When reaching a crossroads in our career path, whether due to redundancy, relocation or simple disillusionment, the idea of self-employment often pops onto our horizon.
However, while it might seem both attractive and the cure-all to our current career woes, it is not for everyone and some real investigation and research has to take place to ensure it would not be career suicide.
There are some clear basics to consider before self-employment.
- Do you have enough resources to cover your initial costs?
- Is there a clear market for your goods or service?
- Are you confident about managing the accounting, cashflow, tax concerns?
- Could you surf the waves of reduced income as your business establishes itself?
- Could you manage the loss of employee benefits like holiday pay, sickness benefits and pension contributions?
- Would self-employment be an isolating experience, without the camaraderie of work colleagues?
- Do you need a space to work in, would establishing such a space be prohibitively costly?
If you are able to respond positively to the majority of the questions above, self-employment could offer major benefits in flexibility and control that you have craved all your working life. Managing your own time, may fit perfectly with other commitments in your life, and with autonomy comes choice.
Selecting your own clients, and work preferences, can lead to much greater self-fulfilment, concentrating on areas in which you excel, and the decision to work from home can ditch the need for an expensive and energy sapping commute.
It is also worth remembering that some utility bills can be set against your tax liability, if self-employed, as well as the cost of essential equipment or transport. It will also come as a pleasant surprise that operating as a self-employed freelancer may also be far more lucrative than working as an employee in the same role.
However, although your potential income may be in excess of your current salary, that income does depend on your services being constantly in demand, and that requires a lot of energy being diverted into marketing and self-promotion.
You and you alone bear the responsibility of the business succeeding or failing and without the guarantee of a regular income, mortgage or loan payments may be difficult to meet. The buck certainly stops with you and that may be too stressful for some.
It may also be very challenging to seek out that elusive work/life balance when self-employed. The ability to shut the door on work, when the door is in your own home, and you take all of the out of hours calls and shoulder all the worry, requires self-discipline and a keen ability to shut down. After all, you have to factor in your own holiday requirements and can not rely on a colleague offering cover.
As you can see jumping off the deep end into the world of self-employment is a fools game. However, with careful planning, this could be a career solution that could really energise your life.
Assess the terrain, educate yourself on the administrative and legal aspects of your proposed business and take advice . . . there is plenty out there. Courses in bookkeeping and marketing are not only offered across the country at inexpensive night classes, but the internet has a raft of free information and forums of other self-employed folk to make the whole process less daunting and less isolating.