On the Edge of a Tafoni Cliff

Striking it out on your own involves taking a monumental leap of faith. It doesn’t matter how much confidence you have in your skills as a graphic designer, freelance writer, business consultant or wedding photographer; you can never really know how successful your small business will be until you take the plunge into the great unknown. It can be a very scary experience, but you hope that you’ll get into a groove and the fear of failure will go away. Well, let me let you in on a little secret: it doesn’t.

Working Without a Safety Net

In chatting with a friend of mine a while back, he said he has always wanted to go into business for himself on a full-time basis. After much careful thought and consideration, he took that leap of faith. He submitted his notice to his employer and is leaving the relatively safe confines of the 9-to-5 in pursuit of the freedom of freelancing.

He’s afraid and understandably so. With his regular job, he could expect to receive a paycheque for the same amount of money every couple of weeks, guaranteeing that he’d have food on the table and a roof over his head. By taking the freelance route, he understand there is no guarantee of a stable income. Even if you have the good fortune of having regular clients on a monthly retainer, they could fall off the map unexpectedly and without notice, leaving a gaping void in your income statement.

It Gets Better, Right?

The hope and prayer is that after you’ve taken the first several months (or even years) to establish yourselfs, after you’ve built up a respectable portfolio and reputation, the business will come to you. Again, that may be true to a certain extent, but one wrong move could ruin everything. You could swing from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of moments.

You worry about staying motivated after that initial jolt of enthusiasm. You worry about whether you’ll be able to handle all the other aspects of running a business, like the accounting, marketing and tech support. You worry about whether you made the right choice, despite all the risks involved. Some of these concerns fade with each passing year, but the money issue always lingers.

Living on the Brink of Disaster

When you’re in business for yourself, as would be the case when you freelance, it can feel like you’re always walking right along the edge of a cliff. No matter how confident you are with each stride, there is always the thought in the back of your mind that your next step could be your last. It might not even be your fault, because one of those rocks could unexpectedly give way. Everything could come crumbling down, no matter how hard you work to maintain this delicate balancing act.

Yes, a good deal of fear can accompany running your own freelance business. And yes, you definitely feel more of this fear when you’re first starting out. You do build up more confidence with each step that you take, even though you know that you’re only one misstep away from deathly peril. But you know what? While you’re walking along the edge of that cliff, the amazing view will take your breath away.