Top Skills to be an Independent Professional - Becoming a Freelancer
You have heard of Independent Professionals boasting about lives of luxury, plenty of times off, the freedom to work when inspiration strikes and not before, no control-freak bosses, and to top that all - dream projects of their choosing. Before you decide to be one, become aware of what it takes to be an independent freelance professional.
Freelancing – someone who sells his / her services to employers or clients without a long-term contract. Independent professionals often deal directly with their clients. They usually do not have any staff and you frequently work for more than one client. However, Freelancing is not for everyone. Although the advantages are more than the potential pitfalls, not everyone can sustain that life.
Successful independent professionals start by evaluating their own skills and personality, most importantly the ability to work solo. Technical competence tops the list. But, few other competencies are equally important for a successful freelancing career. The top four are
1. Technical Skills
The most important is the technical skill, in the rea of your specialization. You can’t open a book during a client meeting. You either know or you don’t know.
2. Business Skills
Absolutely vital to have knowledge of fundamentals of business. No MBA needed but a basic knowledge of business models, finance, marketing and most importantly how to identify and fulfil the needs of the customer, are a must.
3. Organizational Skills
You need to be well–organized (especially for those routine administrative things). The next is your personal productivity. Find out what works best for you and stick to it. Understand your work cycle and when you perform at your best. Leverage it to the fullest. Make a work time-table, else you will find the whole 16 hours being taken up by just one or few activities leaving with little time for the other critical tasks or for personal time. Prioritization and robust calendar planning are the must.
4. People Skills
Freelancing looks like a life opportunity for the socially shy. Unfortunately, this could limit your opportunities more than you think. Productive interaction with (prospective) clients, presentations to them or meeting industry experts, will be a crucial part of your work-life, so try to be a little more socially active.
Apart from this, it will help you have some or most of these personality factors, namely, ambition, aptitude for problem solving, courage to go alone, a mature and positive outlook, strong communication and listening skills, value based work ethics, drive for perfectionism, professional attitude and self-confidence, just to name a few key ones. Apart from these, do think about having enough cash to sustain for minimum 6 months, ability to set up a home office, support and understanding of your loved ones.
Summary – Before taking the leap, become aware, understand and acknowledge the important skills and personality factors. Think once more – are you inspired to be a Independent Professional for all the right reasons ? Do a self-assessment on the above skills and personality factors. Be brutal. Be ruthless, in evaluating yourself. If you make a mistake here, you will get stuck in a situation, from which it will be painful to come out.