For a lot of people, freelancing is the dream. Flexible hours, working from home, being your own boss; it sounds great!
But with the good, comes the bad. Being your own boss has a few pitfalls to be aware of.
Common problems for freelancers
Far from being an easy way out, working freelance can be challenging, stressful and, especially over the long term, isolating. However, there are ways to manage or overcome many of the common problems that freelancers face.
Any freelancer will tell you, the work isn’t consistent. One month you’ll be run off your feet and the next you’ll be trying to find ways to pass the time. This can lead to serious cash flow concerns.
If you find yourself with free time on your hands, browse for small tasks on websites like Fivvr or Upwork. During the busier months, prioritise your work so that less important tasks can shift to the next month.
Busier times are also a great time to put aside some money for the quieter months.
Full-time employment usually comes with some benefits, such as medical aid or year-end bonuses. As a freelancer, any added extras you decide to give yourself have to come from your pocket.
If you want to get a medical aid as a freelancer, you’ll need to shop around a bit to find the best option. Retirement plans tend to be pricey too, but there are some options that might be affordable once you’re well-established.
Working all by yourself can take some getting used to. Even people who enjoy solitude might find themselves craving some human interaction.
Make a habit of working in a coffee shop every now and then. Attend networking events as a way to meet new people and clients. The best way to get the social interaction of an office while still being a freelancer is to opt for a coworking space.
Because you’re the only point of contact for your clients, holidays can be few and far between. Even when you do take a break, you might end up working a few hours a day in any case.
Embrace the working holiday. If you can’t find time to take a complete break, combine work and a getaway by going on a coworking holiday. There are plenty of gorgeous coworking spaces all over the world.
More tax responsibilities
Much like admin, you have to do all the legwork when it comes to tax submissions and payments. You can hire someone to do it for you but that can be an unnecessary expense.
Paying provisional tax isn’t complicated; it just takes a bit more discipline because you pay the tax upfront for each year or tax season. From day one, make a habit of putting aside 20% of everything you earn to cover your tax obligations.
Also make sure you keep every receipt for business-related expenses, from stationery to computer equipment, office coffee and even business lunches. You can deduct legitimate business costs from your total taxable income, provided you have the necessary proof of those costs.
Different time zones
If you have international clients, you’ll have to keep track of multiple time zones. With some being behind and others being ahead, it’s a recipe for missed deadlines.
Use an app or browser plugin to keep you informed about what time of the day it is in different countries. If you prefer something more immediate, buy a few cheap wall clocks and set them to the different time zones.
Lack of concentration
Freelancing takes quite a bit of self-management and even the most disciplined will sometimes be distracted. Household chores, pets, children and trips to the shop can all disrupt your day.
Set yourself a routine and make use of online tools such as Trello and time management techniques such as Pomodoro. After a few weeks of sticking to the same schedule, it will become a habit that’s hard to break.
Freelancing at The Workspace
The Workspace makes freelancing a pleasure and can help overcome many of the challenges freelancers experience, including isolation.
We offer gorgeous, comfortable coworking spaces at affordable rates, together with a full reception service, high-speed internet, unlimited tea and coffee and access to well-appointed meeting rooms, ideal for meeting clients.
At selected branches, we also offer regular networking events, which may provide opportunities for expanding your client base and learning from fellow entrepreneurs.