Many people dream of working for themselves – and most have thought about chucking it in at the office and setting up on their own. But just how difficult is it? And would working for yourself really be right for you? As someone who began working for herself over 20 years ago – and never returned to the office – I give you the pros, the cons and some other considerations …
* You are your own boss. You decide the times you work and no-one knows if you went off to watch Neighbours in the middle of the day, get up late or knock off early.
* You can’t be sacked or made redundant. You also don’t have to book your holiday time off, explain if you’re under the weather and fancy a day in bed or want to see your child in his school play.
* You are in control of your own destiny. No more arguing about policy with your boss – if it’s your company, you decide the direction it goes in.
* No office politics. Working for yourself means you don’t need to get involved in the bitchy gossip either.
* The money you earn is your money. People rarely get rich working for someone else. No longer will you feel you’re working to line someone else’s pockets – apart from tax, everything you slog away for will belong to you.
* You might build up a legacy for your children to inherit.
* If you hire staff, you choose who to have. No more wondering why the latest recruit was hired, considering you think he is useless at his job.
* You are on your own. When there’s a decision to be made you won’t be calling a conference about it or have anyone to confide in.
* Your mistakes are yours. While this can be a good thing and take the pressure off (no boss to tick you off) there’s also no-one to blame except yourself if something goes wrong and possibly no-one else to turn to. And that can be a huge responsiblity in itself.
* No sick pay, redundancy pay or holiday pay – every time you take time off you will be losing money. And no overtime pay either when you work those extra hours.
* You must sort your own tax, VAT. Even if you employ an accountant or book keeper (at a cost) ultimately you are legally responsible for your financial affairs.
* You might be lonely and out of touch with your industry, missing the office banter and comradship – it can be fun to work in an office team.
* You can’t just leave your office and let others deal with things. If you work for yourself you will literally find yourself taking work home with you. In fact many people who work for themselves actually put in more hours than people who are salaried.
* Motivation will be key. If you are not motivated, driven and able to get back up again after knock-backs, you simply won’t make enough money. You also need to stay healthy as you will only be paid on your results.
Sometimes you have no option but to make your own way – for example if you’ve been made redundant. Otherwise, whether it’s better to work for yourself or continue working for someone else isn’t always cut and dried, but bear in the mind the following:
*If you are planning to go freelance, it helps if you do plan ahead. Perhaps you can gain a contract before you finish your notice and it’s a good idea to build up a cushion of cash to help you through the first three to six months. That way if business is slower to take off, it won’t be the end of the world.
* It’s not all about money. Lots of people decide to work for themselves as a way of improving their lifestyle generally. Circumstances might dictate you work for yourself. For example, if you have children, working for yourself might mean you can always be there to pick them up from school, working when they are at school or when they’ve gone to bed. You might decide that’s more important than earning more money in an office.
* Working for yourself can actually save you some money. Work out your finances – it could be you are spending a lot on commuting, parking fees, childcare and lunches out to work. Cut out these expenses, and you might be able to earn less but still be as well off from working for yourself.
* Freelancing is unpredictable – you might start off really busy but then find work dries up. Or you might gradually build up work. However, you will have to accept there will be peaks and troughs. Work also has a habit of getting busy just as you fly off on holiday, so you will need to be flexible to accommodate this or be prepared to turn money and work down.
* Being self employed doesn’t suit everyone. Some people simply miss plugging into the office too much. And freelancing can make you less employable. Companies are sometimes less keen to take on people who’ve run their own business, which has obviously not worked out. And if you go back to the salaried job in the office after a period of being out of it, you might find you have missed out on promotions – you could even find out you’re working for someone who used to be underneath you.
However, it can also open doors. Working for yourself can be tremendously satisfying and help develop a deep confidence within yourself that you can survive no matter what. And contacts you make while freelancing and taking yourself outside your usual office bubble can lead you to gain work or job opportunities you might never have imagined.