Choosing a freelance career has a huge number of benefits for many self-employed people. The number of UK freelancers has grown 14% in the past decade, with approximately 1.4 million freelancers working across all UK sectors – so there’s clearly an allure to treading the freelance path and achieving a more flexible career.
But with the current threat of job losses and widespread economic recession in 2020 and beyond, why would you choose to take that freelance leap of faith right now?
The impact of the global pandemic on your career
2020 has been what you might call a nightmare of a year. We’ve experienced the threat of COVID-19, the unforeseen impact of a country-wide lockdown and the ongoing spectre of a massive economic recession to deal with over the coming months.
In short, it’s been a tough year so far – and there are definitely going to be further challenges ahead. But in an environment where reduced working hours, unexpected redundancies and sudden business failures are likely to become commonplace, there’s something to be said for being your own boss.
As a corporate employee, the future of your career (and by extension your livelihood and income) lies in the hands of your employer. If your current boss is faced with tough economic conditions, negative cashflow and mounting debt in the business, they’ll have no choice other than to make staff redundant. It’s a simple financial decision – if you can’t cover the payroll bill, you can’t continue employing the same workforce, and that means YOUR job could be on the line.
For freelancers, the situation is somewhat different. As a self-employed individual, you can never 100% guarantee a pipeline of stable work and a regular income from your clients. But when the going gets tough (as it may well do), you do have the ability to take control of your employment situation and do something proactive about it.
So, let’s take a look at 5 key reasons why being a freelancer is a good decision in 2020…
1. You’re the boss and in control of your own career
When you’re self-employed, you become your own boss. You’re the Chief Executive of Everything (CEE) in your self-contained, one-person business, and that includes being the Director of Human Resources. As such, unless you’re having a REALLY bad day, you’re not going to fire yourself from your own business.
As a freelancer, there’s no threat of redundancy hanging over your head. Yes, you may lose some clients along the way, but (as we’ll see in the next point), you’re never reliant on one solitary income stream, unlike your employed, salaried friends.
As the CEE, you’re in control of your entire operation, and that also means you’re in greater control of your employment prospects, your future career and your overall lifestyle.
2. You have multiple customers to support you financially
When it comes to customers, most sensible freelancers don’t put all their eggs in one basket.
It’s good practice to work with a number of different clients. When you spread your jobs, projects and working partnerships across multiple customers, this reduces the inherent risk. A salaried employee has only one source of income – their monthly salary. If this disappears due to redundancy, they’re in hot water.
Freelancers, however, generate their income from many different sources. If you’re working with ten different clients over the course of a month, the loss of one specific client will be a wrench, but it won’t reduce your income down to zero.
So, financially speaking, freelancing can be less risky in these challenging times.
3. The smarter you work, the more income you generate
For freelancers, there’s a direct link between the amount of clients you engage, the number of jobs you complete and the overall income you bring into your business.
In short, the more work you deliver, the more money you make – and that’s not something that’s reflected in most corporate remuneration packages. Yes, a salaried worker MAY get a bonus at the end of the year, but it’s still at the discretion of their boss. For freelancers, your remuneration is directly linked to your work rate – and that’s a highly attractive benefit of the self-employed lifestyle for many freelancers.
This doesn’t, of course, mean that you need to work yourself into the ground. Quite the reverse, in fact. By setting your revenue targets, pricing and utilisation correctly, you can earn a very decent living, while actually working less hours in a day – which leads us on to point 4….
4. You can build a better work/life balance
The key takeaway in my book, Going Freelance, is that the freelance lifestyle allows you to build work around your life – creating a highly flexible work/life balance.
Stepping away from the corporate life, the long commutes and the aspirational rat race frees up time. And time is a resource that’s precious to all of us. By working from home, or remotely from somewhere local, you lose the hours spent sitting on a train, or stuck in a traffic jam. With more hours available in your day, you can complete your daily workload and still have time available for exercise, sport, leisure activities or downtime with your family and friends.
As a freelancer, you’re no longer a slave to your career. You work when you need to, and you can take time off when you need to, and that flexibility is truly priceless.
5. With good relationships and planning, you can weather the storm
Having a wide customer base is a critical part of making your freelance business a success story. And building good relationships with your customers is vital to these partnerships.
You get out of a working relationship what you put in, so freelancers get very good at working their soft skills, communication capabilities and relationship management skills. The more your clients trust you, and the more they value the work/products you deliver, the more secure and stable your partnership will be – and solid relationships build stable sales and income.
With enough foresight, knowledge and planning – and the foundation stone of a valued customer base – there’s no reason why you can’t weather the 2020 storm and come out of this year unscathed. Opportunities may decrease, and money may get tight, but if you’re proactive, prepared and positive, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Going Freelance: Building Work Around Your Life
Learn more about starting a freelance career by taking my brand-new online course, ‘Going Freelance’.
‘Going Freelance’, is a 15-lesson course for new freelancers. It covers everything from creating your strategy, building a website and finding your first customers, through to managing your finances and achieving a better work/life balance.
If you’re considering the freelance lifestyle, or thinking about setting up your own side hustle, this is the ideal starting point.
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