Q: I am a professional considering a change. I’ve been employed most of my career and I have done quite well. I would like to have a bit more control and freedom over what I do. So, I am exploring the option of working freelance or as part of the gig economy. It does scare me a bit, so I would like to understand a bit more about this area before making a decision (BC, email).
A: It is a scary thought going solo, and it is not for everyone. But it is not new, the gig economy has been going for some time and is growing at a fast pace, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
We are moving into a more fluid way of working. It is okay to do different jobs and work for a few companies at the same time. The pandemic has indeed accelerated this process. It has also affected the rigidity of the traditional 9-5 practice with a more flexible approach for employees and freelancers.
But yes, having the safety and security of a company around you is hard to let go. And many entrepreneurs and freelancers often miss that salary that they know is coming at the end of the month.
So, what to do? In order to decide if this is for you, I would advise you not to leave your job. Explore your freelancing options first. For risk-averse personalities this model helps.
This first step is to explore and research your sector or industry. Keeping an open mind is important here to be able to understand opportunities as well as challenges. See who is doing it successfully and connect with them. Ask questions, most people won’t mind giving you a bit of advice. This exercise will help you to assess your risk.
Something important to consider when you start to work for yourself is that you will be a business owner, also known now as a micro-entrepreneur. This is not for everyone; the gig economy requires more skills than just doing your job.
You need to make sure that a constant flow of work is coming your way, or you won’t succeed. Designing business, marketing and sales plans are examples of tasks an entrepreneur must be able to do.
Finally, I would like to list three requirements I believe are critical to your success.
First, you need to have an absolute passion for what you do. Especially at the start, working for yourself can be very challenging. Your passion will take you through those tricky moments when you don’t know if it’s ever going to work.
Second, you need to be good at what you do, and really understand your niche. This sounds obvious but it is worth stating nonetheless. You may have feedback from your employer or past clients. Review that feedback in detail. In which area do you excel? How can you market yourself as an expert?
Third, there is a demand in the market for the services you provide. Here we need to look at the sector as a whole. Identifying your exact customer or ‘customer persona’ and what they want is crucial. Looking at the competition, and big players in the market, will also help identify where you and your skill fit.
Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.
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