Choosing the right career path is a tough decision. Additionally, a lot of people wonder whether to pursue their career employed for a company or as freelancer. As is so often the case, both options have their pros and cons. So, to help you make the right decision, we have collected some of the most common advantages and disadvantages of both, working as a freelancer as well as being traditionally employed.
1. Freedom vs. Security?
One of the most common reasons for freelancing is the freedom that comes with it: You are your own boss and if everything goes well for you, you can freely determine how much you want to work and how much money you make. When employed for a company, these freedoms are often cut short by strict hierarchies that slow down your personal development. You either have to wait for an open position to get a promotion or you are simply stuck waiting for a raise that only comes along once a year.
While on the topic of money: It is probably the biggest reason that keeps people from being self-employed. As a freelancer, you don’t have a fixed wage that will magically appear in your bank account every month. You rather – literally – have to work for it: If you are sick, you won’t get paid. If you are on holidays, you won’t get paid. And if the industry is slowing down, guess what, you won’t get paid. If you are in a permanent employment contract, however, things are a bit different. You do have a fixed income and you know exactly when you will get paid next. Keep that in mind when starting your freelance business.
2. Flexibility vs. Fix Working Hours
Another positive aspect in freelancing is the flexible working hours. Nobody checks if you are at your desk or lounging in the park with your laptop on your knees. You can start as early or as late as you want and as soon as you have completed a day’s worth of work, you are free to go wherever you want. Unfortunately, though, the same is true for the other extreme: If there is work to be done and deadlines to be met, it doesn’t matter if it’s a public holiday, the weekend or your vacation. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it is certainly a possibility.
On the other side, you are met with fixed working hours when being employed. Your employment contract clearly states the number of hours you will have to work per week, how much vacation time you have and how you are being compensated in case of over time or occasional weekend responsibilities. This allows you to have free time without having to check your work phone and enjoy completely switched off holidays.
3. Working Alone vs. the Benefits of a Team
Many freelancers are not only delighted to be their own boss, but to also skip running decisions past team members or other departments. Especially if you are working in a big company with many different people and characters working on the same project, it can become a bit draining to consult a large number of people before finalizing your work. On top of that, it is a reality that you probably won’t get along with all of them. Difficult conversations and conflicting opinions are part of teamwork. But since you tend to work by yourself when freelancing, you can directly communicate with your clients.
However, not having a team to brainstorm with is often the reason for freelancers to join co-working-spaces or to find a way to digitally talk to other people in the same position. It can be extremely helpful to get a different perspective or simply have a second opinion to base your results on before sending it out to your client.
Additionally, as a freelancer, you are the only person responsible for both the successes as well as the failures of your business. When employed, you are often working in a team and are being guided by a team leader, who is taking the heat when something doesn’t go as planned. Even if you happen to work in a company where you don’t have any direct team members, it is still nice to have the opportunity to chat with other people. And at the end of the day, lunch tends to taste better when not had alone.