Is it time to go freelance?

November 6, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Freelancing 

You’ve dreamed about. You’ve read about how others have done it. And now you’re feeling the itch to try it for yourself.

It’s time to go freelance! Or is it?

For me and many other professionals, there’s simply no better way to make a living and have a life than to set up shop as a freelancer. But making the transition can be a little tricky.

There’s a right time and a wrong time. If you quit at the wrong time for the wrong reasons, you’re likely to find yourself in a stressful and financially difficult situation. But if you quit at the right time and for the right reasons, you’re on your way to a rewarding career.

The wrong time to quit your job.

  • When you don’t have a plan.
  • When you’re angry with your boss or fed up with your job.
  • When you’re in debt and you’re looking for a way to make some quick money.
  • When you read a book on freelancing and suddenly get inspired.
  • When you get your first client “on the side” and feel like a big shot.
  • When you’re making a job transition to another line of work or you’re being transferred to another department.
  • When you’re fresh out of school and think you know it all.

Can you see the common thread here? Most people get the urge to go freelance when they’re unhappy and want a quick resolution to their problems. Or they’re inclined to make an enthusiastic (i.e. rash) decision because they’re feeling on top of the world and can’t see any downside.

I started freelancing the wrong way. So I have personal experience with some of these mistakes. I didn’t have a plan. I was fed up. I was in debt. And one top of that, I was a little desperate. Things worked out for me, but my life was turned upside down for a while. Just ask my wife. On second thought, don’t ask her. Her life was turned upside down too.

The right time to quite your job.

  • When you have a plan.
  • When you’re on good terms with your boss and things are okay with your job.
  • When your bills are paid off and you have savings you can live on for at least 6 months.
  • When you have read every book on freelancing and small business that you can get your hands on and you have a good understanding of what you’re getting into.
  • When you get several paying clients and have enough work to pay your basic expenses.
  • When you’ve been in your current job for a few years and your position is stable.
  • When you have a little job experience under your belt. Enough time to know that you didn’t learn squat in school.

Actually, the ideal time to quit your job is when you’ve met ALL of these conditions. That’s a tall order. And life doesn’t work out that way most of the time. But if you can manage it, that is the best situation to be in when you make the leap.

The takeaway here is to quit your job in an orderly and methodical way. Why? Because it takes about 3 to 5 years to get a freelance operation working smoothly. For some of that time, you’re going to be struggling to find clients and figure out how to run a business.

Leaping into freelancing with your eyes shut can make you desperate and broke, which can lead to bailing out for the security of another full-time job. And that will make it doubly hard to go freelance later. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say.

So is today the right time for you to quit your job? Here are a few resources I suggest to help you make the transition. Of these, I highly recommend Ed Gandia’s Stop Wishing and Start Earning since it gives you a step-by-step plan for making the switch from job to freelancing.

Stop Wishing and Start Earning

The Freelance Mom

Before You Quit Your Day Job (audio)

There are many other resources like this in (where else?) my resource section.

Related posts:

  1. 8 time-eating freelance client species to avoid

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Smart Comments

One Comment on Is it time to go freelance?

  1. Donovan Owens on Nov 6th, 2009 10:25 am
  2. Hey Dean, I can relate to this:

    “I started freelancing the wrong way. So I have personal experience with some of these mistakes. I didn’t have a plan. I was fed up. I was in debt. And one top of that, I was a little desperate. Things worked out for me, but my life was turned upside down for a while. Just ask my wife. On second thought, don’t ask her. Her life was turned upside down too.”

    I had passion belief and tons of faith though and I made it.
    .-= Donovan Owens’s last blog … Pics and Videos =-.