- you are responsible for yourself
You are your own boss and decide what you want to do. Nobody tells you what you should do or what is best for you. Therefore you decide yourself which services you want to offer on the market and you can accept or reject orders based on that.
You arrange the day and place as it suits you best. If you do not have to work at the customer’s site, you can work from anywhere as a freelancer. You are also free to choose your working hours and break times. The only thing that matters to the client is that the deadline is met and a good result is delivered.
When you work as a freelancer, you have the opportunity to constantly experience new projects and thus, a constantly changing field of activity. Of course, the different customers and locations also bring a lot of variety into your work.
- chances of a higher income
In the end, many freelancers often decide to become self-employed because of the financial benefits. In most cases, freelancers are paid according to a fixed hourly or daily rate, which they can negotiate with the client beforehand. The more expert knowledge a freelancer has, the more likely he is to demand a higher hourly rate.
- live entrepreneurship
Self-employment offers you the opportunity to realize yourself. From project acquisition to your own bookkeeping, as a freelancer you are responsible for it yourself and deal with issues of a business owner.
Your company has assigned you to plan a new project and you don’t know where to start?
First, you should think about what the goal of the project is. This must be clearly formulated so that there will be no misunderstandings during the planning and also later during the implementation. This must be clearly formulated so that there will be no misunderstandings during the planning and also later during the implementation.
When planning the project, make sure that you plan realistically. Yes, the sponsors of the project want the project to be implemented as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, but there is a danger that this expectation will build up pressure, which in case of doubt will become a major burden on the entire project. Therefore, try to build sufficient buffers into the planning and show the sponsors what the consequences of saving these buffers would be.
Während der Planung solltest du dir auch bereits Gedanken über den Einsatz verschiedener Tools machen, um beim Projektstart diese Diskussion zu vermeiden. Erstelle einen Plan, wie und wo das Projektteam seine Aufgaben festhält, Dokumente teilt und Meetings abhält. Überlege dir außerdem einen Plan, wie eine Umsetzung des Projektes auch remote möglich ist, sodass Mitarbeitende im Home Office eingebunden sind und die Durchführung sichergestellt ist.
Bei Sidekick nutzen wir beispielsweise Trello für die Übersicht der Aufgaben, OneDrive um Dokumente zu teilen und Microsoft Teams für das abhalten von Meetings.
The composition of the project team is another important factor in project planning. On the one hand, the qualifications of the team members should meet the requirements of the project; on the other hand, the team needs a balanced social structure.
In addition, the capacity of the individual team members should be such that they can be involved in the project most of the time, ideally full-time. If this is not the case, a delay of the project is inevitable.
The cornerstone of project planning, as well as later during the implementation, is communication. Relevant stakeholders must be involved right from the start so that all perspectives are taken into account during planning. Of course, bringing together the different interests is not always easy, but it is better to encounter these conflicts during planning than when the project is in full progress.
In addition, the commitment of the stakeholders is significantly higher if they are involved in the planning from the beginning.
You and Anita are the founders of Sidekick Network. What did you actually do before you founded the company?
- First, I studied business administration in Dresden and then I did my main studies in Sweden. I was able to learn a lot in a very startup-oriented environment and I knew that I definitely wanted to work in an international context later on. The university itself was completely focused on entrepreneurship. I also wrote about spin-offs and start-ups in my diploma paper back then.
- After graduating, I started working at T-Systems and was able to work on many projects. However, after some time I realized that I would like to work independently. That’s why I became a freelancer myself.
How did you come up with the business idea for Sidekick?
- During the ten years that I worked as a self-employed IT consultant, I came up with the idea of founding Sidekick. I was constantly getting offers from agencies that didn’t fit me and my qualifications at all. Moreover, I knew that I was not the only consultant with this problem. That’s when I identified a gap in the market that we could fill. In addition, I had known Anita since my time at T-Systems and could very well imagine building up a company together with her, as we had always worked great as a team.
What has been your most striking experience in your career so far?
- I once had a consultant call me and say: “Andy I’m standing at the traffic light right now, it’s raining, I have two shopping bags in my hand and I’m just happy that I have done this”. At that, I got goosebumps on the phone and thought that’s exactly why you’re doing this. Of course, other factors played a role in the situation, but she was happy, and we accompanied and supported her on her way to independence. It’s not always about money, creating meaning is a lot of fun and gives you so much more.
You also have a family and a private life; how do you manage to find a balance between that and work?
