Why do freelancers usually not develop a business mindset?
Having interacted with a number of freelancers in North America, Canada and Pakistan along with other parts of the world, I have gotten the chance to know a variety of perspectives on how freelancing is viewed. Unfortunately, in our part of the world, the notion of freelancing has wrongly been associated with ‘quick money’.
As someone who has had the good fortune of enabling youngsters towards freelancing nationwide over the past decade, I tend to have a different opinion on this.
In my view, income is no measure of success especially for a young individual.
Unfortunately, a lot of young folks in Pakistan opt for freelancing in the quest to make money fast. Where freelancing has its own benefits, the approach of looking at it as a quick-fix needs to change.
Youngsters who aspire to develop a business acumen, must understand that they need to go through a certain process before they can start thinking like a business-person. A business mindset cannot develop until you yourself have been an employee to someone.
Until you have worked for people, until you have gone through the grill, you will never be able to bring discipline in your life and develop people management skills. Once you start practising this, that is when you get into a ‘service mindset’ – a prerequisite to start your own business or operate like one.
Nurturing these qualities, however, require work; they require years of experience, of exposure that you get through interaction with ‘real people’ – from your fellow employees to vendors, suppliers, customers to organisational leadership.
It is the continuous management of people across the spectrum that leads you to develop the right kind of ‘human skills’ to ultimately either serve as a high-quality freelancer with a sound business sense or a business-person.
So that brings us to the next question - What does it mean to have a 'business sense'?
Having a ‘business sense’ is being able to:
(a) Provide a very high ‘quality service or product’.
(b) Identify the right ‘market’. Do you know who your ‘customer’ is?
(c) Have the right ‘messaging’. Do you know the concept of personal branding? Do you know the importance of why people should work with you? Why should they come to you on repeat?
All of these things combined will turn you into an individual who can claim to have business sense.
Why is freelancing not a career?
Freelancing is not a career, it is a good “side” income to have.
If you are a startup founder, for example, who is building a company from ground up and wants to add some income to his or her home errands, freelancing is a suitable option for you. But if you’re someone who just wants to jump into freelancing thinking that this will build your career, you’re being delusional.
While it is a viable solution to start the cycle of income generation, there are certain downsides to it:
- You will always have to keep working yourself as it is highly dependent on you, your time and your availability. Your income will never get on auto as it is directly proportional to the number of man hours.
- Income will be irregular and sporadic. The entire process of bidding for projects along with high chances if some clients are not paying on time, increases the factor of uncertainty.
- Your mental health will be negatively affected because you will be sitting behind a screen all day long without any real human connection.
Getting used to all of the above is detrimental for an individual who aspires to understand and practise the norms of doing business.