Here’s something you don’t hear everyday:
God damn it! I have a holiday coming up.
Let me be clear a here, this is a BAD “God Damn it”, not a good one.
I am sitting in my apartment on a bank holiday weekend with my wonderful girlfriend and it dawned on me. Working as a freelancer means that holidays are something to dread, not to look forward to.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bank holiday weekend as much as the next guy and I cannot wait to take a trip to a tropical island later in the year, but there is an element of fear with every break in work, long or short.
Why? Every break sin work also means a break in pay. I know what you are going to say because I have, in the past, been the guy saying it.
Freelancers don’t get to complain about this stuff.
To a certain extent that is true, but the things you have to sacrifice for that extra pay are a long list. For each and every pro there is a corresponding con.
I can choose to work when I want and with who I want but I also need to ensure I work enough to be able to buy enough food to feed my seemingly never ending appetite.
I can take holiday whenever I want but when I do take holiday, I don’t get paid for that time.
I get paid more than the average employee but I don’t get the guarentee of being paid at all.
I get the tax benefits of being a limited company but I have to sit down and figure out how much I am allowed to pay myself so I can be sure that HMRC don’t fall down on my like a ton of bricks demanding money they I don’t have.
The glorious heights inevitably come with crippling anxiety and worry over where the next cheque might come from. If I had have to this in my early 20’s before producing children, paying rent and trying to pretend to be an adult, maybe the stress wouldn’t have been so high. I didn’t do that though. I waited until I was nearly 30. On the plus side, I have already lost my hair so all the stress can take away from me is my excess weight, to which it is welcome.
I want to be honest here. Becoming a freelance digital marketer might be the best decision I have ever made. I am loving it, but it wouldn’t be fair of me to record this “journey” (yes I called it a journey) without speaking honestly about the sacrifices you have to make.
Going through this process is forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone every single day. Even something as simple as transferring money from my business account to my personal account for the first time seemed like a nightmarish process. It involved maths, a calculator and an accountant telling me what I could and couldn’t do. I spent a good couple of hours just deciding what date each month I should pay myself. Even then I had to consider what would happen if invoices hadn’t cleared by that day.
What if my maths was wrong (as it so often is)? What if I misunderstood the advice that my accountant gave me? What if my investment with the former president of the bank of Nigeria didn’t work out and I didn’t get my promised returns?
Freelancing means making tough decisions and sacrifice.
It’s true, the benefits are numerous and in many cases outweigh full time employment considerably. It is also true that the sacrifices, pressure and the opportunity to become overwhelmed are ever present.
After one month of freelancing, here’s what I can guarentee.
The success or failure of the venture begins and ends with you. You have complete control which is something you could never say about being employed by someone else.
The security of full-time employment is largely an illusion. With a lack of employee rights when you have given less than two years service, the ability for a company to end your employment without reason is a fairly simple processs. Even after your two years service, there is no guarentee. If business takes a downturn, redundancy is often the first port of call.
If after some time freelancing and creating a business I do not succeed, I cannot blame my boss, the market or my colleagues, I can only blame myself.
My conclusion is I would much rather make sacrifices, take risks and deal with short term discomfort in exchange for having full control of my success or failure.
p.s. For those of you who are interested in a freelance digital marketer in Birmingham, I have availability from 25th June, so get in touch.