How to give yourself the best chance of success when you transition from full-time employment to self-employment

We were thrilled to be joined by award-winning digital product designer, Filippos Protogeridis, at the February edition of The Circuit. Filippos shared how he empowers innovators to achieve true financial and professional independence through digital design. 

Weren’t able to attend? Don’t worry, because below we have summarised his top five pieces of advice for anyone who wants to take the plunge and go solo - whether as a freelancer or a new business founder -  and the top five challenges that people who take the leap tend to face.

Top 5 pieces of advice for when you go solo:

  • Find people around you who are also working solo and facing the same obstacles and challenges. It'll really help your morale, motivation and wellbeing to be surrounded by people who are in the same boat.
  • Constantly invest in your personal brand: your website, portfolio, case studies, articles, LinkedIn interactions. These are all key tools to get who you are and what you do out there, and people will find them, so make them good!
  • Start slow, and start it on the side (while you have a steady job or contract). Jumping head first into a solo career without any fallback will only lead to anxiety and financial stress, and you need time to build up contacts, clients and funding.
  • Aim for key, long-term collaborations with clients. It's that age old adage - quality over quantity when you're starting out.
  • Find something that separates you from the rest (why should they hire you/buy into your product/service vs. the rest?), and something that makes you indispensable (why should they keep you/your product/service?). If you can't find that something easily, you might be targeting a very broad audience, so narrow it down to a niche that will give you clearer selling points.

Top 5 challenges when you go it alone:

  • Trying to transition too quickly, without a safety net. It's a common theme especially when people get fed up with their jobs and think that freelancing or starting their own business is the solution.
  • Stability with clients and finances. These are the main factors sending most people back to a 9-5. This is why Filippos always advises individuals to secure long-term clients and dedicate time to build strong relationships with them, rather than always trying to find new work and never feeling settled.
  • Time management and productivity. Time is the one investment that will always give back. Your time should be spent efficiently, and you should optimise it using software, apps, frameworks and techniques to increase your focus and output.
  • Negotiations & pricing, getting out of the hourly rate loop. This one's more for freelancers and entrepreneurs who provide a service. Your end goal should be to charge clients based on the value you bring. Starting with an hourly rate works, but you ideally want to transition to a monthly retainer model as quickly as possible.
  • Organising your finances from early on. It can be difficult, but if you don't do it while you are starting, you can guarantee it will be much harder once you grow.

For more information and advice on how to transition from full-time employment to self-employment, check out Selfstart, Filippos' brilliant platform that aims to educate and empower individuals to build their own careers.