If I was left to my own devices, I’d spend my days daydreaming, fellowshipping with like-minds, and people-watching from a distance. But I just got back from work where I spent all day putting out fires around the office. My administrative assistant job in a large organization is fast-paced and entails massive workloads, tight deadlines, constant pressure, and stress. It’s no wonder I want to get out of the rat race.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a slow thinker. I don’t like to move at a fast pace. I aspire to be like a crocodile. Crocodiles conserve energy by moving slowly or remaining motionless. It could be the reason why they have long lifespans and outlived the dinosaurs. I want to be a crocodile when I grow up, but the corporate environment is not exactly the best place for a baby crocodile to grow up.
I WANT TO GET OUT OF THE RAT RACE
I want to get out of the rat race of the corporate machine so badly. I am tired of trudging through the dreaded 9-5 grind day in and day out. I feel like a hamster in a wheel, running faster and harder as the hours get longer and longer. I see no end in sight to this corporate rat race. The worst thing about this is that my zeal for life is waning so long as I am caught up in this cycle. I am so demotivated. And I am tired.
I can’t imagine that I am the only one who is tired of their job taking up most of their waking hours, tired of working to satisfy someone else’s expectations and goals. Please, if you are invested in your corporate job, this is not for you. I am speaking to the people who are sick of feeling stuck and want to escape the omnipotent corporate machine. Considering that I want to get out of the rat race myself, I did some research to help hatch an escape plan. The plan here is not to quit my job, only to search for another corporate job that is hopefully better than the last. Since my plan is to quit the rat race altogether, my research focuses on how to transition from a corporate job to freelancing.
HOW TO QUIT YOUR CORPORATE JOB AND BECOME A FREELANCER
Quitting your corporate job and starting your own freelancing business can be an exciting prospect, but this operation requires careful planning and execution. Here are some steps to help you get started in the right direction:
Step 1: Identify Your Niche:
First things first, you need to determine the specific skills and expertise you will be offering as a freelancer. Will you use the skills and experience you gained from your corporate job, or will you learn new skills in a different industry? Identifying a niche that aligns with the skills and experience that you already have can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace and get profitable quicker. Alternatively, you might want to focus on freelancing in a niche that you are genuinely interested in. While this is a riskier route to take, your passion may be the thing that sustains you through the steep learning curves and growing pains of your freelancing business.
Step 2: Build a Portfolio:
Even if you haven’t dipped your toes into freelancing before, don’t worry. You can create a solid portfolio of relevant projects from your previous corporate job to showcase your expertise. Highlight your accomplishments, skills, and the value you added to your previous role. If you are exploring a new industry or niche, document the learning process and compile it into a portfolio. This kind of portfolio can showcase different aspects of your budding skillsets in ways that a polished portfolio can’t.
Step 3: Market Research:
To succeed as a freelancer, it’s crucial to know your target audience as well as the competition in your chosen niche. Dive deep into their needs and pain points, and then work on finding those things about you that make you uniquely positioned to help them resolve these needs and pain points.
Step 4: Legal and Administrative Setup:
By now you might be thinking, “I want to get out of the rat race already!” But hold on tight, because before you dive into the world of being your own boss, there are some important steps you need to nail down. This is the not so fun part where you need to think about the legal and administrative stuff that might sound boring but is super crucial. Get your business officially registered with the relevant authorities.
To achieve this, you’ve got to pick the right setup for your purposes, and you have many different business structures to choose from. You can choose a sole proprietorship, which is the go-to legal structure for most one-person businesses. Another business structure you could consider is a Limited Liability Company. The advantage of this legal structure over sole proprietorship is that it provides personal protection from financial liabilities. In case something goes wrong in your business that, for example, leads to legal action or bankruptcy, your personal assets are safe.
Don’t forget to follow the rules instituted by your municipal and provincial governments. Depending on the nature of your freelancing business, you might be required to get special licenses or permits.
Step 5: Financial Planning:
When starting a freelancing business, financial planning is important, it’s like creating a roadmap for how you’ll manage your money. You want to organize your money in a way that helps your business thrive while also making sure you’re prepared for expenses and taxes. It’s advisable to open a bank account just for your freelancing business. The idea is to keep the money you earn from your freelancing work separate from your personal money. This makes it easier to keep track of how much money is coming in and going out of your business. Put together a pricing structure to decide how much to charge for your freelancing services. Set prices that cover inevitable things like expenses and taxes. Expenses are the costs you will incur when running your freelance business. This could be things like your internet bill, software, or any equipment you use.
