Going freelance

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This is it! I’m finally starting this new chapter of my professional life I’ve been aiming at for such a long time. I still don’t fully realize I made the move, but it’s done. And I don’t plan to go back. Because I struggled to make the move, I figured it would be nice to explain the process I went through, and what helped me.

A long road

Throughout my career, I worked in 5 very different companies. From the tiny 2-person company to the 100+ employees companies, through the ultra-successful start-up. I worked in big and small teams. I learned to work with other developers, designers, and product managers. I helped to launch a few major products. I experienced bankruptcy and shutdown. I know what it feels to create an awesome product, what it feels to work with highly talented people or even what it feels to lose his job in one day. All that to say, I’m now armed with that experience and skills I learned along the way to face new challenges.

Since I ended my studies 8 years ago, my dream has always been to create my own company. I would have loved to do it with a friend after I finished school, but I moved to another country. Then 3 years ago I wanted to go freelance, but I moved to another continent. Now that I had a first work experience here in North America, I’m finally ready.

It’s not that I didn’t like my experiences as an employee, I really enjoyed them, I met amazing friends and I have wonderful memories. But I’m at a point in my career where I need to move on. I want more freedom. I want to organize my day according to my needs, go to work at 10 am or work remotely if I want to. And more than ever, I want to work on a really cool product or service with an awesome team.

Maybe I’m too picky, but I haven’t found a company that could bring all these benefits to me at the same time (well actually I have, but they’re not hiring). And if I cannot find what I’m searching for, my best alternative is to build it. And the first logical step for me was going freelance.

But isn’t it too risky?

There’s this belief that being a freelancer is riskier than being an employee. While there’s indeed a risk, it’s far lower than what you might think.

The cost of creating a company is ridiculously low compared to how much you will earn. In Canada, it’s even less expensive than an iPhone!

Finding a contract as a consultant in software development is really easy. Reach out to a recruiter and he will give you a list of opportunities with big clients in a minute. That’s the thing, you don’t have to start with a fully remote, ultra exciting and meaningful contract at first. I know you want that, I want that too. But you can start with a contract in a big company, which is easier to find and they generally pay you at higher rates, because they can afford it. This will allow you to put money in the bank and give you time to search for the next contract.

You will have to deal with accounting but you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Your accountant will handle things for you, everything or a part of it if you want to understand how it works. Don’t be scared by that part of the job. It’s not worth it.

Actually, the most important question you should ask yourself is if you’re able to manage your money. Not to spend everything and keep the money to pay your taxes. Many people get into serious trouble because they didn’t pay attention to their bank account. They didn’t keep 20-30% of their income for the taxes. That’s when things get really bad.

But even knowing that, I know it’s not easy to convince yourself you can do it.

Overcoming fear

During the past 8 years, I was afraid to make the move. I was always finding excuses. I’m too young, I don’t have enough experience, I’m about to move to Montreal, I just moved to Montreal, I’m not ready, blah-blah-blah. The truth is it’s never a good time.

The last excuse to date, I was thinking about buying a house. I’m over 30, I’ll probably have a baby soon, and everyone was telling me I should buy a house because it’s easy in Canada. The only problem is if you want to buy a house, it is strongly recommended to stay employed to get a loan more easily.

I got stuck with that dilemma of buying a house or going freelance for a few months. Until a friend asked me:

What do you want to say to yourself when you’re old? That you bought a house or that you had fun and created your own company?

A wise friend

This question had such an impact on me. From that point, I knew what I had to do. I immediately put the project of buying a house aside and I created my company. I know it may not be the most rational choice, but we have only one life. I want to spend mine by having fun and trying to fulfill my dreams, not by living someone else’s life.

Fuck that social pressure.

I struggle with it all the time. Whether it’s about getting married, having a kid, starting a business or even stop drinking alcohol. It’s so hard to fight against it. But we have to find what we truly want in life, not what society and norms expect us to do. For me, life is all about experiences, feelings, love, and friendship. Not about material goods.

And still, it almost got me.

And I know I’m not the only one in that position. A lot of my friends want to go freelance but they are afraid too. It takes a lot of time and effort to overcome our fears.

To Infinity and Beyond!

In the end, I’m happy I made the move. We’ll see where it goes from here. Going freelance is only the first step to fulfill my dream, but at least I climbed it. My goal is to create my own product or service and make a living out of it. It’s going to be a long road to get there, but one thing’s for sure, I have zero regrets!

If you’re in the same position I was a few weeks ago, struggling to make your decision, I encourage you to make the move. Don’t think too much as I did, just do it! If it can help, project yourself into the future, and look at what you’d like to have done in your life.

Better remorse than regret.

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