Ideally, even in a shaky economy, a successful freelancer should be able to climb the ladder high enough that she can eventually afford to hire help—even if that “help” is just a house cleaner and a dog walker! Once you start juggling lots of on-demand work, it’s a smarter move to pay someone else to do the little stuff…and another somebody to do the medium-sized stuff. Before you know it, you’re no longer a freelancer; you’re running a small business.
For some this is the ideal, but it is not inevitable. First, you should question whether becoming a business owner is really your end goal. For many, that kind of logistical headache may not be on the docket. If it is, though, you should take steps to make sure you’re ready to transition from being your own boss to being the boss.
While you don’t need to employ others to further your career, for some, it is the next logical step. At what point do you involve a secondary worker in the process? Well, it depends on what types of services you offer.
Creative types—artists, writers, designers—often find it just as lucrative to focus on their own craft as it would be to manage other creatives. Running a business usually means less time “doing” and more time “overseeing” so, for the freelancer whose joy comes from creative expression, this can be a problem.
For someone whose goods are tangible, however, expansion can bring exciting possibilities. Rather than solo knitting handmade sock puppets in your garage to fill Etsy orders, you might hire three other knitters to produce while you handle the books and the marketing.
Likewise, those who offer services (like repairs or errand running) could bring on others to tackle the tasks that don’t fit their schedule, charging a fee for the referral.
Of course, the shift from freelancer to employer isn’t for everyone, but if you have the ambition, temperament, and the willingness to get your ducks in a row, it can be the decisive step between being “just you” and being the boss you always wanted to be.
Overall, it’s a good time to dream big in the freelance world. Draw up a plan and see how feasible it is to invest in an assistant. Start small—virtual assistants are now only a click away—and see what the future brings.
So, for those of you who’ve already made the leap, how has it worked for you? How does it feel to be the boss? What advice do you have for up-and-coming freelancers?