With more than 53 million Americans now working in the gig economy, freelancing is critical to the modern business environment. A growing number of people have experience finding and completing work independently of an employer, allowing them to experience being their own boss. If you've succeeded at freelancing, you may wonder if you could fund and run your own company. Freelance work does provide insight into entrepreneurship, but success in the gig economy does not automatically translate into business acumen. Before you make the transition, consider:
Freelance Skills & ShortcomingsIn deciding whether to become an entrepreneur, the first step is to consider which skills you’ve learned from your freelance career. Freelancing gives you a significant head start, teaching you how to:
- Manage Your Time- No entrepreneur can succeed without understanding that their time is valuable. Unlike hourly employees, freelancers are often paid per word or per project, meaning every second they waste is less time they can spend earning money. Even if your clients pay per hour, you still have to manage your time on a number of tasks that are not directly paid, but are necessary to attract and retain clients.
- Build a Network- Freelancers can rarely expect potential clients to come to them. Instead, they have to learn how to network. This means attending conferences, obtaining referrals, using social media, and promoting yourself in countless other ways. Knowing how to network will allow you to bring in revenue for your business from the beginning.
- Cultivate Relationships- In addition to finding clients in the first place, successful freelancers must also encourage those clients to keep coming back to them. They must communicate with past clients regularly and remind them of their services, all while showing respect and courtesy. Only in this way can they convince large numbers of clients to send them regular work and to recommend them to other businesses. This skill is every bit as valuable for entrepreneurs.
While freelancing does teach you critical entrepreneurial skills, there are limits to what you can learn from this type of work alone. While it is important to know the value of your time, for example, entrepreneurs have to manage other people’s time on top of their own. This requires much more complex planning, and there is a higher risk that your time management plans will not succeed. Likewise, while freelancing teaches you to build networks and relationships with clients, entrepreneurs also need to connect with contractors, employees, regulatory agencies, and countless other individuals and organizations. You have to communicate with each group in a different way; don’t assume that interacting with clients will prepare you for all these relationships.
Signs Of Future SuccessFor all the limits of freelance work, it does give you insight into your potential for entrepreneurship. You may be cut out for business if you
- Have’ve Hit the Ceiling- Successful freelancers often find that there is an upper limit to the number of assignments they get, after which point they cannot make more money. While this can be frustrating, it suggests that you seek out as much work as possible and finish it ahead of schedule. This bodes well for your ability to manage the heavy workload that business owners face.
- Start Side Projects- Freelancers often begin side projects, such as writing their own books or programming their own games. If you find yourself devoted to such projects and manage to make some money off them, you may be able to expand them into a full-fledged business.
- Crave Enrichment- Potential entrepreneurs enjoy working with clients from a myriad of industries and collaborating with many different types of professionals. If you find such varied work enriching rather than confusing, you may take well to the many duties of a business owner.