Making the Transition from Full-Time Employee to Full-Time Contractor

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

Switching from being a full-time employee to being a freelancer can be extremely liberating – and a bit terrifying. Though working for yourself gives you control over the work that you do and your output, it also requires adjustments to your work habits and lifestyle. Knowing what to expect can help to alleviate challenges during your career transition.

Prepare Details in Advance

Take care of as many preparation details as possible before leaving your full-time job so you can be productive on your first day as a work-at-home freelancer. Make sure your computer hardware and software are working properly, and that your Wi-Fi reception is adequate for your needs. Stock up on office supplies or materials that you may need to do your job. Update your website, or build one if you currently do not have an online portfolio. Consult with any professionals that you may need, such as an attorney to draw up contracts or an accountant to help with bookkeeping.

Find Work

One of the most important tasks to tackle before quitting your full-time job is obtaining clients. Landing clients can be challenging, and it can take some time to build up enough work to maintain a steady income. Determine the type of projects that fall under your expertise. For example, if you are a writer, you may write blog posts and articles but not product descriptions. Once you have established these parameters, start working side gigs in the evenings and on weekends. Avoid giving notice at your full-time job until you have enough freelance work to sustain your financial needs.

Financial Changes

The desire for flexibility and control over the type and amount of work that you do are common reasons for giving the freelance lifestyle a try. However, working for yourself requires a lot of discipline and a willingness to make some changes to your lifestyle. For example, having a savings of at least three months of living expenses is imperative, since that regular employee paycheque will no longer exist. Some clients will likely pay late, and there can be times when business will be slow. Staying on top of your finances and preparing for challenging times can mean the difference between making it and breaking it as a freelancer.

Understand the Details

There are numerous aspects regarding your benefits that are a given when you are a full-time employee. For example, taxes are automatically taken out of your paycheque, but as a freelancer, you will be required to make income tax payments on your own. Unemployment is also usually made available when your job is lost through no fault of your own, but this is not the case when a freelance project ends. Canadian law does allow you to access special needs Employment Insurance) in case you become ill or pregnant, or if a family member becomes sick and you are their primary caretaker.

References & Resources

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