Saturday, February 07, 2009

Why is the success rate among freelancers so low!

Freelancing has been around for a very long time, and self employed professionals have been working from home (or from some place they prefer) for hundreds of years actually.

For millions of people, the ultimate dream is to work from home. And several thousand actually take the step each week. Just try a search phrase like 'work from home' on Google and you will see billions of search results! Most of them are designed to skim money off gullible people who try getting into freelancing in a hurry - and out of a sense of desperation. But then, not all of them are bad; there are some genuinely good opportunities out there, but thanks to the search patterns, they end up on page 1,865 of Google!

There we go again! We are off track and going somewhere else. Actually, in this article, I wanted to talk about why the success rate among freelancers is so low. If one is serious about getting into a work from home (or a freelancing) position, he will get through somewhere. But most of the people who got into freelancing are either cribbing that this won't work; or have gone back to full time work once more. The reason is actually very simple and can be defined in one phrase

  •  Lack of Priorities.

That is all.

I won't call it laziness, as that is also a result of a lack of priorities. There is a management theory called 'Carrot and Stick' which most of us must have come across some place. While working for an organization, either directly or subtly, the carrot and the stick come into play. However, while working at your convenience, you need to have the strength of character to actually put a carrot and stick for yourself. The most usual answer is 'Let's do it tomorrow - anyway I don't need to go to work'; and tomorrow never comes. The work keeps getting piled up, and the quality suffers when we aspire to do a whole bunch at one shot. Forget about the client complaining, our conscience tells us that we have done a shabby job and our self-esteem comes down one more bit. When this happens again and again, we start seeing ourself as a failure in the field, and once more out of desperation we get back into a full time job.

Now, prioritizing is not something new to us. When we worked full time, we prioritized our work ahead of everything else. The boss came up in front of wife, kids and everything actually. When we turn freelance, the first thing that comes to boil is the liberating sense of freedom. The feeling is nice, but immediately behind it are the monthly bills. With no secure paycheck to fall back on, unless we get serious from month one, things will start spiraling out of control, and the safe cushy job will beckon once more. All the dreams of freedom and independence fly out of the window, and the boss appears once more as the angel of mercy!

How do I know all of this? I have been freelancing for over 8 years now, and have gone through this cycle not once but dozens of times (I'm a little slow on catching up, you see!). If you are looking to get into freelancing, the best way would probably be to begin on the side along with your profession (Yes, it is tough, but is worth it) and then decide depending on the results.

There's lots of other things to talk about, but not now. Will talk some other day.

Kudos to all the freelancers who have struck this balance. 

Pic credit - Corbis

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