Pro's and Con's of the life of a freelancer

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Are you thinking of starting your own business and work from home? Do you want to start working as a freelancer but are not quite sure yet? May be you have to start freelancing because of external circumstances? Or may be you are a new mom and have decided to work from home now?

There are so many reasons why people want to start working from home and as I have done it for many years now I thought I would share some pro's and con's with you.

I actually started working from home because I had to. I was always working for a big company and was very happy there. In 2007 my husband and I moved to America for his job. I quit my full time job and was suddenly completely free and without real plans. After I had explored our new home town, joined the gym, drank a lot of Starbucks coffee with my one and only friend there and learned how to iron really well while watching the whole series of “sex and the city”, I actually had to make a plan of what I want to do. I had to make a choice wether I wanted to start working full time for a company again or did I want to start my own business?

I grew up in a family where being your own boss was a big topic. My dad was self employed and my mum worked as a freelancer. So I kind of always wanted to start my own business at some point. However I never imagined it would happen like that and so sudden - and in America. Anyway after I took many classes in graphic and fashion design and eventually my friend and I opened our own company designing German inspired children's wear. Life took some more turns for me and now I am working alone as a freelancer for graphic and website design. But I will write more about that in my next blog post.

Today I want to list some pro's and con's of freelancing and working from home for you and hopefully it will make your decision of taking the leap into freelancing a little bit easier. Some points might seem very obvious but it is good to see them written down.

Pro's

You are your own boss

Let's face it all of us have been annoyed by a boss at some stage. And I know that there are some really good bosses out there. However I still assume the thought of how nice it would be to not have to get approvals for everything before doing something has crossed almost all of our minds at some stage. When you work for yourself, nobody will tell you anymore what to do and when to do it. You are completely free in your choices. But you are also responsible for yourself. For getting customers, for setting deadlines, for meeting them, for fulfilling the work and for getting paid... So you can actually not be annoyed with anybody but yourself anymore ;-)

You can work whenever and where ever

The ability of working not from home but while you are on holiday or from a cafe, from bed or on your sofa, in the morning or during the night. All that gives you a great amount of freedom. And it comes in very handy when you have children and can not commit to going to office 100% anymore.

Flexible work hours

You don't need to work from 9-5. You can actually decide when you are most alert and work best. Or you can just work in the mornings, like me, when the kids are in school and take the afternoons off. It is up to you how much and when you want to work. (As long as you are still making enough money). This is actually the main reason why I am self employed. I want to be able to go to all these concerts and performances at school without feeling bad that I had to take time of work. And I want to spend the afternoons with my kids and not feel guilty that I work part time whereas my co-workers are still in the office and don't really understand why I got to go home already. (They tend forget that they get paid more.)

You can prioritize yourself

You get to decide which project or task is most important and needs to be done first. You get to set you own schedule which is fantastic but also requires a lot of discipline.

You get to do what you love

Freelancing means you can concentrate on the things your are best in and love the most. In most office jobs there are always parts that people don't like but they are part of the job description. Being self employed means you get to do your own job description which is fantastic but can also be challenging. Also don't forget that there are things like book keeping or self promotion that you probably didn't need to do before and now you have to.

Variety

If you want you get to do a wider variety of things because you can choose which projects you take on or which products you want to add to your shop.

Cut out commute time

Depending on where you live you might have a big commute time to work and I hear so many people complaining about the hours they spend and waste in the car or in a train. Working from home saves you a lot of time which you can use for other things!

Con's

Distraction

I would say this is a huge dissadvantage. Working from home means there is so much distraction. The quick cup of tea, the postman that rings the bell and wants to deliver the package for the neighbor, the washing that needs to be done, the gym that is around the corner, the coffee mornings from the mums at nursery, the TV, and so on and so forth. The list is endless! And to be honest it took me a long time to become so disciplined that I don't get distracted anymore and just work during the hours I have decided are my work hours.

Lonely

Working alone and from home can be quite lonely and you will miss chatting to co-workers and seeing other faces than your own in the reflection of your computer. But it should also make you more focused.

Finding clients/customers

Now you are really responsible for everything! Finding clients and then keeping them on board is a huge task and of course the most important one. So when I said you get to do what you want and what you are best at, it was not completely true. Because you might be a very good designer or writer or painter but if you don't have any clients your business can not survive. So you also need to become good at promoting yourself and your business and I really know how hard that can be for many people!

Payment

Getting paid and getting paid on time can also be a tricky part. If you are not selling a physical product that people pay for immediately but you are providing a services and have to write an invoice and make sure people pay it, it can be really hard to actually get paid and on time. And you will spend a lot of time, writing and sending invoices as well as tracking payment.

Taking a break/holiday

If you are working for yourself and you don't have a husband or children that tell you to stop in the evening or on the weekend or even during a holiday, it can be so hard to stop when you are in the middle of something. I know that feeling. However that is also part of being flexible and on the other hand you can take more time off and are more flexible than people working for a company.

Lack of security

The decision of working for yourself is actually a major step. It has a huge impact on your financials and securities – depending on the country you live in. So do your research on legal issues, accounting and insurances as well before you decide to start your own business.

People don't take you serious

And last but not least, there will always be people who don't take you seriously. So many people still have the assumption that working means going to an office and if you work from home it is more a hobby. For sure there is always time to quickly have a cup of coffee with your friend or run some errands for your husband because he can't, and so on.

So to sum it up freelancing and working from home gives you great freedom and flexibility! But it also takes a lot of self discipline and staying focused. And it has personal and financial implications which you really need to consider well before starting!

However I have not regretted it and I know so many wonderful freelancer and self employed people that are very happy with their decision to go that path.

Have a great week everyone and good luck with making a decision of taking the leap in self employment!

Emilia


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