Here’s what you need to know.
Recent statistics show that more people in the UK are self-employed than ever before. Certainly, if you want greater control over what you do, then entrepreneurship might be for you. However, make no mistake – being self-employed isn’t easy. Becoming a business owner takes time, effort and real commitment before you see any rewards.
Self-employment isn’t for everyone
So how can you tell if you’re the sort of person suited to being self-employed? While everyone might be tempted by the thought of working for themselves from time to time, if you really can’t get the thought out of your mind, then that’s a good sign that you’ll never be truly happy in a PAYE role. Even if it doesn’t turn out how you expected, at least you can say you tried.
However, if you just want to give self-employment a go, it’s a good idea, certainly at the beginning, not to pack in the day job. Start out part-time and gradually increase the number of hours you focus on your business until you know that you can make it work. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to juggle a day job, while starting a business, but that’s the sort of commitment you need if you’re going to be successful. You’ll also need to be goal oriented with superb organisational skills and able to manage your time meticulously. It should go without saying that, as an entrepreneur, you’ll have mountains of self-belief and the confidence to take risks that may deliver little reward.
If that sounds like you, the next step is to decide what you can offer.
Got a great business idea?
That means researching some self-employment ideas. If you don’t already have a great idea for a business, the questions you need to ask here are:
- What are you good at?
- What skills do you have that are in demand?
- What problem can you solve?
- How will you market your business and win clients/customers?
- What challenges might you face and how will your overcome them?
Before doing anything, make sure you understand what’s involved in your business idea. Research the market thoroughly to understand the competition and the pitfalls. Remember, 60% of businesses fail within the first five years, so make sure you do all the research required for an in-depth business plan before launching.
And expect setbacks along the way. As Richard Branson puts it: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.”
Pros and cons of self-employment
While self-employment benefits include more flexibility when it comes to your working hours, you may discover, especially when starting out, that you put in more hours than you would in a 9-to-5 job. 59% of all freelancers work at weekends.
Be aware too that according to figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), self-employed workers typically earn less than their PAYE counterparts. There is no legal minimum wage when you’re self-employed and a lot of your time will be eaten up by unpaid work such as pitching for business, marketing, admin and keeping accounts. Furthermore, while you’ll enjoy plenty of independence and job satisfaction, self-employment means no employee benefits such as paid holidays and your cash flow will become very unpredictable.
If you think it’s for you, go for it! If things don’t work out, or your need a back-up plan, Zoek will still be there for you with a wide range of job opportunities in the PAYE workforce.
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