The worst thing about becoming a solopreneur (but why should you still do it!)
A taste of freedom is an exhilarating thing. It brings a sense of wonder and clarity, and a peek into a world beyond what you know.
Most people used to the fixed routine of the office have experienced that heady sense of freedom in the Covid lockdowns, when working from home brought greater flexibility, more trust, a focus on output rather than input, and a significant time saving by not commuting.
Many of the most talented and innovative have realised they can earn more money, enjoy a greater variety of work and have a happier lifestyle by becoming freelancers. If you are one of those who are planning to quit their full-time employment for the greener pasters of freelancing, it would be wise to err on the side of caution. Because, like most things, the pros of freelancing are often accompanied by the cons.
This article talks about the 5 challenges that might deter you from going solo (and why you should still do it!)
1. The constant back and forth to get your dues from clients
The classic freelancer struggle: Clients have agreed to your fees, you have decided how you’ll charge it (hourly, daily, monthly, or as a fixed payment based on the value of the project to the client), but unfortunately, it turns out that the client doesn’t pay on time, or worse, doesn’t pay at all. Whether clients neglect payments due to their own disorganisation or a lack of financial resources, chasing behind them for payments can become one of your worst nightmares as a freelancer.
While this fear might seem crippling to someone accustomed to the security of a monthly paycheck, there is a solution to help avoid such a circumstance.
As a freelancer, you always have the option to charge in advance, either in part or whole.
Another way to handle clients who need to be chased multiple times is by using automated accounting softwares. These cloud-based systems send out payment reminders to clients based on timelines you set up in advance. Most emails are also enabled with payment receiving mechanisms like links to online payment portals. Makes collecting your fees a breeze.
A better alternative would be to partner with clients through on-demand freelance platforms like Outsized that guarantee fair and timely payments every time, so you can give a 100% to your job without worrying about the cash flows.
2. The ever-nagging “scope creep”
As a freelancer, it’s not uncommon to come across client requests asking for things beyond the predetermined agreement. Whether it’s a quick edit or a labour-intensive addition, scope creep occurs when clients expect you to do more for the same budget. Sooner than later, a minor deviation can quickly build up into a project laden with scope creeps, and you may find yourself doing far more than what you agreed for initially. This will definitely impact your timelines (think other projects that you have in the pipeline) and your overall morale.
To prevent this, it’s critical to run an in-depth scoping workshop with the client so that there are no awkward scope creeps in the project execution phase.
What constitutes an excellent scoping outline and agreement?
- Content – context, background, budget, desired timelines, involved stakeholders, relevant market trends, case studies, skills and expertise needed to complete the project, deliverables, etc.
- Characteristics – clear and concise terms, crisp language, answers to the pertinent “what, when, why,” achieves consensus from all relevant stakeholders, co-authored and co-signed by the client, etc.
Read more: The importance of scoping projects correctly
3. Lack of access to relevant stakeholders
As a general yet misguided perception, freelancers are considered “outsiders” in the client’s office and are often not provided access to relevant stakeholders.
The term “stakeholders” encompasses all individuals and departments that have influence and involvement in the freelancer’s project. The idea is for freelancers to better understand the links between all stakeholders to manage expectations with business executives, demonstrate progress, and communicate unexpected issues in achieving milestones. Poor stakeholder management may result in gaps in knowledge and information, a lack of confidence in the freelancers’ capabilities, and reduced engagement and interest in the project.
It is vital to select clients with care and discuss stakeholders in the project scoping phase.
Our simplified three-step plan, consisting of the following stages, can help you develop the art of influencing and managing stakeholders right –
- Network mapping
- Stakeholder segmentation
- Stakeholder management plan
Learn more: The art of managing and influencing stakeholders
4. And then there is the constant stress of landing your next client
Maintaining a continuous workflow is one of the most common challenges freelancers face. Let’s face the darkest side of freelancing — unpredictability! The constant hustle to land new projects can deter even the most capable salesperson from venturing into freelancing. Alternately, while you may put tons of effort into securing a potential lead, they may disappear at the drop of a hat without even a call or email. Yet, this shouldn’t stop you from going solo.
If you actively focus on the following steps, you will turn your freelancer career into a successful business. It will take effort and patience, but you will get there.
- Build your personal brand.
- Network. Network. Network. Get yourself out there!
- Diversify your client’s list
- Establish your reputation by actively seeking client referrals
5. Life as a freelancer can get pretty lonely!
While freelancing gives the freedom and flexibility to work as you wish, it also means either working from home or at foreign client offices. This results in not having teammates around to brainstorm or give assistance when things get tough. The isolation can get pretty daunting quickly, especially if you are a people person. This is one challenge that most people do not foresee but when the loneliness hits, it hits hard.
Thus, it’s essential to build an active network of other freelancers.
By joining industry groups (both online and offline) and virtual communities (stay tuned for Outsized’s own Community platform!) you get to interact with freelancer of similar interests; these like-minded folks can be a goldmine of advice, referrals, and good old fashion conversation.
The challenges are plenty, but you should still do it!
It’s been rightly said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”
While the world of freelancing comes with its share of stumbling blocks, this career path provides excellent advantages if you are willing to put in the work.
- Be your own boss – have complete control over your work and schedules
- Pursue your passion while working on projects that challenge you
- Build an impressive portfolio and build a thriving business