Going Independent: Kick Your Day Job, Jump Start Your Next Life

Freelancing is not for everyone and it was, at first, a big adjustment for me.  Looking back, it’s now one of the healthiest – and happiest – life changes I’ve made in years.  Recently I’ve spoken with some professionals who are toying with the notion of going independent.  If you’re considering taking the plunge, here are some thoughts you might contemplate based on my recent experience:

-Make a plan:  figure out a plan and WRITE IT DOWN.  Who will be your clients?  You probably know what services you will provide, but what won’t your new company do?

-Stash the cash:  most financial experts insist that you put away a minimum of six months’ living expenses.  Figure out what equipment you need to get started.  Consult with an accountant who specializes in small business before you make the leap – not afterwards.  You’ll be grateful and so will your accountant.

-Establish a schedule:  this point was wildly important for me.  Confined by a calendar and corporate expectations for so many years?  The freedom you’ll experience when you first transition out of your 9 a.m.-5 p.m. job can be intimidating.  Plan out your days and weeks with the tasks you’ll need to complete to get your business off the ground.

-Form a support group:  while this a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment, it’s true!  Rally your friends and family around you before taking the plunge.  You’ll be glad to have their support.  I also joined a local professional women’s networking group comprised of entrepreneurs.  We meet monthly and this network has become a great resource for me on a variety of topics.  I’ve acquired some client referrals as well.

The “new economy” business model relies less and less on professional staff and more heavily on consultants.  Many industry analysts have indicated that fewer companies will be inclined to subsidize their employees’ healthcare in the age of Obamacare.  Some organizations may eliminate positions and hire consultants to do work where healthcare coverage is neither an issue nor an expense.

For many years, I considered becoming an entrepreneur; I see greater opportunity now than ever before.  Looking in the rearview mirror at the 18-hour-a-day plus weekends gig I left behind, I now can’t imagine doing anything else.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with over my career.  My decision to make my own opportunities – to the extent I’m able – has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

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