It's become almost laughable; the amount of times someone has approached me and said: "Man, I wish I had the nerve to go freelance like you". Personally, I've never understood exactly what's stopping them.
Do you spend your days staring out the office window, dreaming of handing in your resignation letter, but never doing it? If you're unsure of just when and how to make the leap into the unpredictable world of freelance, I'm here to provide some measured reassurance that it is entirely possible for you to do so.
Here are the top five reasons people give for not striking out on their own - and why I think they're nonsense.
01. You need savings to get started
"I've got bills to pay. It's going to take some time before I get my first commissions. And even then, it'll probably be a long time before the first cheques arrive." In other words, you're going to have to go without money for a long time - and you haven't got the reserve funds you need.
But it doesn't have to be like this. Getting started is largely a case of preparing well. Before you leave your job, there's nothing to stop you working in the evening and weekends, building a portfolio you're proud of, trying to reach some of your first clients and sacrificing your own time to help build your business before you leave your job.
This is how a great deal of freelancers start out and it's a great way to test the waters. Yes, this transitional time can be tough, but put the work and effort in and you'll find paying those bills won't be such a problem. Also read our tips on how to get more freelance work (opens in new tab) and how not to go bust (opens in new tab).
02. Freelancing is less secure than a job
Job security is a myth. There, I said it. No job is ever completely secure and once you realise this, it makes the transition a lot easier.
Freelancing can be unpredictable, sure. But the feeling of being in charge of the money you make each month can be very liberating and inspirational.
Yes, you will have to work extremely hard each month, especially in the beginning, both doing the actual work itself and taking care of the finances, invoicing and promotion. But remember that when you are employed by a company you still have to work hard to keep your job - no job is completely safe.
03. Taxes and accounting are a nightmare
Yes, you will have to be more organised with your finances when you go freelance. But you don't exactly need an accounting degree - it's mainly common sense.
There are plenty of resources available to help on the web, too. Here's a list of tools to help you invoice (opens in new tab) and these days most tax authorities have pretty easy-to-follow online tools to help you file; for those in the UK, HMRC's website (opens in new tab) is very easy to use.
Also follow these tips on freelance money management (opens in new tab).
04. You're not good enough
If you're good enough to keep down a full-time job, what makes you think you're not good enough to freelance?
Yes, we can all improve on our skills, and learn new ones - but that's always going to be the case. Rather than worrying whether your skills are good enough, it's better to think carefully about where the demand for them lies, and how you can reach those clients. You need to ask yourself questions like: "Who am I targeting with my services?" and "Do my services offer value?".
If you don't know the answers to these questions then yes, maybe you need stick with your job a while longer, practice and gain some experience working with more clients. But remember, there's no rule saying you have to have a particular level of experience or skill to freelance - after all, many people start out freelance - so don't use it as an excuse not to take the plunge.
05. You'll have no life
It's true that when you're your own boss, you have to do everything yourself - the work, dealing with clients, doing the finances, promoting your brand. And yes, it can be difficult and frustrating and can take up a lot of your time. And yes, if you don't think you have the passion for the work, or work ethic, required to be successful, then perhaps this isn't the career path for you.
However, if you love the idea of doing what you love for a living, being in charge of yourself, and building a business from the ground up, then the rewards can be incredible. Because once you've established yourself then you'll be free to pick the clients you want; work where you want (opens in new tab) and, within reason choose the hours that suit you.
So far from having no life, you'll be able to have exactly the kind of life that you want - with no boss standing over you and making you jump to their tune.