In March 2015, I became self-employed; I had a 1-year old who I wanted to spend as much time with as possible. Being self-employed gave me the chance to become my own boss, dialling up and down the business in accordance with school holidays and, eventually, a further two daughters. However, there are ups and downs. I wanted to share with you some of the guidance shared by my LinkedIn network when I asked: 

What are the benefits to being self-employed for you?

What are the downsides to being self-employed for you?

The Highs and Lows of being Self Employed

If you are thinking 2024 is the year to become self-employed then please read this first!

The Highs of Self-Employment

Flexibility and Freedom:

Many people who are self-employed value the flexibility that comes with being their own boss. You can create schedules that accommodate personal priorities, like spending time with family during the holidays, without compromising work.

This ability to be in control of your own time and routine is something that is becoming more valued as we move away from Covid times and the positive shift in work-life balance.

Varied Opportunities:

One of the most appealing aspects of self-employment is the ability to work with diverse clients and industries simultaneously, choosing those that resonate with your personal values, passions and expertises.

Getting the freedom to choose who you work with means you can pick companies that align with your beliefs and not have to work with people who don’t.

Control Over Your Destiny:

Self-employment allows you to take charge of your career, decide your pricing, and build a business from the ground up. It provides a sense of fulfillment and security that might be challenging to find in traditional employment because you’re allowed to make your own choices.

 

The Lows of Self-Employment

Financial Instability:

Starting out as self-employed can be financially challenging, with inconsistent cash flow during the initial months or even years. The uncertainty of income can create anxiety and make it hard to plan for the future. The pressure this can also add to you needs to be considered.

Make sure you have savings just in case, and if you don’t always put aside money each month to build this up over time so there are no nasty surprises ahead (tax bill / rates increase / quiet periods etc.)

Never Truly Switching Off:

Many of the people on my social media post referenced how hard it is to disconnect from work. While this dedication is important when you’re running your own business, it can lead to a constant sense of responsibility, making it difficult to unwind in your evenings and on holiday.

This is why setting important boundaries and routines is essential when you are running your own business. Getting a VA or similar support onboard can help to alleviate some of this pressure.

Isolation:

For those accustomed to being part of a team or managing one, self-employment can sometimes be a little isolating. For this reason, networking is a great way to make sure you’re interacting with other business owners, meet new people and share similar experiences.

Aim to attend conferences and events at least monthly so you have reasons to be out of the office. If possible, meet your clients in real life to bring a more human element to your relationship in the offline setting.

Assuming Different Roles:

When starting a business you’re likely to have to take on new responsibilities and roles that aren’t your expertise, i.e. managing the accountings, marketing activity and staying up to date with all of the administration.

Hiring professionals to support you in those areas doesn’t have to be expensive, using a Virtual Assistant, bookkeeper or marketing consultant can free up your time to focus on what you do best.

Self-Employment Summary

The highs are oh so high, but the lows are the lowest.

Self-employment, as shown by the comments left on my LinkedIn post, is a journey of contradictions. It allows you the freedom to choose your path and work with preferred clients, but it demands constant dedication and a broad understanding of business aspects beyond the core skill set. It can offer fulfilment and security, but it does also pose the challenge of shouldering responsibility.

As said, with great power indeed comes great responsibility.

Self-employment means more control over your destiny, it also means being responsible for your income and potentially the livelihood of others. While flexibility is a significant perk, it’s important to find a balance between work and personal life to avoid burnout if you own a business.

Ultimately, despite the ups and downs, the journey of self-employment can be far more rewarding than employment ever could be. It provides a unique opportunity to learn and grow, and to build something meaningful. As one business owner noted, it’s all about enjoying the ride, fretting a little less, and making the most of every moment.

If you’ve found in your business that you’ve started doing what you love but you don’t feel you’re up to date with the marketing let’s have a conversation.

Please do not hesitate to contact Tabitha Beasley at The Marketing Associates: Tabitha@themarketingassociates.co.uk or call 01233 720379

Appendix

Pros and cons by LinkedIn comments:

Best thing I did, I am spending time with my babies through the holidays, I plan my work and clients around this. Best of both worlds ?

Pros – I love the flexibility of being self employed.

The opportunity to work with a number of different companies from a variety of industries at any one time.

Cons – financial instability – cash flow can be very challenging in the first few months/couple of years when you set up.

Running the risk of never being able to “switch off”

Can feel isolating when you’ve been part of a team, or managed a team for many years.

PLUS: Many. Main ones are a variety of income sources rather than just the one employer, Freedom to choose time to work and manage one’s schedule and , the most important – Opportunity to plan and participate in time with family.

MINUS: That is tough. Not easy to think of one.

Since being self employed I’ve learnt a lot. My work ethic and how much it means to me. The more you put in the more you get out of it. I just wish the cash flow was sustainable every month then I could take it on full time, but whilst it’s growing I can’t take the risk for my family.

Pros..Freedom, flexibility, every £ is genuinely earnt, less politics, greater fulfilment, the opportunity to build a business from your own graft, far greater security than a job with c.3 months notice

Cons…worst boss ever (in my experience) ?

“With great power comes great responsibility”. Being in control of your own destiny (setting your own pricing, choosing who to work with, when to work, etc) is brilliant but there is so much to ‘control’ and think about. Being responsible for other people’s income as well as your own is another level of scary!

The instability of income and no defined holidays (I tend to be bad at taking time off) can cause anxiety.

Pros…I can travel anywhere in the world and work from my laptop, time difference can sometimes be tricky but you make it work if it needs to, and you never miss out on the opportunity of a sale.

Cons… it’s 24/7 there’s no switch off unless you want there to be, but then you run the risk of losing business.

I have run my own thing for 20yrs, I agree with all the positives other people have already mentioned but it took me years to get over the constant worry of ‘where will my next piece of work come from?’ I was perpetually convinced that somehow my ‘luck’ would dry up but it never did. I wish I had known years ago that I could stop fretting quite so much and enjoy the ride more.

Pros: flexibility, being your own boss, ability to work with the clients you love (and say goodbye to those you don’t), doing things the way you want, ability to work hard and see results, can hire people and treat them the way you would have liked to be treated!

Cons: it’s hard to switch off, the buck stops with you (but that’s also a good thing), you have to understand more than just your job.

But I seriously would not change it for the world – 22 years self-employed and counting ?

Pros: flexibility, being your own boss, ability to work with the clients you love (and say goodbye to those you don’t), doing things the way you want, ability to work hard and see results, can hire people and treat them the way you would have liked to be treated!

Cons: it’s hard to switch off, the buck stops with you (but that’s also a good thing), you have to understand more than just your job.

But I seriously would not change it for the world – 22 years self-employed and counting ?

Flexibility is the best thing about self employment.

Pro’s – you decide who you want to work with and align your working life with people whose company you enjoy.

Con’s – you never turn off unless you are asleep!