5 reasons a freelance career is not for you
Thinking of joining the gig economy?
Is a freelance career really for you? For some, opting out isn't the solution.
For many women pursuing a career or revenue generating activity is about "opting out" or "leaning in." Both choices are steeped in challenges. The gig economy is a current employment trend, pitched as a viable career alternative for many. However, this type of professional activity and positioning is not for everyone. Large numbers, especially of women, end up feeling dissatisfied, frustrated and working longer hours for less money. 68% of women in particular take home less than they did before. They still have punishing and demanding schedules, simply with a different structure.
Say no to a freelance career if you are looking for the following:
#1 Work life separation
There is a chance that your work and life will truly integrate and become indistinguishable. You may have limited down-time; you can't ignore calls or requests from potential clients without a cost benefit analysis of the potential fall-out to your business of doing so. Vacations, weekends and nights off will change as you will constantly have to check in to run your business. How successfully you can deal with clients from a beach in Thailand will depend on the type of business you run. It is not always easy to carve out time for personal activities, especially as women usually opt for freelance careers to allow them to manage other responsibilities. One of the hardest lessons to learn in the gig economy is that freedom doesn't always correspond with flexibility.
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#2 You appreciate fringe benefits
In a freelance career you will have to provide and factor in the costs of any fringe benefits traditionally associated with being an employee. This involves medical coverage, pension plans, paid vacations and days off. Even free office coffee is an overhead when you have to provide it yourself. These hidden costs needs to be factored into your pricing.
#3 You want to focus on your trade
Services that are usually built into corporate life are gone. If your computer or telephone crash then you have to rely on yourself to get things sorted. There are no more techies in IT who will rush up to solve the problem. The same goes for all other associated activities such as: PR, marketing, web development, pricing, financial planning, book-keeping, tax returns, business plans and other tasks which were completed sometimes invisibly in a corporate setting, as they now fall on your plate. You have to be willing to outsource or do them yourself. Many freelancers sub-contract all or parts of these service to other freelancers or service providers and find themselves a low priority. A lot of time is spent chasing people who have failed to follow through. This means you spend less time on your core business.
#4 No selling and networking
In a freelance career the ABC of selling applies. Always Be Closing. Some are not comfortable with that and many women especially don't like to turn social contacts into professional connections. This means that professional networking will absorb much of your time as you position yourself for better opportunities. Your social media time will be less about your kids, holidays and cats on Facebook and Instagram and more about extending your reach on LinkedIn. If you are not comfortable with that, a freelance career is probably not for you.
#5 Financial security
It is true that no job is secure either in a corporate or freelance career. But the ups and downs of self-employment are not for everyone. For some, looking at the bigger picture is difficult and the absence of a monthly pay check creates deep anxiety. This can cause going off-plan and taking work at any price, resulting in "busyness" which doesn't pay the bills. Women in freelance careers failing to make long-term retirement provision contributes to projected pension poverty in later life.
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