Whether by personal choice or the result of a forced retraining in response to a social plan, more and more people are interested in the opportunity to freelance. Some throw in without preparation and see this trail as an opportunity to live a daily life with total freedom of choice and desires. Others hesitate and ruminate on their project without ever transforming it, held back by fear of this new world and its lack of benchmarks. The take-off runway may nevertheless be marked for both.
In the 18th century, freelancers were mercenary soldiers who praised their spear skills. Over the years, the notion of a mercenary has remained, and today, assigning a name of freelance to anyone who sells their skills for the duration of a defined assignment. Note that during the past decades, perhaps for the sake of francization, the term independent has often been used. Today, freelance has surely taken over in the movement of the anglicization of the vocabulary of the French language. According to the report of the study conducted by the American union Feelancers Union in 2017, 36% of the working population in the USA works in freelance status and if the progression curve does not weaken, in 2027, freelancers should represent the majority of the workforce in the country. In France, over the past 10 years, this status has increased by 145% to reach 1,000,000 members in 2019, i.e. 17% of the working population. The outlook indicates the 30% level reached in 2025.
Experienced profiles but not only …
The significant increase in the number of freelancers is probably linked to an unstable economic context where some see a possible way out of a professional situation that has become precarious while others, generations Y and Z, are more marked by the thirst for entrepreneurship. However, it is important to distinguish that having a professional experience of 30 years does not guarantee the ability to become a good freelance consultant. And conversely, having no experience can also pose some concerns in the development of your self-employed activity. The first will have to develop his capacities for analysis and advice, for adaptation to the contexts encountered, which are all different, rather than seeking to duplicate the recipe applied for many years within the scope of his salaried employment. The second will probably have to agree to work in teams, and submit to different rules and imposed working methods, a necessary step before being able in turn to claim to be autonomous in the organization of missions.
Desires for independence at all costs
Being able to manage your time and be your own boss are the main motivations for embarking on the adventure of freelancing. It does not matter, therefore, if the working hours exceed 35 hours per week and if the final pay is not always higher than that of a salaried position. What satisfaction to feel free, autonomous! But basically, is it enough to start a freelance to reach nirvana? If this were the case, it would of course be known! The relationship with the end customer is no longer that of an employee vis-à-vis an employer but of a subcontractor vis-à-vis a customer, with all the expectations of results that this may imply. Freelancers often work alone and uncertainty can be overwhelming in the decisions they must make, during an assignment or in their choice of assignments. Finally, the overall activity load is significant.
It is very often necessary to simultaneously provide its services to the end customer and seek answers to points, questions, problems not dealt with during the day.
You have to manage your travel and accommodation and advance the financial charges incurred while waiting for the payment of your service bill in 30 or 45 days. We must anticipate the research of the next mission, which may be even further geographically than the previous one, or present a more difficult context in terms of skills required or issues and risks. It is necessary to ensure its upgrades in self-training skills or to finance the courses and certifications oneself. But above all, you have to accept that you have no guarantee of remuneration for the following months. In summary, you have to know how to get out of your comfort zone, by being alone in the face of the decisions to be made, in order to be able to approach nirvana without ever having any guarantee of reaching it.
The steps to get started
Faced with so many uncertainties, some, and there are many, look for a partner before embarking, probably to spread the emotional load and fears associated with the business plan. However, looking for a partner should be reserved for projects requiring a significant capital contribution, because being a partner means above all to lose in your decision-making capacity and therefore in your independence. And the idyllic relationships between early associates can become burdensome and harmful over time.
This point is more important than it first appears and could in itself warrant publication. Going alone brings an additional ability to choose your business status. Thus, the status of auto-entrepreneur is perfectly suited to the initial situation. No capital investment, rapid online registration to obtain legal status as a sole proprietorship, a status which allows the preparation of invoices for services up to € 72,600 per year. Being a self-employed person allows you to get started in a freelance activity to understand the model, look for your first contracts and in some cases, maintain a salaried activity in addition to secure the process.
Then, for a more sustained immersion in the freelance world, it is possible to sign an employment contract with a porting company. Being “carried” brings a hybrid status of independent entrepreneur and maintains the social coverage of a traditional employee. Freelancers, most of the time, research their assignments, negotiate the sales rates themselves, organize their trips, and delegate to their carrier company the administrative charges for invoicing their services, the procedures for recovering late payments, etc. .
The portage company pays a salary by deducting a percentage of the turnover generated to cover their management costs. Being in a porting company makes it possible to advance in the model of entrepreneurship while keeping the social cover of the status of employee. Finally, in the end, when the activity is launched, the invoicing rates stabilized, the transition to a management or general management status can be taken into account.
It will then be necessary to choose the legal status of the company, to make a capital contribution (1 € is enough for certain statutes …), to choose an accounting firm, to organize the activities of services and management and to jump in the bath of boss 100% business. Social cover may vary according to the statutes, as well as taxation on the results. Choosing a business status requires a good understanding of legal, tax and social aspects. Being accompanied by a professional in these steps is strongly recommended. Being in society is the final step in entrepreneurship. It opens up new horizons such as recruiting a team and developing awareness of your own brand.
Find your first customers
But beyond making the right choice of your legal status, the project of becoming a freelance depends above all on your ability to find clients. Because without a customer, there is no turnover and therefore no remuneration. It is not enough to be registered in the commercial register and to have a web page and / or a Linkedin page to develop your client portfolio and develop your business. If this were the case, once again, it would know! Here too, a gradual approach is recommended.
The job of an opportunity hunter salesperson is not a complementary option to a job but a real technical skill coupled with unfailing optimism. It requires the acquisition of prospecting files, why not a CRM solution, but above all time, a lot of time … Also, it is much better to develop your indirect network to intervene in subcontracting. Thus, once referenced, you will only have to wait for buyers to come to you to use your skills on cases detected, monitored, negotiated and signed by their sales teams. Be careful, however, to be respectful of the commercial chain in your relations with the end customer. The client you are working with is not yours but that of the company that subcontracted you the business.
Your customer is and remains this company. Professional sectors are surrounded by ethical rules and commerce is based on a relationship of trust. Never take the risk of losing your client to take theirs. Everything always ends up being known and bad reputations are difficult to erase. By respecting these few rules of transparency and honesty, the volume of requests will only increase over time (subject to providing quality services of course …) and will one day allow you to truly choose your missions from among the many requests that come to you regularly. Once this capacity for choice is achieved, a feeling of freedom and independence finally emerges.
Nirvana is not far away …