Becoming self-employed certainly isn’t for everyone, but for some it might be an ideal solution to their career goals – and it may not be as hard as you think.
If you have a specific skill that people are generally willing to pay for, then self-employment can provide a sense of autonomy and achievement that is hard to find in regular employment. Choosing your own hours and dealing directly with all aspects of the business might sound perfect for you, but there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account before you make decide to make the change:
Can you afford it right now?
Starting up your own business, even as a sole trader, still often requires some start-up cash. Equipment, supplies, training and maybe an office or workshop will all need to be paid for up front and a certain amount of budget needs to be left for marketing. You may be able to get a small business loan or start-up grant, but these are becoming more difficult to get. Consider carefully whether you can afford to pay for all the necessary things and live without a wage until the business gets going, before you jump into self-employment.
Do you have all the necessary skills?
Running your own business requires more than just doing the job, especially if you are a sole trader. You also need to market yourself, network, file a tax return, and keep on top of admin tasks. You may be able to get help and advice from your local Chamber of Commerce.
Can you handle the pressure?
Choosing your own work hours can make self-employment much more flexible, but the job will come with different pressures to regular employment. Your income will be irregular, leading to months of plenty as well as low periods; you will have to deal with difficult clients and challenging projects; and time-keeping will become your sole responsibility. If these sound like the kinds of challenges that would motivate and fulfill you, then you should seriously consider becoming self-employed.
Do you enjoy your holiday and sick benefits?
As a self-employed individual you wont benefit from the same holiday and sick entitlements as those in regular employment. If you want a holiday or other time off you will need to account for the time you cannot work. Whether that means saving up enough to cover that income or whether you work extra hours to make up for it, either way it’s not as easy as simply booking the time.
If you think you would relish the opportunity to be your own boss then the National Careers Service has some good advice: visit their self-employment section for a host of useful information and resources. You can also contact one of their advisers to help guide you through the necessary steps to self-employment.
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