42million people are predicted to be self-employed in America by 2020.Self-employment is alluring to some, inevitable to others; as an artist and ahungry creative, I’ve naturally transitioned to a freelancelifestyle over the years.
Yet self-employment is not as easy as it may seem, particularly if it feels like a lastresort. Plenty of independent contractors and freelancers may feel driven totheir roles if they’ve struggled to acquire other employment.
I’m here to tell you that you can beself-employed with confidence. You can even navigate the thorny financialaspect of freelancing with ease, provided you are armed with the right mindset,knowledge, and tools.
Here’s your quick guide to self-employment.Tuck it into your pocket for those rainy, stingy-feeling days.
Establish a financial strategy.
Employment means money—so doesself-employment. Establishing a financial strategy—how you’ll handle cash flowand taxes—from the start can be vital for your own peace of mind.
You may even want to open separate accountsfor personal and business spending purposes, depending on your role as afreelancer. This is particularly essential if you are starting your ownbusiness.
Be mindful of where you distribute cash (i.e.,income). Instead of just plunking all payments into your checking account, spliteach payment into separate uses. I like to take paychecks and distributeportions to existing bills, my savings account, and car loan payments before I thinkabout “disposable” income.
If you don’t have regular paychecks, you can generate your own paystubs for record-keepingpurposes.
Claim your title.
It’s easy to assume that as a freelancer, youaren’t “really” working. I believed this for quite some time. Internalizing suchsentiments can send your self-esteem tanking and even devalue the work youperform.
Claim your title as a self-employedindividual, and claim it with confidence. When people as you “what you do,”answer honestly. Marketing yourself with awebsite or business cards can also help you claim this title moreeffectively.
Create work/life boundaries.
Because you don’t have an employer dictatingwhen to work (and when not to work), it can be tough striking a healthywork-life balance as a self-employed individual. Yet these boundaries areessential for your own well-being—I speak from experience!
Set working hours for yourself, and do yourbest to adhere to them. Actively commit to taking at least one day off a week,either by telling clients you’re unavailable then or blocking this time off onyour virtual calendar.
If possible, perform work in a dedicatedspace, and keep this separate from your personal life. I have a home officethat I use solely for work purposes.
Talk to other self-employed individuals.
It’s easy to isolate when you’reself-employed. Fight this urge by connecting with other freelancers andbusiness owners. Most cities and communities have self-employed groups oralliances; others will have co-working spaces for remote workers to convene.Even professional networks cater to various forms of employment.
Find your community so that you can share grievances,strategies, and advice. If anything, this community can also help you networkif you’re keen to keep on moving in the industry.
Above all, remember that you are capable of creating meaningfulwork, no matter the type of employment you embrace.