Going from working full time to being self employed

I was unhappy in my job

We live in a world where at one point or another, most of us have had a job that we hated. Like really hated. But for one reason or another we continued to stay in this job. Usually it’s because we’ve got bills to pay, but we all have our breaking point. And that’s when the dreaded  job search begins. I too have been in this situation but instead of looking for a new job, I decided that I wanted to move from being a permanent employee to being a permanently self employed one.

Taking the leap from being a permanent employee to a self employed or freelance one is scary but in this post I hope that I can offer you some advice to help you along your way. I also hope this that post gives you the courage to pursue your dream job, no matter how out of the world it may seem. And this blog isn’t just for people who want to become self employed either, there are a few tips in here that can be applied to helping you secure your next permanent job role too.

You’ve decided you want to leave your job, what do you do next?

 Exhaust your network

Your network is your greatest asset and I can’t stress this enough. Having a strong network is far more valuable than a university degree (although you’ll probably still need the degree) and it’s fundamental to helping you find new work as quickly as possible. My husband always encouraged me to network whilst I was at university and I did it woefully (I’m not a fan of small talk) but looking back, I am so glad that I made an effort to join in with the small talk…no matter how painful! The first thing I did when I knew that I wanted to transition back to being self employed and this time for good, was write a list of all of the companies and agencies that I had worked with through my blog, and all of the contacts that I had made at different events. I found that I had built such a strong rapport with these people over the years that they were more than willing to chat to me and steer me into the right direction. Throughout your entire professional career, maintain good relationships with the people who work for the companies you want to work for.

If your network isn’t big- don’t worry. Someone will know someone who knows someone, so ask your friends to help you out and see if they can put you in touch with the right person. Who did you go to school, college and university with? What are these people doing?  They probably won’t be able to help you get a job on the spot but just listening to how someone in a similar situation to you mapped out their career will help you redefine yours.

Arm yourself with the ability to bounce back

I became self employed after brexit which has had a huge effect on businesses. Budgets have been frozen and purse strings have tightened. I found that the digital marketing industry completely froze up and only now has it started to melt. Remember to factor in the economy and the world around you when making your next job move. If few jobs come up in your job search hold fire on handing in your notice. Try to get yourself in the best possible position when you’re ready to leave but be prepared to have a few doors close in your face. It’s going to happen but you’ll get over it and another door will open. When you are self employed don’t be disheartened or demotivated when you have a quiet working week. Use it to find new work, extend your network and develop your skills. The self employed life is a bumpy road so buckle up and sit tight because unfortunately it doesn’t happen over night. You may plan to quit your job in May but can’t actually do it till the following year.

Find your USP and own it

Competition in the working world is as fierce as Beyonce in her Ring the Alarm music video, so you really need to bringing a vintage bottle of Champagne to the table if you want a look in (figuratively, not literally!) Work on refining your CV and make sure it shows off your work experience and puts you in the best light. Big yourself up! You need to make whoever is reading your CV believe that no one will be able to do the job as good as you. And when you get an interview, own it! Be confident, come will lots of ideas that show your expertise and don’t be afraid to say “I am actually really good at this”. It’s not boasting, it’s called being honest and if you don’t big yourself up, someone else will big up themselves and they’ll be the one who gets the job that you wanted so badly.

When you do become self employed:

Set yourself goals

When you’re working full time, you’ll have things like performance reviews to make sure you’re progressing but as a freelancer that kind of stops. It’s so important to set goals, they keep you motivated and will help you go from working in your bedroom to having an office and 3 people working for you. Set goals and revisit them every 6 months- year, just like you would as an employee. They could be anything from having an assistant in 6 months to having 3 clients on a retainer. It could even be to have the ability to run your company whilst you drinking fresh coconut water on a beach ! It’s also good to identify areas that need improving. Nothings stopping you from going to a college or university to do a one week course, you are your own boss now.

 Have multiple revenue streams

A lot of people have multiple revenue streams these days, but as someone who is self employed it’s crucial because when a contract comes to an end you need to keep yourself afloat until the next one comes in. And you kinda want to be able to have money to do things you love and not live pay check to pay check. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to make a career out of my blog, and there are so many ways for you to make money on the internet too. Blogging is one of them, if you’re experienced in the financial market spread betting is an excellent way to make (and lose!!) money. If you own a property, consider renting out a room or if you adore animals why not offer to walk your neighbour’s dogs whilst they are at work? Get creative, think outside the box and use your own skills and experience to have an additional income alongside freelancing. This will also come in handy for when invoices get paid late…which happens all.the.time.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Being a freelancer or self employed often means that you don’t always know where your next pay check is coming from, but please don’t let this allow people to mistreat you. Never devalue yourself. If the work that the client has asked to be completed is taking longer than expected, tell them. Make sure you get paid for every hour you work and don’t be afraid to ask for more money either! There isn’t a HR to keep everyone in check so it’s up to you to make sure that no one treats you badly. Find your voice and use it.

Enjoy it

Although it hasn’t always been swings and roundabouts, I can’t tell you just how much happier I am to be working in an environment that suits me and I feel like I am getting there. I am getting there, and you will too. Without sounding too cliche, when you’re transitioning from going from a full time job to setting up your own company or becoming a freelancer, the thing that you really need to put into practice everyday is believing in yourself and your ability to do well.

Have you transitioned from employed to self employed? How have you found it? And if you’re thinking about it, what’s your biggest worry?

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