If you’ve got your freelancing career established and are making good money working on your own terms and handpicking your clients, you’ve hit the sweet spot right there. That’s what every freelancer dreams of – well paying clients, steady gigs, flexible timings and the freedom to work out of your treehouse.
However, the sweet spot is seldom a final destination. It’s more of an in-between. Now that you have your freelance life sorted, maybe you’re looking for a shot at the beckoning world of entrepreneurship. Yes, the famed prospect of making money while you sleep as opposed to trading hours for dollars is a tempting one. Freelancing can become very rewarding if you are able to demand the right prices for your work. However, it will still let you earn only as much as you can work. As an entrepreneur, you get to build a sustainable business where if you recruit well and run a tight ship, you can multiply your earnings many fold, and more importantly, build something to be proud of. Several successful freelancers made successful crossovers to entrepreneurial success, including people like Cyan and Collis Ta’eed of Envato, Brian Wong of Kiip and others.
So all that sounds fantastic, right? Well it is indeed. But remember, it’s no mean feat. Entrepreneurship isn’t the next logical progression from freelancing. It is a significant shift from your current freelancing lifestyle and requires a slightly different set of skills. If you intend to make the shift, it will certainly be worth it. But you must be aware of the few things you’ll need to do differently from your current freelancing career. Knowing these will help you set the right goals and expectations, and make the move a rewarding one.
1. You’ll be Responsible for Others Now
When you are a freelancer, you have to think about your finances, and that is a huge responsibility. As an entrepreneur though, it gets even bigger, as you now have a team that needs you to keep the business running and their paychecks coming. It’s no longer about laying low for a while if a client dropped, as things will come back up soon. A client dropping now could mean paying the employees out of your pocket.
Entrepreneurship brings with it a great deal of accountability, which Forbes says is the secret of an entrepreneurs success, and this will take some time getting adapted to, coming from a freelancing background. While as a freelancer you are only responsible for your actions and the consequences only affect you, an entrepreneur has an entire team to take care of.
2. Entrepreneurship Is an Investment and the Rewards May Not Be Immediate
You cannot guarantee a profitable bottomline from the get go. In the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you might not see the money coming in. Giving your best attention to your venture will require you to cut back or even completely forgo your freelancing work. This could mean that you won’t even have enough backup and might end up spending out of pocket. You may have to forgo your salary some months and whatever profit you do begin to make, you might just end up reinvesting it in the business instead of spending it on yourself. The point is, you might face a significant cash crunch for a while. However, hang in there as it will still be worth it once things fall into place and the cashflow becomes positive.
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3. You’ll be Marketing and Networking Differently
Freelancers do their share of marketing and networking no doubt. Just think of it as doubling all that hard work once you become an entrepreneur. The kind of people you do this with will be significantly different. As a freelancer, you network with clients and prospects, whereas as an entrepreneur, you’ll have to network with business heads and thought leaders in your industry. You need to seek out people who will see potential in your product and become customers. These are people who are looking to buy your product and not just hire you for a gig. Clients who hire you are hoping to make money from your work whereas customers who invest in your product want to make their lives better. Your ways of communicating with these customers, how you promote yourself as a brand and how you showcase your product will be significantly different from how you pitched your freelance services.
4. You’ll find it was Easier When the Deadlines Were Set For You
Freelancers know a good deal about deadlines – they live by them. However, life between these deadlines can still be pretty flexible in freelancing. Most clients will give you a date by which they need a deliverable, allowing you to take your own course as long as you get it done by the appointed deadline.
As an entrepreneur however, you’ll be the one responsible for deciding what needs to be done, managing how it will be done and setting the deadlines on when it will be done. You’ll have many projects running at the same time and it’ll be up to you to take important decisions about those projects.
5. You Might Not Be Able To Just Take a Day Off
That’s right, you may not be able to just break away for a day and resume everything the next day. Building a business is an evolutionary process and you need to put a piece of your soul into it every single day. If your customers need you, you’ll need to be there. If you can’t be available, the customers will simply take their business elsewhere. So until your entire team is set up to run like a well oiled machine and your co-founders, partners and other members are firmly in place, you might not get any vacay time. But again, if you just hang in there, you will be able to bake away on a beach once the business is smooth sailing. Entrepreneurs need their day off, and you will get yours, once you’ve done the groundwork well.
But It Will Still Be Worth It in the End
That’s definitely the concluding note here. The purpose of this post was to prepare you for a demanding yet exciting journey into entrepreneurship. Having made all the aforementioned adjustments and sacrifices, you will in the end have more than some money in the bank. You’ll have a company that you created and control. You’ll have total ownership of your time and the decisions you make. Most importantly of all, you will slowly but surely build a business that generates revenue consistently and easily outpaces the best freelancers in your industry. So are you ready for the leap?