Freelancers, or self-employed professionals who enjoy greater independence and flexibility in their projects and work hours, have grown in popularity over the years as people connect to the internet more and the hiring process has become borderless.
Apart from being their own boss with the freedom to work anywhere, including their homes, freelancers’ benefit from multiple streams of income, an advantage not usually available to people who work in 9-to-5 jobs. With different sources of revenue, established freelancers can build an exceptional financial standing, allowing them to settle their debts easily, invest or save money for emergencies with still have extra funds to support their lifestyle.
Starting a freelancing business
Without a doubt, going freelance can be nerve-wracking to many, especially for first-timers. As such, it is best to be clear about one’s goals before saying goodbye to corporate life completely. This way, regrets are avoided and there is a sense of readiness as a consequence of this new decision.
When starting a freelancing business, the best place to start is knowing your area of expertise. Explore if this is a profitable niche and if freelancing opportunities abound in this space.
Further, acquiring network building, pitching and negotiating skills comes in handy when you’re running your own business. This is the best time to learn how to confidently show your edge and strengths to convince potential clients to get your services.
As self-employed, you will now be responsible as well for numerous requirements and needs you did not pay much attention to when you were part of a company. Some of your top concerns will include paying your taxes, getting medical insurance, and assuming all essential costs, including expenses for your freelance visa, license, equipment such as laptops and phones, travel, and bills.
If you think you’re ready for this new kind of adventure, then you’re all set to start your freelancing career.
Freelancing in UAE
In the UAE, the government fully supports freelancing even prior to the pandemic as part of its overarching economic diversification policy adopted to lessen its reliance on oil revenue. During the current health crisis, assistance is also extended to the sector.
As part of the UAE’s regulations, an individual thinking of accepting side projects or jump-starting his freelance career is required to secure first a freelance license or freelance work permit from the authorities. This is mandated by the UAE’s Labour Law. Many free zones in the Emirates, including Ajman, offer freelance permits to people of various professions such as those involved in the media and education sectors as well as those offering consulting services.
Freelancers are advised to check with the concerned local authorities whether they will need trade, e-commerce, or a freelance license to operate their business and if they are required to register for value-added tax (VAT). After correct compliance with the requirements, they can start building their portfolios and accepting projects.
In Ajman, the government encourages freelancing by giving professionals with various licensing options and attractive freelance packages designed to help offset costs that come with setting up one’s business.
At Ajman Free Zone (AFZ), in particular, it has a dedicated freelancer and pioneers’ hub where flexible co-working spaces are available to provide freelancers with the freedom to pursue their business in a cost-efficient manner and without the restrictions of long-term overheads.
Apart from cost-effective workspaces with no overhead charges, AFZ also offers co-operational spaces to network with industry professionals; 24/7 surveillance and free WiFi; visa services; and access to online customer portal and community that enable B2B transactions. One of the competitive advantages of AFZ - which is open 24 hours and located near Ajman port, Sharjah and Dubai airports, and main roads - is its B2B networking platform called AFZ Connect. It gives companies access to AFZ’s business directory to help them connect, grow their businesses, and enhance their e-commerce trade. The platform is a venue for business owners as well to engage with their like-minded peers wherever they are in the world, thus enabling them to communicate and promote their products and services globally.
Another privilege of being an AFZ member is that they are eligible for two residence visas and family sponsorship, while investors and partners are eligible to apply for a UAE residence visa. On securing a freelancer license, one of the 40 categories provided by AFZ, the free zone offers a cost-effective license at AED 6,000.
Freelancing provides an alternative income option to professionals of various disciplines. Technology has made it possible for the number of people going freelance to expand their horizons and explore many opportunities available in different parts of the world. At AFZ, Ajman and the UAE, the possibilities are endless. In this part of the world, the right infrastructure is already in place to help you thrive and grow even during this pandemic.