Being self-employed or working as a freelancer can be an excellent way to pursue a career you’re passionate about.
Not only you don’t have a boss breathing over your shoulder, but you also get to choose when and where you’ll work with the possibility of earning more.
But despite the upsides, being self-employed comes with its own issues and challenges. Being both the boss and worker means that you’ll have more on your plate than usual.
To hold down the fort, you need to be proactive and get yourself familiar with the most common issues affecting self-employed individuals and freelancers.
Here are seven common issues affecting self-employed and freelance individuals:
1. Finding more clients
Attracting more clients is vital for being a self-employed individual or freelancer. After all, your cash flow heavily relies on them.
Once you’ve completed a project, you’ll have to find another client or project to work on just to keep a positive cash flow. However, attracting clients is also an ongoing hustle, and it’s challenging to find more if you operate in a highly competitive industry.
To increase your chances of landing more clients, here are a few activities that you can do:
- Build and improve your online presence by optimizing your website
- Keep your social media profiles active and use them to advertise your products and services
- Write compelling blogs to establish your brand as an industry expert
- Take advantage of email marketing campaigns to increase your brand’s reach
- Ask for referrals
Word-of-mouth referrals can snowball your chances of landing new clients.
But the challenge is that aside from the fact that it takes time, you need to be extremely good at what you do. Otherwise, your existing clients wouldn’t bother recommending your services to others.
You can always encourage your clients to advertise your business by offering referral discounts or freebies for every referral.
2. Dealing with late payments
Unfortunately, late payments are a reality for many businesses. It’s even more common for B2B and service-based companies.
Being the boss and owner, you need to make sure that payments come on time to keep your finances above water.
Sometimes, late payments are because of simple disorganization. You might have invoiced your client late, or there may be some technical problem resulting in your clients receiving the invoice near or past the due date.
Either way, automation can easily solve disorganization.
If you’re self-employed, accounting software and tools can take the hassle of invoicing your clients off your hands.
Other advantages include:
- You can set it up so that your client will automatically receive the invoice after the delivery of goods or services.
- You can set up an alert to remind your clients to pay the invoice in case they forget or overlook your billing.
- It is helpful in computing and filing your taxes, including your deductibles.
3. Dealing with rude and difficult clients
Another challenge that frustrates self-employed individuals or freelancers is dealing with rude and difficult clients.
They may not communicate properly or expect too much to be done in such a short time. Some freelancers may even encounter clients that call or communicate outside your working hours for urgent updates and revisions.
While it’s difficult to spot a difficult client at the first meeting, you can avoid problems by communicating your boundaries from the very beginning. Be clear about your working hours – and stick to them. Ask them to call or contact you during those hours.
It’s hard to turn down a call or say no to clients, especially if you’re in the early stages of business, but it’s essential to set these boundaries to avoid misunderstandings in the future.
4. Time management
Being a freelancer or self-employed doesn’t just entail doing what you do best. You also fill different roles, like planning, marketing, sales, accounting, inventory, etc.
Each task can take time. Delegating and outsourcing talents requires money, which some businesses may not have.
The most important thing to remember when managing your time effectively is not to take on too much work. Many freelancers bit more than they can chew at some point.
List down all your clients and delegate a time for each. You can use apps to help allocate time to spend on each project.
Eliminate distractions (i.e., social media) and avoid procrastinating, as this can eat up so much of your time.
Despite the flexibility that comes with freelancing, working for yourself can get lonely and demoralizing.
Humans are naturally social beings. If you’re used to interacting and brainstorming with others in the office, the freelancing environment can feel isolating. This could significantly lower your morale and eventually manifest in the quality of work you deliver.
To remedy this, try working in a co-working space with other remote and like-minded people. Many coworking establishments also host events wherein you can socialize with other remote workers.
Another alternative is to meet with your clients personally. You can discuss the project, brainstorm ideas, and get feedback about your work. With that, you can stay motivated and inspired to do your job.
6. Lack of stability
There’s no sure way to tell what the future looks like for freelancers. While they may overflow with work in one month, they could find themselves with plenty of free time the next.
Once they finish a project with one client, there’s no assurance that another client will fill in the empty schedule. The lack of stability that freelancing brings can become a major deal-breaker for some.
But the good thing is, you can do something about it. As mentioned above, you can double your marketing efforts during your slow periods.
You can take advantage of email marketing to stay on top of people’s minds or reach out to your old clients. Social media also offers a way to engage and interact with your audience. Just be careful not to over-promote your brand.
Fluctuation comes with freelancing, but you can always do something about it.
7. Securing funding
Securing funding is one of the most common issues that freelancers and self-employed individuals face. Banks rarely extend credit to freelancers and startup businesses because of their risky nature.
The good news is, there are alternative lenders specializing in high-risk borrowing. They offer anything from lines of credit to standard business term loans. They may even work with businesses with low credit scores and short business history.
This makes it easier for freelancers and self-employed individuals to get the funding they need to grow and expand their businesses.
As a freelance or self-employed worker, you’ll encounter inevitable challenges that might let you question your decisions.
But know that, at some point, the most successful business owners and freelancers have been in your shoes, too. Instead of giving up, they pushed through. If they can do it, what’s saying you can’t do it too?
Challenges will always be a part of any career you choose. But to be successful, you need to learn to adapt and overcome. Knowing the common issues is the first step. Next, figure out a way to overcome it.
Finally, don’t lose hope. There will be struggles, but if you persevere, you’ll come out victorious in the end. Good luck!
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