Step 6: Contracts and Agreements
Creating well-defined and professional contracts is vital when starting a freelancing business. These contracts are written agreements that lay out all the important details of the work you will be doing for the client. They establish clear expectations for both you and your clients. By putting everything in writing, you are less likely to run into disagreements and misunderstandings down the line. If there is ever a dispute you can refer to the contract for reference. There are several factors to consider when drafting contracts and agreements:
Scope of Work: This part of the contract explains exactly what you’re going to do for your client by outlining the tasks, services, or products you will provide. Having a clear scope will help both you and your client understand what’s expected of both parties.
Timeframes: This section outlines the deadlines for different stages of the project. Adhering to timelines and schedules will keep the project on track and ensure that it is accomplishable.
Terms of Payment: The Terms of Payment should clearly state the cost of your services, when the payment should be made, and the method of payment. It should include details like upfront payments, payment plans, and deposits.
Terms and Conditions: Depending on the nature of the work, there may be other important details to include in your contract. For instance, if you are working with sensitive information, you might need to include a confidentiality clause. If there is a possibility that there may be changes during the project, you might want to include a clause that accounts for revisions. The terms and conditions address specific concerns related to your services and products.
Step 7: Networking:
Networking is the secret sauce for freelancers. Leveraging your existing professional network is one of the most important strategies you can use to successfully promote and grow your freelance business and gain more clients as well as collaborators. A good place to start networking is by attending industry events, webinars, and conferences, and joining online communities and networks like LinkedIn. You can also join a group on Meetup.com. Meetup is a social networking site that allows you to find and join groups that are related to your personal interests. It is used to organize offline events so that group members can meet in person.
Step 8: Marketing and Promotion:
It’s time to spread the word further and let the world know all about your freelancing services. You can do this by developing a bulletproof marketing plan that will enhance your online presence and help you stay relevant in today’s digital space.
Set up a website or blog: Setting up a website or blog for your business is essential for maximizing strategies like content marketing to promote and grow your business. With content marketing, you can effectively communicate with potential clients and build a successful online presence. It’s a way of boosting visibility and organic traffic to your website as well as building brand awareness. This can include publishing helpful and interesting content online through blogposts or videos to establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Leverage social media: Once you have set up a website as the digital homebase for your business, you can leverage social media to increase your discoverability. With nearly 5 billion active users on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Meta, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and X (formerly Twitter) combined, it is no wonder that business owners large and small are taking advantage of social media to help promote and grow their businesses. Social media is a cost-effective way of increasing your brand awareness, generating leads, building customer relationships, and ultimately driving sales. Choose one or two of the many social media platforms that are at your disposal and share content that is valuable and interesting to your target audience.
Build an Email List: When you start getting traction, you can begin to build an email list. Most businesses use email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, Aweber, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, and GetResponse, etc. to automate the process of email list building. It is important to build an email list because your audience will be safe – unlike on social media where many have, overnight, lost thousands of followers that it took them years to gain through an arbitrary policy or algorithm change on the platform.
Online Advertising: Sometimes our best efforts to promote our businesses on the internet at zero cost may need a little help, that’s where online advertising comes in. There are a range of options available, from Google Ads and Facebook Ads all the way to Instagram Ads and LinkedIn Ads. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to selecting which advertising platform is best for your freelancing business. However, you might want to consider factors such as each platform’s strengths and user demographics to aid in making the right decision on where best to invest in online advertising efforts for maximum effect.
Budget wisely! Whether the goal is to reach new clients, boost sales, or create brand awareness, it’s important to determine how much you can afford to spend on online marketing without breaking the bank. Understanding the parameters beforehand can ensure success in your advertising campaigns.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am ready to start my art business – oh, did I mention that I am planning to quit my corporate job to start an art business in the science fiction and horror niche? Before you run off and quit your day job, do your due diligence. Do your own research and arrive at a clear understanding why you want to leave your corporate job. Could it be that you are seeking more fulfilling work, better work-life balance, or a change of scenery? Assess your financial situation. Will you have enough savings to cover your expenses during the potentially lean times when you might not be making money while getting your freelancing business off the ground. You could put together extra financial cushioning from things you’re entitled to, like severance pay, unused vacation days, and any other benefits.
Read this far? You might also like my blog post, Imagine a World with No Clocks – Would Civilization Survive?
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