The move from a 9-5 job to entrepreneurship is described by some as taking a step.
The more accurate description should be taking a leap. It’s pretty scary taking this leap; no wonder most people avoid executing their ideas.
Thankfully, a bridge has been established between a 9-5 job and a business venture.
This bridge is freelancing.
I’ve been a freelance writer for close to 3 years, and I can definitely say that my experience is beneficial to my entrepreneurial journey. Though I’ve never held down a 9-5 job, I’ve seen firsthand how freelancing can help ease the move to entrepreneurship.
So if you’re gathering the courage to leave a secure job for a life of freedom and uncertainty, this post is for you.
Entrepreneurship vs Freelancing?
The self-employed banner is pretty wide. You can be a freelancer, business owner, or entrepreneur. More often than not, people under this banner misidentify themselves.
You’ll find a freelance graphic designer calling themselves an entrepreneur even though they fall under the ‘freelancer’ umbrella.
So what’s the difference? How do you know whether you have graduated to the level of entrepreneur?
Let’s start with freelancers. Freelancers trade their skills, services, and time to customers for money. So if you’re good at writing, you’ll write articles for money. If you’re great at setting up websites, then you can work as a freelance web designer.
While freelancing offers the same freedom and flexibility as entrepreneurship, it is quite restrictive. You can only scale your freelancing efforts to a certain point, as there are only 24 hours in a day.
There are only a certain number of articles that you can write each day, a certain number of websites that you can brand on a daily basis, and only a certain amount of code you can write before you get exhausted.
Entrepreneurship is next level shit. As an entrepreneur, your job is to build a business that can generate passive income. This means that you can make money sleeping, exercising, and vacationing.
Your time is spent identifying customers needs, finding opportunities in the market, examining the risk involved, and creating innovative products and services that meet these needs. Your time is spent creating scalable systems where products and services are sold over and over again.
Should You Freelance Before Starting Your Own Venture?
The choice is yours; you can jump into the deep end of entrepreneurship feet first, or you can start at the shallow end known as freelancing and then swim toward entrepreneurship at your own pace.
Before you make your decision, here are some points that you should consider:
1. Many people avoid entrepreneurship because they lack courage and confidence. How many times have these thoughts and questions crossed your mind?
‘I’m not equipped for the job’, ‘will people appreciate my products and services?’, ‘is my business model right for this market?’, ‘I’m out of my depth.’
Freelancing gives you the confidence that you need to start your own business. If you want to launch a tax services firm and you’ve spent the last 4 years doing taxes as a freelancer, then you won’t doubt your abilities.
2. There is a high rate of failure among startups, and you don’t want to be kicked out on the street because your business failed and you don’t have a job to fall back on. Freelancing gives you financial security, as it allows you to make enough money to support yourself and your family.
At the same time, you are able to raise the funds that you need to test your products and services, hire employees for your business, and eventually launch your venture.
3. As a freelancer, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with people from a wide range of industries. I’m therefore in the position to build a network which I can rely on when I move towards entrepreneurship.
You have the chance to market your products and services to your network in the same way you marketed your skills. You also have the chance to work together with people you met while freelancing.
Be strategic when building your network, and build a community that will support your business efforts once you decide to move in that direction.
4. As a freelancer, you will be in direct communication with clients. You will deal with happy clients, frustrated clients, angry clients, indecisive clients, and clients that cannot be satisfied. You cannot pass these clients on to your superior, and you cannot push them towards the wide-eyed intern.
These interactions will be beneficial when you become an entrepreneur.
5. If you want to launch a business in the web design niche but you’re a freelance copywriter; don’t worry. Freelancing in areas outside of your desired niche helps you build a diverse skill set.
When it’s time for you to launch your web design business, you’ll have the ability to write killer copy that can draw people to your venture.
6. Self-discipline is crucial to success.
Freelancing gives you full control of your schedule, and it is your job to prioritize your time and work even when you’re not in the mood. This self-discipline is what makes an entrepreneur succeed, and if you’ve developed it as a freelancer you will be at a huge advantage.
7. Freelancing also helps you establish a good work-life balance, and this makes you happier, focused, more energetic, and more creative. You can use this new found freedom to research, plan, and build your venture.
8. As a freelancer, you are fully and solely responsible for your work. This builds responsibility and accountability, which are vital traits in an entrepreneur.
Baring responsibilities such as work deadlines, delivery, time management, and finances will eventually become a no-brainer, and you won’t be overwhelmed by the pressure that comes with being an entrepreneur.
9. If you’re freelancing in your desired niche, then you’re in the unique position to immerse yourself in the niche.
So if you’re freelancing as an interior designer, learn everything there is to learn about interior design, and look for gaps in the market which you can turn into a business venture.
10. There have been many entrepreneurs who started a business in a particular niche, and then found out that they weren’t really passionate about it. If you freelance in a certain niche before you create a business, you can determine whether you are truly happy and passionate about your idea.
This prevents you from wasting your time, money, and effort.
How to Figure Out What Freelance Niche You Should Go With
Finding your freelance niche is similar to finding your business niche:
1. Write down your skills in order from most proficient ability to amateur ability2. Eliminate the skills that you are
2. Eliminate the skills that you are least passionate about
3. Check out a couple of online freelance marketplaces (e.g. Upwork, Frelancer) and use them to determine if there’s a market for your skill set
4. If there is, go to step 5, if there isn’t, select a second skill or attempt to market your unique skill
5. Narrow down the focus of your skill as this allows you to be more efficient. Instead of marketing yourself as a freelance writer, specify what type of writing you do; copy writing, e-books, editing, business writing, ghost writing, technical writing, curriculum writing e.t.c
6. Pay attention to what’s going on in your niche. Stay on top of trends, talk to other freelancers, and read anything that will help refine your skill
7. Establish an online brand and market your specific skill; you can start in a marketplace, or create your own website
8. As you get better and get more job offers, raise your hourly wage/per project wage
I must warn you; if you become a freelancer before you become an entrepreneur, you might end up sticking to freelancing as a career. It’s lucrative and flexible, and it allows you to work in a job that you are passionate about.
However, if you decide that freelancing is just a stepping stone to entrepreneurship, ensure that you spend your time as a freelancer building up your skills and experience. Entrepreneurship is not an overnight process, but with freelancing on your side you will excel faster than others who are trying to build a foundation.
If you found this helpful, remember to share it with your friends and colleagues. Also drop me a comment letting me know if you’ve ever freelanced or considered freelance, and what your experience has been so far.
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I hope you have a great week, and I’ll see you here next Monday!