reelancing is not for everybody. In the media, freelancing is often painted as an isolated way to work, since you’re technically a one-man ship doing all the light and heavy lifting yourself.
Despite this, introverts and extroverts have both found success in this vocation.
Whatever your social leaning in business or work is, being a freelancer presents a number of lessons we can all take advantage of.
With over 53 million self-employed people working in the US alone, it has been forecasted that the number of freelancers will grow to about 40% by the year 2020. That’s no modest figure because it means an increase of around 60 million people in total.
It’s no wonder why the industry’s growth is set to soar. As a result, today’s times have made it all the more convenient for people to utilize the present technology to suit their working needs and goals. Furthermore, many people realize that they want more than a life chained to their work desks. Add the fact that commuting takes up valuable time and energy.
Whether you’re on the fence about joining this evolving workforce or you’re a freelancer yourself, below are some crucial lessons everyone can benefit from.
1. “Empower yourself and realize the importance of contributing to the world by living your talent. ” – Catharina Bruns, Founder WorkIsNotaJob
In a world that puts a premium on connections and security, it can be hard for many to shift the direction of their careers to a, more or less, uncertain, solitary journey. People who are self-employed have shown that taking risks and believing in yourself pays, even if it’s often just you at the helm.
It takes a certain kind of fortitude to be able to do the hard work now when the results seem so far away.
When you’re sending pitch after pitch every day with no response or when you’re fine-tuning a product day in and day out with no end in sight, it can seem that everything you’re doing now is pointless.
While for those who are going at it alone, it will test everything you know about yourself as well as your physical, emotional, and mental resources. And for the better. Once you get over the initial hurdles and start to establish your own rhythm, you’ll then realize that you’re more capable than you thought.
Most of all, going for the self-employed route gives you all the opportunity possible to be yourself and pursue the things that resonate with you. A privilege that many don’t get to enjoy fully in the course of their working career.
Although freelancers may work alone or overexert themselves, they’re better for it and like what they’re doing.
Millions of other people around the world have made the jump and are also working hard to sustain their passion. Don’t let your “solo entrepreneur” status hold you back if you really believe in your ideas and ability to see your vision to fruition.
2. “Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, have confidence in your abilities and don’t let the bastards get you down.” – Michael Bloomberg, founder Bloomberg L.P.
I know a fellow freelancer who’s very much in touch with her inner power.
She was a stickler when it comes to people she works with. She doesn’t accept clients who complained a lot or demanded infinite rewrites and only works with clients who accommodates suggestions from her. A lot of people thought it was a cheeky move since many of them believed that customer is king or that customers are always right.
Not for her, though. She says she’s not a beggar so she can be a chooser.
I definitely agree with her. I think the whole point of working for yourself is to give yourself more control over your environment—who you work with, how you spend your time, and what rates you accept. There are far and few jobs out there that can afford such freedom, so if you have that privilege it definitely makes sense to exercise it.
Once you become a freelancer, your power lies in having a say in where you want to steer your professional life.
Your time and energy are limited, valuable resources. No matter how much money you have, if you don’t have the time and energy to spend it then what use are those?
Power in this context means being able to design your life as you see fit.
You have the sole capacity to set your career’s direction and to aim as high as you want. You can take risks and experiment with different things in your line of work. Because the only person you have to be accountable to is yourself. As long as you wear your mistakes proudly and learn from your experiences, you’ll realize that failure only serves to lead you a step closer to success.
And that, ladies and gents, is true power.
3. “Don’t limit yourself. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” – Mary Kay Ash, Founder Mary Kay Cosmetics
There are people out there who usually think that people who have achieved their goals are able to attain them because of luck. This might be true to a certain extent, but no one can rely on their luck forever.
The only way to be “lucky” is to make your own luck and open yourself up to the different opportunities life offers.
The key thing to remember is, you won’t attain success if you’re not equipped to get it. One way to be equipped is to expand your comfort zone and discover new skills you never thought you’re capable of. Being in this industry offers an extensive range of job opportunities. No one can box you in without your consent. If you want to pursue a wholly different type of work than your last one, the only person holding you back is you.
