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Mark Melia

Question:

Hi. I was transfered from Italy to Belgium. I have been with the same company for over twenty years and I feel it's time for a break. I am thinking of going freelance, setting up an online business, but I am nervous about failing and then not being able to get back into fulltime employment.

by Mark Melia on 21 Apr 2010
Andre Keil

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Answer:

Hi Mark;

Making the switch from a salaried job to freelance, by setting up your own online business is indeed an important decision. Before getting started, a bit of soul-searching is in order: What’s important to you about going freelance? Is it the freedom you get from being your own boss? Is there something about your business that is really “you” and you’re providing something meaningful to your (potential) customers? Or do you just hate your job and can’t take another day?

Take your time on this soul-searching step. Put yourself into the daily life of a freelancer. What would it be like to set your own hours? That part sounds great, of course, but what about a steady pay-check? Then, talk to other people you respect and that have done what you want to do. If you don’t know anyone, look up some websites that you like and contact the owners.

Once you’ve connected to what you think is important to you (what you MUST have in your life) and have a clear picture of what people in your industry do (and be sure to ask practical questions, like how much do you earn? How much do you work? Do you like what you do?), only then can you make a good decision. I say this because there will be high moments and low moments – and it’s during the latter that you need to hold on to the reasons why you got into this in the first place!


As far as my own experiences, starting my business has been the most challenging experience I’ve ever had. At the same time, it has been extremely rewarding and I have absolutely no regrets. I’ve grown more in the last five months than I have in the last 5 years, I am fully connected to my work and the people I work with, and have no boss telling me what to do.

You mention you are nervous about failing. It’s an understandable feeling. I would challenge you to explore what’s behind this feeling. Meditate on moments you’ve failed in your life before and how you managed to get out those situations. What worked for you? For me, what’s worked is to fully embrace failing, and to look at everything as opportunities for learning. When you fail, you grow.

Finally, some practical advice: Is it possible for you to continue working AND set up your business? This can give you a nice preview of what your future work will be like. Perhaps it helps to look at this as if you’re getting additional education or training. Along the way, you can see what resources are available to you (do you know anyone in your community that can help you? Are you networking in your new field? Do you have sufficient funds to invest in your business?). Coupled with checking your resources, have you given the outcome for your business some thought? Start setting goals (modest if you start part-time) and track your progress. Finally, above all, be patient – it takes time to nurture and grow your business.

All this is easier said than done of course. But if starting a business is a core value that you’re not honoring for yourself, I challenge you to fully explore your options. You owe this to yourself!


Good luck,

-Andre

by Andre Keil on 26 Apr 2010

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