Why start your own freelance / consulting practice? (Part 2)
Last week I shared four great reasons to become a freelancer or consultant and now I’m adding four more to the list. (I claimed there are a “zillion good reasons,” but don’t worry, this series doesn’t go on forever!)
Be treated like a valued professional.
Generally speaking, your consulting and freelance clients value your expertise much more than corporate supervisors did. I think there are two reasons for this. First, all they know are your credentials; they have not witnessed your weaknesses and have not a clue to your personal insecurities. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt.
Second, since you’re out of sight, you present no political risk. Everything you do well makes the person who brought you in for the project look good, and no matter how impressive your work, your corporate liaison has no fear that you—unknown to the rest of the organization—can claim his or her spot on the corporate pyramid.
You’re not gunning for their job. Your contact person may be the only one at the company who knows you. All your strengths are indeed perceived as strengths instead of as threats since the client counts on you to work independently and meet tight deadlines with no on-site overseer. You’ve got to be good.
“Write” your own employee manual.
Maybe this should be moved to the top of the list. There are so many advantages to self-employment (when you’re working at home) if you allow them. Some coaches recommend that you dress up as if you’re going to the most conservative office in the world –complete with neckties or high heels. They say this enables you to achieve professional quality even though you are seated in your bedroom in front of your computer.
If dressing professionally were necessary to produce professional-level work, my career would be in pretty bad shape. I love to dress in sweatsuits or shorts and it doesn’t impede my productivity in any way.
And that’s the point of self employment. You can dress, schedule your time, play music, and eat snacks however, wherever and whenever you choose. All that matters is that the work gets done as expected, that you continue to market wholeheartedly and that you present a professional image to the client.
If you are conscientious and self-disciplined, having flexibility in your scheduling is heavenly.
Improve your negotiations for a full-time job.
When you are idle and steadily spending down your assets, you may jump at any job offer, no matter how unappealing or underpaid. When you have some freelance work on your plate, you quiet the desperation and present your needs—or even demands? —more assertively.
Tend to your children and other family obligations.
This is a valid benefit of freelancing and consulting, but only to an extent. When my children were young, I’d tell callers that I was on my way out to a meeting. Actually, I was rushing them to the doctor to get scrips for their recurring ear infections.
I believe it is important to present a professional image to the client regardless of what is really going on at home. My children knew that when I was on the phone with a “customer”—a label I used for everyone from a client to an information source—they were not to disturb me.
Freelancing / consulting does not extend the number of hours in the day. But it does give you the flexibility to determine how you will schedule those 24 hours more creatively. You cannot achieve all that a full-time parent does and all that a full-time independent does simultaneously, but it’s better than working in someone else’s office where you have to ask permission to take care of what needs to be done.
Originally posted 5-4-09