- Quite well, actually! I set a time for myself in the evening, and if it’s dinner with the family, then I really finish the day. The company also gives me the freedom to be at home a lot and to experience life. I can organize my days myself, unlike before. The days are not less full because of that.
- I had a very defining experience in my career, which made me realize that my focus needs to remain more on my family.
What kind of experience was that?
- I’ve traveled a lot throughout Europe and flying was like taking the train, timed down to the last second. There’s also a funny book about Frankfurt-Munich-Frankfurt written by consultants who describe it the same way. You know which hotel to go to, you know the cab driver, you know everything inside out. At some point, after a long trip at baggage claim, I heard my suitcase drop onto the conveyor belt without me seeing it. I just knew it was mine and at that moment I realized: you travel too much; it shouldn’t be like that.
- That’s why my basketball training is so important to me. That’s where I can really switch off. You can’t do anything else in the game. The only thing that counts is the game. You have to run for an hour and a half, whether you want to or not. You’re exhausted and can’t think about anything else. Of course, the shared beer afterwards is also a nice goal.
What tip would you like to give others?
- Don’t put yourself under pressure if no one else asks you to.
Finally, a statement from you about what Sidekick means to you.
- I have two images in mind. One is the Tour de France. There are the best cyclists in the world. And there are the experts who are not in the spotlight, who hang out of the moving car and repair the racing bike while it is running so that the rider can deliver top performances again. The perfect sidekick. An absolute expert, not a talker but an important part of the team.
- The second picture is a port. Every self-employed expert is this by conviction. He steers his ship, knows his way around and has a goal. But every now and then, even he needs to head for a port to refuel supplies, exchange ideas with like-minded people, recharge his batteries, and then sail out into the world again. We are the port. We take care of the bureaucracy, bring people together and ensure follow-up projects so that the experts can concentrate on their job.
Especially during a pandemic, it is important not to lose contact with your fellow human beings and you are more dependent than ever on the support of your network.
But how do you network when business lunches and “meeting for coffee” are not an option?
- Networking, whether online or offline, only works if you stay true to yourself and appear authentic to others. Do not pretend just to please others but connect with people with whom you want to build a long-term relationship.
Take care of your existing network
- Especially now, it is important to keep in touch and keep up with your existing network. Contacts and relationships that have lasted through the pandemic are very valuable and show which contacts you can rely on.
Make a list of which contacts you are determined to keep in touch with and either message people or arrange to meet them for a virtual coffee date.
Participate in online events
- Due to the fact that no face-to-face events can take place at the moment, the offer of online events is higher than ever. Every day and at any time, numerous events with a wide variety of topics take place. Choose events that are of interest to you and attend them. Connect in discussion rounds with the participants or even with the speakers. At the same time, you can share your participation on your social media channels to generate content.
Be active on your social media channels
- Actively connect with people from your industry or region.
Share your thoughts on current business topics either in your own posts or as a comment under others’ posts, so you enter into an exchange with people.
Use online communities
- You can find online communities on a wide variety of topics. Exchange ideas with like-minded people and make contact with people from the same industry or with the same interests.
Who has not experienced it: distractions lurk everywhere and interrupt us at work.
Especially in the home office, the probability is high that we encounter and think of a thousand of things that need to be done around the house.
But how do you manage to focus on work despite the distractions?
Here are a few tips that can help you:
Define clearly for yourself when you work and when you take care of issues such as cleaning, laundry, etc.. This way you subconsciously adjust to when you deal with what and can better manage your time.
Set appointment blockers
Set appointment blockers to be able to work undisturbed at a time. This way you ensure that you are not disturbed by unexpected appointments. With some programs, such as Outlook, you can also use the status function to show your colleagues whether you are currently available or busy.
Clear your workspace
In order to think clearly, the environment is a crucial factor. Clear the work desk of all objects and leave only those relevant to the work on the table. The immediate surroundings should also be tidy so that you can concentrate on the things directly in front of you.
Music or complete silence
Find out for yourself what works best. Some people need complete silence to concentrate, others need background noise. For background noise, you can either turn on music, there are even special lists for that on Spotify, or turn on videos where other people have filmed themselves studying and working. (Yes, that actually exists! ???? )
Apps can support you
Meanwhile, there are also some apps on the market that are supposed to help you work in a focused way. These apps usually follow the Pomodoro technique and reward you with a virtual plant that grows the longer you are productive. If that’s too playful for you, you can also simply set a timer to 25 minutes and work on a task with concentration for those 25 minutes. Once the 25 minutes are up, you can take a 5 minute break and then repeat the whole thing.