Whether you call it “freelancing” or “working independently” or “self-employment”, the basic question is: Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team? If you have decided to work independently for yourself, then what skills do you actually need?
In addition to the skills in your specialty, you must have some kind of talent for managing yourself, your clients and your work. When I look at some experienced independents and successful self-employed, I recognize some skills that they all share.
The followings are the necessary skills that I truly believe you need to have to be able to work independently:
1. Organizational skills
Probably you do not have an assistant to answer the phone, to make some copies or to remind you of urgent appointments, etc. For that reason, a certain degree of organizational skills is an essential requirement to know where everything is and to be able to do and finish everything on time. Do not forget that it is about your own carrier, so you must create your very own structure as well.
2. Multitasking ability
If you want to earn some (more) money, you often must do several things at once. You cannot just do and finish one project and then you start to look for your next projects. You will always have to run through a constant cycle of self-promotion and do your work, and doing your self-promotion while you work. A multitasking ability is definitely a must-have skill you’ll have to own.
The springtime could possibly influence your work as much as it did when you were inside the four walls of your boss’s office building. Therefore, you should be able to tell yourself when it is time to work, to actually sit behind your desk and to really start working. There is always enough time to go to the beach as long as you make enough of billable hours.
4. Communication skills
How do you tell a customer that his taste is very horrible? Or how do you ask your client to pay his unpaid bills? Do it very carefully! Many people choose to work independently because they think that they can say exactly what they think. It will definitely amaze you how you should communicate tactically when your salary depends on it. An honest but tactless opinion is an expensive luxury that you actually cannot afford.
5. Ability to compromise
Most people choose to work independently in order to be able to set their high standards. But what is really going to happen in reality? Compromising is a very important aspect if you want to keep clients happy and satisfied about your work and services. I don’t think that there is an independent or a freelancer who’s been able to finish a project without making at least one compromise.
In my experience, there is (almost) no project that starts and ends exactly on time. Some clients cancel projects or they change their priorities and demands. The list is endless. Always be flexible about it. One fun part of working independently is having the variety of projects and plans. As you know, it is also a part of the challenge.
7. Ability to deal with rejection and not to take it personally
Some fellow independents say that they have to make at least ten phonecalls to make one lead. Sometimes you have to contact some potential clients more than three to five times before they sign a contract. Some of them reject your proposal with no obvious reason at all (at least none that makes sense). Learn to deal with rejections and do not take them personally. Remember, there are lots of other clients who want to work with you!
Reading recommendations on working for yourself: