There’s nothing wrong with applying for a job and accepting the position when it’s offered to you. That’s the way that many of us work, after all. But sometimes you have to listen to that little voice in the back of your head that tells you that what you’re doing isn’t right for you anymore and that you should be following the dream you’ve had since childhood. Or maybe it’s a new dream or just the feeling that you should change industries. Whatever your reasons, if you find yourself sitting in your cubicle day after day and daydreaming about leaving your full-time job and starting a business, there are some things to consider. Check out this how-to guide on how to decide if you should go freelance or start your own company.
See Also: Top 10 Websites to Find Freelance Work
1. Be Honest About Who You Are
Are you an introvert who thrives on being alone and working in a quiet environment? Or are you more outgoing? Taking your personality into consideration (and making sure you’re honest about the personality you have, not the one you wish you had) can help you decide whether you’re better off freelancing or creating your own business which allows you to employ others.
2. Be Honest About How You Work Best
Do you find it difficult to focus in the midst of a busy, often chaotic office environment, or do you get completely bored by silence? If you want to work out of a home office, your dining room or even at your kitchen counter, then freelancing is definitely the way to go. If you need some outside stimulation and can’t work in a vacuum, then starting a business is the better option. You can hire a few people and work out of a shared office space if money is an issue, or you can lease an office.
3. Consider Your Working Style
Some of us would prefer to sleep late and work until midnight because we’re naturally night owls who thrive on late night spurts of inspiration. For those of us that work better when it’s dark outside, working 9-to-5 from Monday to Friday in a traditional office environment is more than a little difficult. Starting your own company means you’re your own boss so you could of course tell your employees that office hours are from noon until 8 p.m., though they may not be quite as keen as you are on burning the midnight oil. So, in that case, your best bet is to be self-employed and freelance, whether you’re a writer, a public relations representative, or a business consultant.
If you don’t have a problem with the 9-to-5 corporate lifestyle and dream of being a boss and calling all the shots, not to mention changing industries or doing something different, then starting a company is what you should do.
4. Can You Self-Motivate?
It’s a reality of the freelance lifestyle that you need to motivate yourself, every single moment, every single day. There’s no one else to light that fire in you. If you don’t think you can be quite that self-disciplined, then it’s better to realize that now than to waste time trying it out and realizing it’s not quite for you. If you start a business and hire employees, you can feed off each other, which will help you on those long, crazy days when you’re exhausted yet need to push through to get things done.
5. Understand Your Financial Reality
It takes money to make money, or so the old saying goes. This is definitely true when it comes to starting your own business, whether you’re going to just work for yourself out of a home office or if you’re essentially creating your own job because you’re creating a company.
But it definitely takes more funds to start a company because of all the start-up costs. You’ve got rent for an office space, salaries for employees depending on how many you need or want to hire, and a whole host of other costs like office supplies, equipment, and computers. You can, of course, apply for or take out a small business loan.
6. Consider Starting Small and Going Big Later
If you’re uncertain about which path is the right one for you to choose, why not start freelancing and consider expanding your business later on? Many people do this – for example, several food bloggers start out with a blog/website and then later open a store or café, or launch a product line, and hire several employees to help out.
7. Get Some Inspiration
Even if we’re self-employed, we never work completely alone, thanks to all of the outside influences out there from blogs to social media to the news. It’s easier than ever before to find people who do what we want to do and learn from their mistakes and motivating factors. Seek out the blogs and websites of people that you admire in an industry that you want to be in or read some motivational books or memoirs. If you find yourself nodding and smiling at their stories, it’s a good sign that you want to do that, but if you find yourself completely freaked out, you might want to consider a freelance life rather than taking a risk of starting a larger business.
It’s very important to know what you want to do, but it’s also just as important to know what you definitely don’t want to do. You want to make the right decision now, rather than later, to avoid poorly exerting the effort in terms of time and money.
8. Be Bold
Every entrepreneur starts with an idea, and it’s always a bold one. If you hate the idea of taking risks, hiring a graphic designer to set up a website and freelancing in your chosen field is the way to go. If you love thrills and excitement, and would regret not trying, then go ahead and get started with your company. We only live once, after all.
9. Listen to Your Gut, Not Anyone Else
The people in our lives – family, friends, and spouses – mean well, and they always want what’s best for us. But that doesn’t mean that this is their decision. People may not be completely on board with you wanting to leave a stable, secure full-time position in order to go out on your own. They may be just as worried about you becoming a freelance writer and working out of your apartment as you are about hiring people and starting a consulting business out of a shared office space. To them, it’s all new, and they’re scared of the unknown.
It’s important to do what you really feel in your heart and not listen to them. If you really want to start your own business, whatever it may be, why not just go for it? If you really want to write blog posts and articles on a niche topic that you’re passionate about and would love to work out of your home or at your local café, nothing’s really stopping you.
10. Be Prepared for Tough Times
There is almost nothing harder than starting a business, freelance or otherwise. You will face some lean times and it might even take between six months and an entire year to see a profit and success.
However, that isn’t such a bad thing because, while it may test your patience and frustrate you, it will teach you how to work harder than you ever thought you could before. The fact that you won’t succeed right away will actually motivate you more because you won’t be complacent and you will want to do all you can to ensure that your business does well.
You will also be able to redefine what the traditional notion of "success" means to you. It could mean making less than you would at your old job but having more free time and being happier, or it could be pushing yourself, managing several employees, and challenging yourself to lead meetings and create company-wide goals.
Considering whether to leave your full-time job (and all its health care benefits and stable salary) for self-employment is a scary thing. It will never be easy, even when you do find success, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. We spend so much of our lives working so we might as well find something that we really love doing. Consider this advice and figure out whether a freelance life or starting a larger company is in the cards for you. It’s time to find your passion and follow your career dreams for an entirely new working lifestyle.