So. You have studied and eventually graduated? Congratulations, you are among the roughly 500k Kenyans graduating from our colleges and universities every year. Usually, the feel good lasts only a few days after graduation. You hit the streets searching for a job and realize there aren’t as many jobs. Nothing stretches the soul like the desperation for a job search. However, the sad reality of the economy we have made for ourselves is that it won’t create those jobs we so much need. What then was all the studying and training all about? Tough! There is however a bright side in all these. You have a qualification and some important skills. Employers may not be willing to take you up but doesn’t mean they don’t need your skills. It is upon you to find ways to commercialize that skill set you have. However just like all other businesses, you need to be driven more not by the desperation or fear but by the opportunity, potential and excitement to accomplish things. You have to be driven. Are you? You can. Here is a free invitation for you to join the freelancing industry.
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing is a self-employment option where a qualified person sells their skills and professional services to buyers especially other businesses (but also individuals) who would otherwise not be able to afford those same skills under an employment contract or may not need them over a long period which would necessitate employment. While in other economies freelancing is a matter of choice, our economy doesn’t afford us that luxury. For us it is out of necessity. Freelancing often entails operating under the most minimum costs and overheads. All a freelancer needs is only the basic of tools of trade which in most cases is only a laptop. Work can be done from the comfort of your single room. Don’t sit there brooding about lack of jobs or taking menial jobs that will under employ you. You got an advantage, you are trained and qualified. Let’s make good use of you. For that to happen however, here are some tips on how to crack it.
1. Be Competent
Competency involves mastery of the technical know-how of your area of work. You must know and be able to get stuff done. In most professions there are level of qualifications and attendant certifications that prove you are qualified. Yeah! That’s the certificate, diploma and degrees you earn. But beyond the papers on the subject matter, you need to really be able to provide solutions in a problem context. You must have mastery of methodology and tools in systematically solving problems and making it worthwhile to your clients. Competency also involves personal management; your attitudes, values, leadership etc. How are your interpersonal skills, ability to network and shape personal relations etc? You got to crack out of that self-pity cocoon you locked yourself in after not getting a job. Find help in getting yourself started in self-employment. Never miss an opportunity to continuously learn and be current in your trade. Take up the right internship opportunities, volunteer and do probono work to sharpen your skills. Read and attend seminars. Simply Invest in yourself and develop your value.
2. Market Yourself
Many times I have found myself talking to groups of young people. Among every 100 youth is a substantial number of accountants, marketers, designers, HR professionals etc. Guys with skills we do not know. The good bible wonder what use it is to light a lamp and keep under the bed. Once you have decided to commercialize your skills, its always going to be important to market yourself. Never miss any opportunity to talk about what you can do and relate it to the needs of the audience. Accountants usually find themselves in groups where entrepreneurs are who can’t keep proper books. They may not know how or even why they have to keep the books. So talk about it. Show them why, stimulate the demand for your work. Same issue goes to auditors, marketers, lawyers, architects, engineers etc. the more you talk about your freelancing the more you will get other people talking about it. Brand yourself properly, have business cards and portfolios, network with industry practitioners (colleagues, professional bodies) and potential clients. It’s simple, we don’t know you, we don’t what you can do, we may even not know if we need you. Make us know then you will be in business.
3. Give Value
What your clients care for is that you help them solve their problems in a very cost effective way. If you market yourself properly and job assignments start to come in you had better be able to deliver what you promise. Are you able to make the client utilize the product of your work? Accountants, what does a cash flow mean to a carpenter? Marketers, how can you help a cake baker run a digital marketing campaign with a good conversion rate? Here unlike on salaries? You must earn your pay. Demonstrate how you can help grow revenues or save costs and you will in biz so long and so successful. Avoid taking a job unless you are sure you can do it real well. Otherwise you ruin your reputation and that of other freelancers.
The risk of being self-employed is you would easily find yourself operating in a silo. You need to find opportunities to collaborate with other freelancers both in your area of specialization and also in other disciplines. Sometimes big opportunities will come that you can’t handle alone. It helps to be able collaborate with other capable guys and try to get the job as a consortium or a syndicate. This will happen both in profession specific jobs or jobs that will require a varied range of disciplines. As a rule, it is advisable not to chew more than you can handle. Don’t take too many jobs than you can deliver. That is when you ship off those extra opportunities to those whom you collaborate with. It will happen that when you are on a dry run they will also return the hand. It pays also to play fair in the market, don’t sell short to beat your competitors. Play fair, it’s good for you now and also in the future. Selling short kills everyone and you soon after.
5. Be Formal
Freelancing is self-employment and a business for you. Therefore, get formal and regularized. Do you have the qualifications and the licenses needed? Do you belong in the relevant professional body? Have you formalized your hustle through registrations or incorporation? Do you keep the necessary documentation and business records books? Do you pay the necessary taxes?. Do you take jobs on written contracts? Do you issues invoices and stuff? I mean? If you are going to be supporting businesses then you will need to be organized as one. It will give huge confidence to your clients if they see you as such.
6. Manage Your Cash-Flows
You will need to overcome the greatest challenge facing most self-employment ventures; separation of yourself from the business. Pay yourself a salary and separate your income. You will need to cover your own costs like insurance e.t.c. separate from the business. It is important to get to know your break-even point. How many assignments do you need in a year, quarter or month to break-even? What value of assignments do you need in a year, quarter or month to break-even. Unless you know this, then you won’t know if it makes economic sense for you to freelance. Understand the market trends for your hustle, when is business high and when is it low? Save up and be ready to ride the low and high tides. Do a proper cash flow analysis and see the entire biz on a computer screen. Have a proper Customer Relationship Management system to keep tabs not only your current but also potential clients.
If you would like to know how you can get your freelancing hustle off the ground then here is an invitation. You will be surprised how many people would really be happy to help you do just that.
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