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Don’t risk missing a beat
Self employment is booming
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that national unemployment has fallen to its lowest level (4.1%) since 1975, which correlates to the increase in self-employment and freelancing. Analysis shows that in the UK, 5 million people, about 15% of the labour force, is self-employed or freelancing.
It’s not hard to see the attraction. You get to pursue your dream, select only the projects that interest you, choose to only work with amazing people, and get to turn your hobby into your career.
What no one tells you, however, is that the music very much plays second fiddle (sorry; couldn’t resist) to being a project manager.
Adding string to your bow
As an employee, you have the security of a salary – if you want to sit doing nothing all day, you’re still going to be paid at the end of the month. As a freelancer, every minute counts. If you’re not working, you’re not billing, and if you’re not billing you’re not earning, and if you’re not earning you’re screwed because the mortgage, bills and nursery fees still need paying at the end of every month.
With the rapid decline of live music venues in the UK, along with greater capabilities of machines to play the notes once required by a human, most musicians supplement their performing careers with teaching, but how do you balance these two roles? How can you ensure you’re flexible enough to take that last minute recording session without messing around the lives of your pupils and their families with constant last minute cancellations?
It’s not just money that causes sleepless nights.
The freedom of freelance?
When you thought about becoming a full-time musician it felt liberating: no more pointless meetings, no more working ‘for the man’, no more working to make someone else rich. You could set your own agenda. You can finally leave your mark in the annals of music history. But did anyone tell you about the process of going solo?
Time to become an accountant
How do you understand the legalities around reporting your finances? What about your insurance, both personal and equipment? And that’s before you get to the tax return and trying to figure out what you can claim as a business expense. Remember how everyone joked about how bad you were with money? Turns out, they were right.
Time to become a project manager
Now begins the juggling act. You have so much work that you feel like you might die, but you have to keep prospecting to ensure you don’t hit famine (and consider the unthinkable – getting a job!). But how do you find the time to do non-billable work? Perhaps, more importantly, how do you do the non-billable work?
Time to become ‘Captain Reliable’
It’s all about keeping the client happy. They’ve hired you for, well, you. It’s about understanding what you’ve agreed to, how much work that implies and how that fits with the rest of your schedule. If you’re teaching young pupils, understanding what legally needs to be done to allow this to happen.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. You’ve never had so much to think about at once.
Our 5-step plan to help you regain confidence
Process Bliss is nearly 20-people strong, and yet we’ve only just hired our first employee. That’s because we’re a group of freelancers and contractors that have all been brought into the business because our CEO and Founder believes we’re the best at what we do. Whilst you may not consider this an ‘artistic endeavour’, we’re all contributing our own areas of creativity into making this a harmonious success, exactly like different members of a band. Apart from bass players.
1) You may be flying solo but you’re never alone
Social media is great for musicians. There are hidden communities you can join with weekly/monthly online catch-ups where you can celebrate/vent/share advice with your peers. Everyone understands, because everyone is where you are. So much is written about the negative impact of social media, but if you focus on the positive energy, there is so much to praise it for.
2) Figure out what you need to know
Whether it’s tapping into your community, checking out the advice offered by professionals who have been in your shoes or doing some research on Google, start creating a checklist of all the things you need to do to make your business run effectively, and sustainably.
3) Set SMART objectives
It may be a cliche, but there is definitely an element of truth in it, but musicians tend not to be the most organised – I know, you’re shocked. You’ve won round your other half and agreed that becoming a full-time musician is the way forward, but now comes the hard bit. As we’ve outlined above, there is more to it than simply rocking up and showing off your skills. Faced with this enormous challenge, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. By setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) objectives, you can begin to break these down into more manageable chunks, and also prove to yourself and the world that you’re succeeding in your goal.
4) Set up your processes
Time is never your friend, so make life easy. Rather than start from scratch every time, just write down the way you did something, and then refine it based on what has/hasn’t worked. Over time you’ll accumulate a lovely set of checklists that help to make your life simple and quickly overcome the panic of feeling out of control.
5) It’s OK to take the night off
It’s ok to spend the night in front of the TV, take a holiday or have an early night. Sometimes you need some ‘you’ time to gain that clarity on what you’re working for, and identify areas for improvement. Ok, I’m guilty of saying ‘yes’ too much and working crazy hours, but I make sure I have valuable time every week to spend with my children, husband, family and friends. And I’m also seeking out opportunities to get better at what I do, whether through reading or taking courses.
It’s all about balance
Just like when you receive the final mix of your latest session, balance is key to success. Too much bass or treble, and all your hard work has been lost in the mix. Working for yourself is exactly the same. There will always be risks involved, no matter how successful you are or how quickly you achieve this success. But the best way to mitigate these risks is by having effective processes to manage them.