It’s exciting to have dreams of quitting your job and starting a freelance business. The big question is: when do you know if the time is right? It’s easy to want to quit your job after a stressful meeting or designing the exact same pattern for the 100th time; however, that is not the best way to launch a successful business. We are all passionate about an exciting and creative industry but we cannot forget that in order to have a successful business it needs to be profitable. Some solid footwork and thought into how to run a business is necessary in order to really enjoy the creative aspects of it. As with most industries, it takes time to develop high quality products, find the right market, and consistently market products in the right way.
From the outside looking in, it’s interesting to watch someone who just up and quits their job. It may appear like they waltzed out the door one day and walked into their new, fast-growing business. It’s rare that is truly the case. Taking risks and bold actions is great, even mandatory for an entrepreneur, but a large amount of planning and preparation also goes into starting a business.
Do you think you’re ready to start your own business? Or, is this something you are interested in pursuing? Here are a few ways to help prepare you for the big day and take away some of the uncertainty.
1. Save, save, save!
Before leaving your full-time job, save up enough money to cover at least three months of living expenses. When I left my in-house design position I did that and it made a huge difference. Remember: it will take at least thirty days to be paid for your new freelance projects and many times they take weeks, even months, to finalize. The more money you have saved the better off you’ll be.
2. Start the business now.
I strongly encourage designers to start with a part-time business, taking advantage of nights and weekends until things are up and running. Consistent clients and a steady flow of sales will do wonders to boost your confidence for going full-time with your own business. Of course things will be stressful at times but not as stressful as if you are wondering where the money to pay your bills is going to come from. Also, check and see if you have any non-complete clauses to be concerned with. There is always something that can be done even when you may have one that stops you from doing one aspect. For example, start your website, put the groundwork in place, and prepare your projects and products.
3. Do your research and find your place in the market.
Research is so important to building a business that is right for your lifestyle and personality, as well as logical in a business sense. If it takes you fifteen hours to create a print selling the rights to your work through a print studio may not be your best option. Licensing, on the other hand, may be perfect. The longer I work in this industry the clearer it has become that we each have our own place within it. There are countless markets, sales options, and acceptable styles. Sometimes it just takes time to find your “design home.”
It’s been over four years since I quit my full-time job and hands down, it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I believe it is that way because I prepared for those first few months and by doing so, it reduced my stress quite a bit. Having the income stability of my full-time job made it a less stressful endeavor. If you see a freelance business in your future start planning for that new chapter in your life today. It’ll make it much easier to know when it really is time to quit your full-time job and sprout off on your own.