Guest Blog, Written by Michelle Clement
Have you ever felt like you are giving your boss all your best ideas, making them look good with little reward for yourself? Or worse, not being allowed the tools or support to see these ideas through to their full potential.
This can become frustrating, and this was the very reason that after leaving 12 years of full-time employment both in and out of the city, I decided to go freelance and try out my ideas on my own clients.
As much of an exciting a journey this was to embark on, there were many pros and cons of being self-employed and going freelance that I hadn’t realised.
Here is what I learnt…
Pro: Flexibility of working hours after going freelance
Do your best ideas come later in the day or evening? Then this will be a pro for you too.
Freelancing allows you to set your own working hours, meaning you are not tied to your desk when you are at your least productive. This is something I quickly learnt when I first became self-employed.
You can miss the crowds by travelling outside of rush hour or secure an appointment at what would normally be an inconvenient time.
It also helps if you need to take a little time off for an appointment or a short holiday. You can usually work longer days around this time to make up for these few extra hours as, after all, if you do not work, you do not get paid.
Which brings me onto my first con…
Con: No holiday or sick pay
This is one thing I missed dearly when I left full-time employment. To take the 20 days holiday that I was previously allocated, I would need to take most of it as unpaid days.
Until I reminded myself…
Pro: Set your own fee
Now, I don’t mean that you can charge extortionate prices for your services, but freelancing day rates are usually higher than the equivalent salary. Depending on how much higher the rate is you charge, you can often cover the lost holiday and sick pay, and then some.
Know your sector and do not out price yourself, else you will be getting very little work at all!
Con: Others will think you are always around
Those in full time, location-based employment will not understand that working from home is still work. You will do the same number of hours, if not more. It doesn’t mean you have lots of free time, nor that you are not busy!
Get used to people initially making this presumption. They are probably just jealous of you having more flexibility. (with a little wink 😉)
Con: It can feel extremely lonely
Do you hate going into meeting to discuss projects every week?
And that annoying colleague popping over for a chat every hour, disrupting your workflow?
Sometimes you need someone to bounce new ideas off, to sense check that your idea is as good as you think it is. Sometimes you just need someone to speak to other than your cat or dog.
Freelancing can be incredibly isolating, especially if you are working from home. This is the very reason co-working spaces are opening on every corner. They give you a chance to meet new people and maybe even find a new client.
Another option that I enjoy is spending time working from a client’s office. Not only does it mean you get to interact with other humans, you can immerse yourself in their business, which will keep them happy too.
Pro: You call the shots
Your client has probably hired you based on your skills, experience and ideas. Now is your time to shine. You finally get to take on a project and run it how you would like to. Other than the client, you will no longer need to handle the project in the same, micromanaging way you may have been used to previously, which is much more exciting and engaging.
Con: Irregular pay
When you are used to a set amount of money hitting your account each month, becoming a freelancer can take some getting used to. Not everyone will pay your invoice on time, and you may go through low working periods now and then.
On the upside, as mentioned already, freelance hourly rates are usually higher than they would have been previously, so it is recommended to save as much as you can to cover these low periods, plus holiday or sick days.
Con: Your first self-assessment will likely be higher than you expected
This is one thing that I have heard many freelancers and contractors wish they had of known in advance. Your first tax return, or self-assessment, requires you to not only pay the government the tax on your first year of earnings, but also a 50% advance on the following year. An estimate based on your first year’s earnings.
If you aren’t savvy with income and taxes, this could come as a surprise, with you needing to find more money than you had planned for! If your first self-assessment is lower than you had planned for, well, that is just a bonus!
Pro: You can be selective with who you work with
We have all had a nightmare colleague or boss at some point in our careers, one which you can do absolutely nothing about.
As a freelancer or contractor, you get to pick if you want to work with any particular client or supplier or not. If something isn’t working out, you can call it quits.
There is also a con in this point, the client can do the same to you! So, please keep this in mind financially.
Becoming self-employed may not suit everyone’s lifestyles and needs, but gives you a lot more freedom to be creative and flexible