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Is Freelancing Right For You? Balancing Commitments of Home and Personal Finance

written by: wearmanyhats•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/28/2011

Everyone would love to go to work in their pajamas. But let's face it, if the boss won't let you work from home, should you break away to make a living as a freelancer? Here are some things you should know about freelancing and balancing your work life.

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    There are a number of great reasons why someone might want to strike out on his/her own and become a freelancer. There's the casual dress, flexible hours, and no hassles with a boss. All of these factors can lure people out of the corporate world. But should you take the plunge? Here are some important considerations before turning in your resignation.

    First, building up a freelance portfolio of clients can take time, unless you can bring a busload of these clients with you from a former work situation. Therefore, if you are the sole breadwinner in the family, you might think about starting your business in your spare time first. You also need to consider health care costs if you are currently getting insurance benefits through your employer. Finally, remember to budget in your retirement benefits as well. All of this needs to be taken into account before breaking off to be your own freelancer.

    Second, do you have a home office? Although it can be inexpensive to set up an office, you can not run a viable business where your children can answer the phone. The most successful home offices have a door that can shut out the noise from the rest of the house. It’s not enough to think that since your children are in school during the day, the whole house can be your office. After all, there are in-service days, sick days and vacations to consider. Another aspect is if you have small children. Do you have a sitter to watch them while you are working? Only a part-time, flexible freelance job will work if your goal is to work early mornings, nap times and late evenings.

    Third, are you truly self-motivated or are you the type of person that needs to be held accountable to a boss? It is critical to be honest with yourself about this because some people need a big, bad boss to watch over them. Working your own business means working longer hours initially, and that requires discipline. Part of that is to keep proper books, organize your jobs, and seek out knowledge of running a business.

    Finally, do you have the support of the people you love? Freelancing can sometimes be a feast or famine, and can try the patience of the most supportive spouse. Remember that no job is worth shattering your marriage. Be prepared that many people will think you don’t do a thing for a living and some gossip may get back to you. A thick skin will be your only defense, though business cards will help.

    If you can answer these concerns satisfactorily, then be prepared to enter a phase of your work life that can bring great rewards. Build a good team of professionals to help make you successful, give great service to your clients, and enjoy the freedom that will come to you. That freedom, after all, is one of the jewels in the riches of your life.