A couple of weeks ago, I conducted a survey among moms on what their biggest challenge is when it comes to the idea of working from home or freelancing. One issue that stood out is:
I work full-time, but I want to shift to working from home or freelancing. How do I prepare for the big jump?
I totally, totally understand. The idea of shifting from a job that gives you stable income to one that is less stable is scary as hell. I was at the exact same spot in 2011 when I had to choose between getting a 8-5 job or staying at home with our then infant, Kelly.
Note that I was already freelancing by 2011 (I started in 2008), but the option of working full-time came up because we were having a child. Like all parents I know, we all want to earn enough to give our child the best. So yes, I understand where your hesitation is coming from.
Questions like these popped up:
- How unstable is ‘unstable’?
- Will the income be enough?
- What will I do if I don’t get projects?
- Where do I begin?!?!?!
And as you all know, despite my (mostly money-related) fears about freelancing, I went for it. And five years later, I’m still rocking it!
Anyway. Back to the issue at hand – how can you prepare for the shift? When it comes to shifting from a full-time job to freelancing, the main issue really is the finances. To be able to prepare for the shift, you’ll have to start with a financial check:
- Do you have an emergency fund? This is super important especially when you finally decide to be a freelancer (or entrepreneur). It’s recommended to have around $1000 (PHP 45,000) in your emergency fund, but if you ask me, I’d advise you to prepare six months (or a year!) worth of your expenses. Why do I say this? When you start freelancing, expect that the income will be unstable at first. You are still finding your groove and exploring your options so it’s normal to be getting short-term or hourly contracts during this time. This is why it’s helpful to have an emergency fund to withdraw money from when you’re short. [Important: The Emergency Fund is NOT for out-of-the-blue spending! Make sure you only use it to pay for essentials when you really don’t have money.]
- Are you ready to tighten your belt? As I mentioned above, the beginning of your freelancing career may be a bit rough. Be ready to create a budget and have the self-control to stick with it. I’m going to say that again, have the self-control to stick to your budget!
Aside from your finances, it’s also important to know that you’re ready to take on the challenges of being a work at home parent. For most of my readers who are moms, this includes working while taking care of the kids and managing the household:
- Do you have a chore system at home? We do and believe me, this will keep you sane throughout your freelancing journey. I have a schedule for everything – laundry, cooking (in batches), cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. Having a certain chore scheduled for each day will help you heaps in keeping overwhelm at bay!
- Is the whole family in it? I wouldn’t have survived if it weren’t for my family. My biggest supporter is my husband, who helps in the house and shares parenting responsibilities with me despite having a full-time job. Now that the minis are older, they also help with little tasks at home like sweeping and mopping the floor, putting away clutter, and sorting the laundry.
- Can you control yourself? I already mentioned self-control above when it comes to sticking to your budget, but this also applies to other things. When you work from home (or from anywhere – like the beach – my fave!), it can be tempting to just slack off and let everything slip through the cracks. Do. Not. Let. That. Happen. When you start freelancing, you won’t have a manager to keep you in check. You’ll be working on your own so it’s your duty to keep yourself on track. I think this is where most people who tried to freelance failed. That’s why when someone asks about freelancing, I always remind them that it’s not for everyone…which brings us back to all the points I just mentioned above.
How can you prepare for the big jump to full-time freelancing?
- Get your finances in order.
- Get your work and home systems in order.
- Get yourself in order.
Mom On Duty Tip:
Before taking the leap to freelancing or entrepreneurship, my advice is to test the waters first before diving into it. Keep your full-time job, but at the same time, start working on part-time freelance gigs. This way, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the work is like and how much money comes in. If you think you’ll be able to earn more (and live more) when you freelance, then you can jump right in.
Moreover, taking part-time freelance gigs while working full-time is an awesome way to build on your emergency fund! Win-win!
Do you have questions about freelancing or creating a home based business? Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!