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Five Traits you Need to Be a Successful Freelancer4 min read

March 29, 2018

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Five Traits you Need to Be a Successful Freelancer4 min read

Freedom is the new definition of wealth for an emerging group of independent workers.  The gig economy is growing. By 2020 40% of the US workforce will be freelance according to a study published by the Freelancer Union.

And Co talked to over 300 freelancers to study the future of work and learn everything about this new breed of independent workers. The findings are interesting.

Over 40% of them responded that they were planning on freelancing for the rest of their career

A majority of freelancers we surveyed, 77%, admitted they’re not more financially stable since going independent but 68% of respondents said their quality of life has improved since going independent

Over 90% of them answered that they offered multiple services or products as they had multiple passions and skills. That’s why And Co named them “Slash Workers” in the most recent study.

Going solo often means leaving the structured life as an employee behind. The freelance lifestyle requires lots of different skills and traits. Here are our top five:

1. Willingness to Do the Hard Things

Don’t wait until you’re “ready”. Chances are you’ll never feel fully prepared and ready to start your business. Going out there and talking to people about your business will be uncomfortable but will give you the necessary feedback to come up with services that people really want. Sales will give you the runway to build your business. As a freelancer, you are in control of your own income and growth. In many cases, this means the willingness to stretch yourself and be uncomfortable.

“Get used to being uncomfortable. That’s where all the growth happens.”

2. Learn as You Go

Don’t use learning as an excuse for inaction. Just like it is okay to get trained as a regular employee you can allow yourself to learn on the job as a freelancer as long as you do a good job with your clients. Learning can be part of the project. Don’t postpone sales because you feel like you need to know it all in advance.

3. Self-Awareness and Self-Management

One of the hardest things about being a freelancer is self-management:

Managing your own motivation.

Managing your own workload.

Managing your own time.

“I have always been a high-performer in the traditional system. I met deadlines. I worked towards goals. I was highly productive. But suddenly, there was nobody to motivate me. No deadlines unless I set them. No team-members to compete with except myself.” – freelancer in the And Co community

If you browse the Internet you’ll find millions of articles written about the perfect morning routine and productivity hacks by entrepreneurs.

We’re obsessed with self-management and productivity because we HAVE TO BE.

Our pro tip for managing your productivity is tracking your time: you can use the free AND CO app to track how much time you spend on each task.

Tracking your time will make you aware of where you waste time and which distractions you need to get rid of.

4. Managing Your Finances

Making money is one thing. Managing money is the other thing.

As a freelancer, you are in control of how much money you make but don’t forget that you’re also in charge of sending invoices, writing contracts, and filing your taxes. It requires discipline and expertise.

Fortunately, we live in a digital age where all the information you need is available at your fingertips.

What used to be a full-time job involving lots of paperwork and knowledge can now be done online with a few clicks and pre-written templates with tools like AND CO it has become a lot easier for freelancers to manage their business.

It does everything you need: track your time, send invoices, track expenses, receive payments, etc.

So to conclude on this point: YES, you have to be your own accountant but it’s really not as overwhelming as it used to be.

Check out AND CO’s free invoice templates here.

5. Resilience

Managing client expectations is vital in the freelance business. Setting milestones and delivering projects on time and on budget is key to keeping clients happy. However, even if you do your best you’ll almost inevitably lose contracts or fail at projects at some point. The ability to deal with failure is an essential trait that any freelancer will need for a successful career. Resilience is the key to happiness as an independent worker.

You need to have the ability to separate your identity as a person from your success at work.

All in all, freelancing is an incredible personal journey. It will force you to push your boundaries every single day. It will give you the freedom to do what you love. It will force you to learn discipline, self-awareness, and resilience; but who wouldn’t want to master these life-skills anyways?

Eva Reder is a growth hacker, consultant, and startup mentor based in Silicon Valley. She's an ambassador & community manager for And Co and serves as the Program Manager for Manos Accelerator via Google Launchpad.

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