It’s no mystery why so many people are attracted to the allure of the self-employed life. A career as a freelancer has a lot of appeal. After all, not many careers offer the financial potential, variety of experience, and freedom that being self-employed offers. However, it’s not all wine and roses. Self-employed consultants face many challenges and pitfalls along the road to success. So, what are these traps, and how can you avoid them?
1. Failure To Market Yourself
When you’re first starting out as a self-employed person, you need to use every opportunity you have to market your services. After all, you can’t land clients if nobody knows you’re open for business.
Chances are, someone you know needs your services…
The first thing you should do is get the basic elements of marketing together. Have business cards and stationery made that feature your logo and company name. Establish a web presence, and start utilizing social networking to spread the word. Contact your friends, family, former business associates and schoolmates, and everyone you regularly do business with.
Don’t be shy. Chances are, someone you know either needs your services or knows someone who does.
2. An Attitude of Superiority
Yes, the firm you are working for has brought you in to solve a problem they just can’t seem to take care of on their own, and yes, you might be the most eminent expert in your field, but that’s no excuse to have an arrogant attitude.
You might consider their policies downright archaic. Perhaps you’re taken aback at how simply the problem can be solved and completely amazed that it took bringing you in to solve it. Nonetheless, being dismissive or condescending to the people in the organization that hired you will only make your job more.
3. Inadequate Insurance
When you are self-employed, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is being underinsured. It is easy to see how this can happen – after all, money is tight and you have to budget. But the good news is that health insurance may be much more affordable than you think. Check out, for instance, what our friends at eHealthInsurance have to offer. It is surprisingly easy to get, and affordable.
4. Charging by the Hour
If you’re charging your clients by the hour, you’re basically telling them to use the amount of time it takes you to complete a project as a gauge of how much work is getting done. Basing your fee on the problem getting solved is a far superior way of doing business.
If you can come up with a solution to your client’s difficulties in a matter of hours, then so be it. Your client will be satisfied, and you’ll be off to your next job, paycheck in hand, without the temptation of stretching the project out in order to fatten your wallet. (Not that you’d ever do that.)
5. Getting Too Set in Your Ways
You might have come up with a solution to a certain type of problem that has worked so brilliantly, so many times in the past, that you start to try to find problems that fit the mold of your solution. Don't get too set in your ways. Losing the ability to think on your feet and approach every set of circumstances with a fresh perspective will severely limit your effectiveness.
Instead, ask your clients plenty of questions about what they want to accomplish and which roadblocks are preventing them from doing so. Not only will doing your research about the matter at hand make it easier to formulate a solution that you’ll feel good about standing behind, you just might gain some insight that will come in handy on a future gig. The bottom line? Keep an open mind and never stop learning.