How to Transition from the Corporate World to Self-Employment

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How to Transition from the Corporate World to Self-Employment

Jun 17, 2021

Tens of millions of Americans have become freelancers in recent years. While this includes those who are simply looking for a side gig, many are steering into the self-employed lifestyle as a full-time career pivot. In fact, in 2019 it was reported that nearly a third of freelancers were working full time.

Add onto that the endless stream of individuals who are always dreaming of starting their own business, and there are a lot of people considering the self-employed lifestyle these days.

If you’re making the transition from the corporate world to a self-employed position — or even if you’re just thinking about it — here are a few tips and suggestions to help you navigate the change successfully.

Make Sure You Really Want to Be Self Employed
There are many reasons you may want a new job. You may find that you’re chronically stressed out, you dread going to work, or you’re always complaining about your current position.

Just because you’re unhappy, though, doesn’t mean self-employment is the answer. A self-employed lifestyle is unique, demanding, and even unsettling at times. It comes with its own share of challenges and is never something that should be taken on lightly.

If you’re feeling the need for a professional change, ask yourself the following questions to see if the self-employed route is the best option:

● Are you craving more creative freedom or the ability to follow your passions?
● Do you thrive with a flexible or a predictable schedule?
● Are you alright with financial instability at times?
● How important is having independence in your professional life?
● Do you have the financial acumen and administrative capabilities to run your own business?
● Do you have that entrepreneurial drive that can help you overcome obstacles?

This self-inquiry may feel unnecessary, especially when compared to many of the logistical concerns in the following section. However, seriously considering the freelance and self-employed lifestyle is ground zero for making it work in the long run.

Questions like these can help you figure out if freelancing or some other self-employed option is the right choice. If you find that this is, indeed, the case, then read on.

Lay the Transitional Foundation First
Many factors go into successfully launching a career as a self-employed person. Here are a few of the most important areas to address before you leap:

Your Client Acquisition Tool Kit
As a freelancer or business owner, you’re going to need to acquire your own clientele. If you’re opening a storefront or starting a similar business, make sure that you have a firm grasp on what marketing tactics will work in your industry. This can include things like:

● Building a company website. Take some web design classes so you can save money by doing this yourself.
● Finding influencers who will work with you.
● Investing in search engine optimization (SEO). You can also do this yourself unless and until you no longer have the time to devote to its details.
● Networking and building word-of-mouth marketing for your new enterprise.

If you’re freelancing or offering a service as a solopreneur, you’re going to want to prepare a job-hunting toolkit that includes:

● Your resume.
● A cover letter template.
● Your portfolio.
● A personal website.

Whether you’re striking out on your own or launching a larger business, make sure to strategize how you’ll market yourself to new clients and customers.

Your Finances
Finances are another area that can catch many self-employed individuals by surprise. No matter how good you are at your craft, if you aren’t ready to address the administrative side of your business, you won’t be able to last for long. Basic self-employed financial preparation includes:

● Opening up a bank account that is separate from your personal finances.
● Creating a budget that helps you live below your means while you build your income.
● Saving up an emergency fund to help you survive any periods of slow business revenue.
● Drafting invoicing templates, income spreadsheets, and other financial documents to help you track your business finances.
● Calculating how much money you should set aside for your quarterly tax payments.

Your finances may feel like an afterthought as you focus on client acquisition and finding work. However, you want to establish a solid financial footing, right from the get-go if you want your self-employed adventure to succeed.

Your Skillset
Consider your skills, as well. Do you have all of the skills required to launch out on your own?

Start by reviewing your talents and abilities as they pertain to your career. Are you a master of your craft with an established reputation or do you need to hone some of your professional abilities to help you stand out against the competition?

Also, think about your business mindset. Are you equipped with the knowledge to run your own company, even if you’re the only employee?

If you find that you’re lacking in either area, evaluate what steps you can take to fill the skill gaps in your own career. Can you go back to school to get an MBA to help you with your entrepreneurship or another needed area of expertise? Getting an MBA can help you learn interpersonal skills you can leverage to glean information from an industry professional who you look up to. Do you know anyone who has blazed the self-employed trail before you and can share their experiences as a mentor?

Whatever the solution, look for ways to fill out your skillset so that you’re ready to handle the pressures and demands of a self-employed career.

Making the Leap
Shifting from a corporate atmosphere to a self-employed one can be jarring, intense, and dramatic. However, if you take the time to check your motives and plan out the logistics, you can minimize many of the common stressors that come with launching a self-employed career. This will free you up to focus on the positive and put your best foot forward and you take your future into your own hands.

Meet The Author:


Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger.

The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

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