For many people, being self-employed is a dream job – with over 4.8 million people being self-employed in the UK according to BBC News and the numbers rising.
Being your own boss and not having to answer to anyone else may seem like the perfect life, but there are many things to consider before you start on your self-employment journey.
For those who succeed in their journey, it can be incredibly profitable and rewarding, with the flexibility to do what you want, when you want, and the opportunity to build yourself up without having to rely on others to progress in your career.
With this ultimate guide to being self-employed, you can make sure you have all the knowledge you need to kick start your self-starting career and achieve the goals you want.
What Classifies as ‘Self-Employed’?
People talk about being self-employed in several career sectors, but what does it actually mean? What do you have to do to be classified as ‘self-employed’? Well, according to the Gov.uk website, a person is self-employed if they run their own business for themselves and take responsibility for the success or failure of the business. There are also self-employed contractors (or freelance workers) who are responsible for completing ongoing work or projects for clients without being an employee of the business. There are a variety of freelance careers such as a freelance writer, photographer, web developer, bookkeeper, hairdresser, all with online courses available.
What to Consider before Becoming Self-Employed
Are you financially able to become self-employed?
As well as the potential gains that come with being self-employed, there are also a number of risks involved. One of the main risks associated with being your own boss is financially; with you being the sole person responsible for making an income for you and your potential employees. If your freelancing or business career doesn’t quite work out, you will need to have a fallback in mind; whether that be a savings account to sustain you, a partner with a decent income or then another source of income such as a part-time job.
Are you self-motivated enough to be your own boss?
With the flexibility of being able to work for yourself, comes the responsibility of being your own motivator. Getting up early in the morning and getting the work you need to do, done, is vital, even if you don’t have a manager to put the pressure on. Being self-motivated is one of the main skills you need to be self-employed.
Do you have the knowledge to be a self-starter?
Knowledge will come with experience; however, it is essential to have some skills and knowledge of the industry you are entering into first. If you are going into business, knowing your customers and the basics of business management as well as the business expenses you need to account for will ensure that you don’t find yourself running before you can walk. For freelancers, gaining knowledge and experience of the industry through employed work or volunteering is a great way to build your portfolio.
How to Start Working For Yourself
Explore Self-Employment Careers in Your Area of Interest
See what career areas interest you, whether you want to start your own small business on Etsy selling crafts, become a freelance writer or create and develop your own website. Make a list of your skills if you don’t currently have an idea in mind and seek inspiration from other self-starters online to see what career you might want to explore.
Get the Background Knowledge & Skills You Need
As mentioned previously, gaining the basic knowledge and skills is a must before diving in the deep end with self-employment. Many people have high expectations of starting their own business and becoming the next Steve Jobs, but without the core information about the industry you are very unlikely to succeed. Gaining a qualification in Business Management is a great way to obtain the knowledge you need, with qualifications from Level 3 Diplomas to Masters degrees available. For freelance writers and artists, make sure you are confident in your abilities and have some experience to boast on your C.V before applying for freelance roles.
Kick-Start Your Self-Starting Career
Once you have the background knowledge and experience, you are well on your way to becoming self-employed. For freelancers, begin by finding clients and building your image up through creating an online portfolio and searching for current freelance roles that are available. If you have set up a new business, then ensuring you have all the essentials ready (products, a website, social media pages, a business bank account, other appropriate business accounts and business insurance to name a few) should be your first step.
Register as Self-Employed
Once you start becoming self-employed, you also need to get in contact with HMRC so that you can fill out the appropriate tax paperwork to pay tax and make National Insurance payments. You can find out if your work classifies as self-employment by entering your details into the Employment Status Calculator on the Gov.uk website. You may need to register as a sole trader if you are a business owner, or as a freelance worker, in which case you will need to fill out a self assessment tax return. This is a vital stage in your journey to self-employment, as without it you might encounter costly tax repayments, so be sure to check this stage and register carefully.
Build Yourself Up
Now the hard work really starts to kick in. If you are starting your own business, then make sure to promote, advertise and gain as much support as possible so that potential customers know that you exist. Start getting your start up business out there through social media, connecting with other businesses, talking to friends and family and heading to trade shows. For freelancers, the key is to advertise yourself. Make sure your C.V. is up to date and that potential clients are aware of the skills and expertise you have.
Last, but certainly not least, get ready to enjoy the freedom of self-employment.
Once you are established as a business or are on the road to your freelancing career you can enjoy all of the benefits that come with working for yourself such as flexible holiday time, a chance to increase your profits, the ability to work from home and of course the pride and sense of achievement which is gained through building your very own career.