3 Signs That The Contracting Life is Not For You

1.2.2014, Written by Andrew Kandels
Creative Commons image via Flickr User slworking2

We have all heard the legends of freelancers and contractors who work from home in their PJs.  But the worlds of remote electronic freelancing (code, writing, graphics etc) is different from the world of on-site contracting.

Contracting work is extremely rewarding and can be incredibly lucrative when you do it right. Successful contracting requires hustle, expertise and a customer-focused mindset.

Here are 3 signs that the On-Site Contracting Life is not for you.

  1. You’re Usually Late.  After a while the exceptions (unanticipated traffic, flat tires, alarm malfunction, etc) stop being exceptional. We live in an ever more immediate world.  From downloads to driving directions, immediacy is important. Regularly arriving late to contracting gigs starts you and your client off on the wrong foot and damages your credibility and personal brand.  So wake up 15 minutes early, set your clocks ahead by 10 minutes (no cheating!) and don’t forget to account for traffic!
  2. You’re Mostly Disorganized.  Contracting can be a lot to juggle, especially when moving between several locations a day.  But contractors have to keep their stuff together.  Whether moving between work sites or remembering to check-in and document your deliverables, having a personal organizing system is vital. At Field Nation, payment is tied to successful completion of the work order.  Successful completion of the work order is tied to required deliverables.  That documentation is important for provider records as well as your own proof of work.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal on the day you’re doing it, but in 12 months, that deliverable will be the only thing that you and the provider can point to that proves you were there and did the work.  So develop an organization strategy that works for you.  Use your cell phone camera to document before and after photos of your work, give yourself voice notes with your phone or personal digital voice recorder.  If you must, use paper, pen and a clip board (then file it as soon as you get back to your home base!)
  3. You Regularly Lose Your Temper. Contracting can be an extremely high-stress job; especially when you’re in a time crunch (see #1 above). Flying off the handle on a job site is not ever going to help resolve the situation or help people see things from your point of view.  It’s human to get frustrated and sometimes we really do get the short end of the stick.  But successful contractors have to keep their game-face on all the time. Documenting the situation (see #2) helps to establish the facts surrounding your point of view.  Keeping calm while identifying problem areas and how you would like to see them resolved does more to engender support and empathy than kicking into a Hulk-Rage.

Bonus: You don’t plan for the dry spell. If money flies out of your pocket as soon as it lands there, contracting may not be the life for you.  Contractors regularly experience the feast-or-famine cycle of work.  Sometimes there is more work than you know what to do with, other times it seems like no one needs anything.  So planning for the slow times during the fast-and-furious times helps keep everything running smoothly.

Hat Tip to Forbes who recently came out with this article on warning signs you’re not cut out for freelance work.

Image cite: http://www.flickr.com/photos/slworking/7981594299/sizes/l/