Expanding yourself is just one piece of the puzzle. More than just finding opportunities, there’s also no other industry out there that lends more ease into creating opportunities as well.
If you’ve already made it on your own as a freelancer or solopreneur and want to take things to the next level, then you can do so at your own pace. Your growth is solely dependent on you and you can scale according to your needs and capabilities.
Manning a one-man ship is a tall order but life is never meant to be a smooth-sailing ride. The best you can do is to face new challenges head on and learn from whatever mistakes it might come with. So don’t be afraid, explore all the possible opportunities you can and turn them into a life-changing advantage.
4. “You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.” – Steve Case, co-founder AOL
Focusing on what you can do puts the emphasis on how a problem can be solved. While focusing why you can’t do something is entertaining the negative emotions from the problem but doesn’t make the problem go away. According to this study, freelancers turn to the first approach more often than traditional employees.
For instance, you lost a big amount of money after a number of clients balked at potential projects with you, setting you back at least a few months worth of income. You then feel angry and frustrated to the point that you entertain the thought that maybe this is not something you can do.
This is an example of focusing on why you can’t. You might have made the first step, but you never addressed any lingering self-doubts you may have.
By focusing on why you can do something, you’re more apt to analyze the reason why you lost your clients and what you can do about it so it doesn’t happen again in the future.
The good thing about this approach is that it attempts to go directly to the root and solve the cause. Instead of wallowing in negative emotions that make you doubt yourself, take a break and assess any behavior that could’ve set the incident in place.
If the clients left because of something you did wrong, you can then come up with solutions that will prevent it from happening again.
Although everyone’s handles decisions differently, taking on a more proactive approach that prevents you from wallowing in regrets or defeatist notions is key to making it as an entrepreneur.
5. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs, Co-founder, CEO, Chairman Apple Inc.
The legendary Steve Jobs couldn’t have said it better. Employees today spend a minimum of eight hours at work, despite the fact that productivity levels are at all-time low.
According to Gallup’s study that surveyed 142 countries, only 13% of employees worldwide are psychologically committed to their jobs and 63% are not engaged.
This means that a majority of the current workforce feels disconnected with their jobs. I personally think it’s a sad fact because I don’t think life is meant to be lived so dispassionately. This reveals that many lack motivation in what they do for a living and just do it because they have to. The rest of 24% are more actively disengaged, meaning they’re unproductive and also unhappy with their job.
When you’re working toward a bigger personal goal you’ve always wanted, it can be much easier to feel more engaged with what you do. Being self-employed is one of the best avenues out there to make your personal dreams happen. Why? Because you’re the creator and the one in charge of steering your path to whichever way you feel best. A privilege that a 9 to 5 job may not always provide.
Any work that resonates with your values and overall aspirations in life helps you perform better. And when you perform better you churn out quality work that does wonders for your reputation and will naturally attract more clients along the way once you’re putting up your own business.
Are freelancers happier?
This study published in the Journal of Business Research stated that the self-employed people are happier than employees. People from 25 European countries took part in a survey that revealed the roles of creativity and autonomy play in job satisfaction levels.
It seems that the self-employed derive a certain sense of utility from their work, which may not always be present in regular employment.
Despite this, you don’t have to necessarily be a freelancer in order to find meaning and autonomy in your work. For some, all it takes is a little belief in your work and the ability to find aspects of it that you find enjoyable. Nonetheless, all of these lessons allow you to hone your adaptive instinct so you can keep moving ahead, whatever business or industry you’re in.
As I earlier said, not everyone fits the freelance lifestyle. Some like the benefits but are not willing to take the associated risks with it. That’s fine.
But if you know for yourself that you can handle the bad days and have ambitions of taking charge of your life then don’t let this chance slip by. It takes guts to be able to make the switch, but once you make it work, it’ll no doubt make you proud in yourself that you were able to face the uncertainties that many others can’t.
These are powerful skills to have which can help you achieve your goals no matter what they are.
Your future success is inextricably tied to the skills and perspectives you’ll be developing in your professional journey. So use these tips and join the ranks of thriving individuals who have found their life’s calling in freelancing.
What success tips can you share with other readers? Do you prefer being self-employed or being an employee?
Also published on Medium.