When you trade your day job for a freelancing career, you give up a regular flow of income in exchange for greater professional freedom. And with nearly 70% of U.S. workers finding themselves not engaged at work, you can’t really be faulted for deciding to go solo.
However, just because you’re avoiding a regular office setup doesn’t mean you get to leave everything behind. Some practices and habits that you’ll develop in a regular job can actually be applied to freelancing. After all, you’ll still be working and communicating with other people. Here are just three lessons from a regular job that can help you develop as a freelancer:
1. Act Assertively
To work with other people effectively, you have to learn to speak up. As a freelancer, you’ll have no-one else to speak on your behalf and support you. So you have to work on your self-confidence and learn to communicate clearly and concisely. Luckily, this is something you can learn with practice. If you have a hard time with this try reading up on assertiveness there are plenty of useful assertiveness guides out there with lots of tips and tricks. Basically, you have to learn to value your own opinions, needs, and desires. Your collaborators, clients, and competitors will always put their interests in front of yours—unless you assert yourself and do something about it. It doesn’t matter if you feel what you’re getting underpaid, overworked, or just misunderstood. Do yourself a favor and say what’s on your mind.
2. Curb Your Emotions
Keep in mind that assertiveness doesn’t equate to aggression. This can be hard to remember. When a project doesn’t go the way you planned it’s perfectly normal to feel angry and frustrated. But outright expressing your emotions could sour business relationships and make you lose valuable clients.
Handling your own clients directly might seem liberating at first, but make sure you can stay calm and composed. Working alone, you won’t have any insulation or safety net to rely on when things go south. So always stay polite and reserved with your clients. Aside from helping maintain professional relationships, this also makes you appear more professional and knowledgeable in your field.
3. Set Reasonable Expectations
Increased flexibility means you’ll be able to choose your own workload and schedule. This level of flexibility can be both a blessing and a curse. After all, it can be tempting to take on as much work as you can, without even considering if you can deliver it in the time frame required.
Remember that there will always be a limit to how much work you can get done. Don’t overcommit and risk signing a contract you can’t fulfill. You need to learn to manage your workload. As a freelancer, you won’t have a ready colleague to help you pick up the slack. This means you need to have a good measure of what you can or can’t achieve within a specific amount of time. Also remember you’re much more likely to get a recommendation from a client where you deliver top quality work, and you can’t do that when you have overcommitted yourself.
Though you may be freelancing to escape the daily grind, don’t overlook important lessons from full-time jobs. From acting assertively to evaluating your own workingload, having a regular job can teach you quite a bit about freelancing.