What in your opinion are the key milestones/steps to take before taking the leap and going fulltime freelance?
I've been freelance for over a year now but still work full time... so my freelance work is done on the evenings and weekends. Work is steady but there are times that I'm turning away work because I don't have enough time to complete some projects while working full time. I've built a steady customer base and have a lot of regular clients, but the idea of going out on my own is a scary one. I need to make sure I'm 100% ready and prepared for making the big final step. I would appreciate any advice from others that have been in the same position, how they made the transition, any tips, should i go part time first, etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Find and craft your purpose. That will get you traction and help develop a clear differentiation. Most people want to freelance just because they want independence, to be their own bosses, etc. None of these will get you loyalty or very far in terms of excellence. So I would ask myself: what is it that I would love to solve for XX customers? What is their big problem that they are willing to pay me for? Then develop your services around that.
It is a big leap. Complete a real business plan and pay yourself before starting and then take the leap.
I'm still doing both! I think you have to feel the time is right for you. We could all give an answer, but what works for one of us doesn't always work with others. Being a writer is a different perspective. A lot of writers work as freelancers for cash flow and contribute so much time a week to work on their own projects. Be comfortable with where you are and know what you can afford to do. I had the opportunity to work in this field full time, so took it. Be ready and get yourself ready. Approach it from your perspective and not another writers, again all lives are different and built around accomplishing different things during any given day.. I hope that helped. Maybe, it sounded like I should go into being a politician! lol
Lots of good comments here already, especially the "You will never be ready", it's like having kids, if you wait for the perfect time, it will never happen.
My advice is that you've got to be able to charge a rate that keeps you afloat. More jobs don't equal more money if your rates are too low. Clients will come and go, so steadily improving yourself and charging a commensurate rate will lead you upward. If you are B2B, nobody wants cheap, they want good work that helps them to achieve their own ends.
Sometimes there is a clear tipping point where your out of hours work inevitably creeps into "The Day Job". Other times ot just has to be a punt, and see if its a go'er.
Best of luck whichever way you go!
For work that you need to turn away, I would build up a contact base of persons that you could delegate work to and have the persons also delegating work to you, by that means you would be able to go full time as freelancing. Not only a DB with customers. You would have to have good contacts with the persons that you are in contact with. Currently I am in the same position, but, trying to choose between freelance or full employment, currently full employment is more for me, until I can cover at least the next 12 months with projects.
Get your mind right; why are you wanting to do it, who will be affected by it and what/who will keep you motivated.
First, call yourself a consultant and you'll get paid more and businesses will think you are worth more. Second, you'll never be totally ready. Just go for it and make it work. Let me know if you need help. I'm happy to help.
Free lance or employed are not that different at a certain level.
Their is no perfect answer to your question, but their are some pro and cons that you have to figure out for your self.
Being employed involves a certain degree of stability and a fixed pay check. But, in many industries / markets a drop of the market or a bad decision at corporate level like a sale of the company can get you in the same cold spot as missing clients as a free lancer.
As a freelance, you are making the first steps in becoming your own company. You will not have the janitor, HR and Engineering team to help you because you are all of that in some point. It is rewarding and challenging at the same time but should worth the time and effort due to grater benefits.
Regarding several advice's read, it is true that is not so good to go head front without precaution, but also it is a well known fact that as more you gain the more you spend so their is no specific sum that will ensure you the right stability to make the leap.
The secret is to evaluate your overall expenses, ensure a buffer for a comfortable period of time 1-6 months, ad at least 15% to that ( like when you build a house and evaluating cost on the current market), and start.
The skill that you need to develop is discipline. Ensure the same discipline and more in offering your work to others, keep it real regarding the possibility to offer results in a timely manner, be fair and truthful, learn to say "NO" gracefully and evaluate you situation from time to time.
The calculation is simple, evaluate how much time would you have, considering the money left/provisioned to get, in order to continue or get a stable job. Without giving up anything already achieved like a vacation, parties, a new car etc. It's all up to you.
best of luck.