Diving into self-employment

Quit your day job or start freelancing on the side?

That rush of adrenaline when you finally decide it’s time to ditch your day job and work for yourself is hard to beat. You’re going to be the one in charge. No one’s going to tell you what to do (though, as we’ve explained elsewhere, don’t be under the illusion that you won’t have a boss anymore).

Now you have to make a decision. Do you stick it out at work and transition slowly to becoming self-employed – taking the odd piece of work on while doing the 9-to-5. Or do you throw caution to the wind, hand in your notice, and start your self-employment with a bang.

Although it’s tempting to do the latter, it’s rarely the best decision. Promises of work from old colleagues can soon turn out to be far from concrete. And when you’ve no longer got a regular payslip, paying the mortgage and other bills suddenly gets a lot more stressful.

The benefits of moonlighting

Instead, as with so much in life, it’s often best to take things slowly. Taking on freelance work while remaining in full-time employment has many benefits. Here are just five…

1. You’ll know how much work is out there

By doing a bit of moonlighting, you get a good idea of how much work is out there. Once you’ve got a few commissions under your belt, you’ll start to feel a lot more confident about the future. Remember, if you end up working for free to boost your portfolio, make sure you get a testimonial from your clients.

2. You’ll understand what it’s like to work for yourself

Yes, you’ll have your day job to contend with, but you’ll be juggling many more deadlines when you finally go fully self-employed.

3. It’s a test of your resolve

Do you really want to be self-employed, or are you just looking to escape from your day job? If your heart’s really in it, working a few late nights or weekends shouldn’t seem too much of a chore. Think of the bigger picture – it’s where you’re going that counts. If it all seems like too much work to work alongside your day job, maybe the world of self-employment isn’t for you – at least not just yet.

4. You’ll build up a portfolio

A collection of work that not only proves to yourself that you’re good at what you do, but also to prospective clients. It’ll increase your chances of getting new work and will also help you negotiate a better day rate.

5. You’ll earn more money

As long as you avoid working for free, the hard work you put in alongside your day job will earn you some extra money. And if you can stash this away now to cover any quiet periods when you go fully self-employed, that’s great (though we wouldn’t blame you for treating yourself to a reward or two for your hard work).

Slow and steady

So although it’s tempting to say cheerio to your boss and leap straight into full-time self-employment, by taking things slow you’ll increase your chances of making it a success. The next question is whether you tell your current employer that you’re freelancing on the side.

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