If you don’t plan your time you will loose your
health/family and everything.

The cure

Make a schedule and stick to it. Being constrained to work 5 or 6 hours each day
makes you the most productive machine there is, because you haven’t got more
time, just those 6 hours each day, so about 30 hours a week.

This is it for this post, I will continue writing on this subject and the
tools to help you while freelancing or being a remote worker.