The perks and challenges of self-employment

In my career change programme, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different work frameworks, such as self-employment, portfolio career, regular employment, and entrepreneurship. I want to devote this article to self-employment; For me personally, this work concept has huge (!) perks, some serious challenges and requires an interesting set of skills, which I’m going to share with you in this article. Let’s begin with the good stuff. 

The perks of self-employment

When you’re self-employed, there can be huge flexibility in where and when you work. Often, people hang out in coffee shops and fulfil a brief they have been given by clients. 

Work is varied as self-employed people often work for several clients and on several projects. They might spend 6 months on one project and then take a break for a month before starting the next.

The biggest selling factor for me is that you get to be your own boss – you choose who you work for and what your boundaries are, your rates and what you offer. There is no micro- managing or company politics. This independence creates a great sense of fulfilment andauthenticity, which leads to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. 

Of course, these benefits come at a cost. So let’s look at the not so easy side. 

The challenges

Are you ok to work on your own all the time? While self-employment gives you a great amount of control, it can be isolating going from one project to the next. 

People who are self-employed need to plan ahead and be organised to secure work. At times, there may be gaps between projects and this irregularity of income can cause stress. 

In addition to your skilful offering, you will have to perform tasks that are outside your comfort zone, such as your annual accounts, raising invoices, selling your business, establishing a network and so forth. 

What’s different between self-employment and entrepreneurship?

At the outset, being self-employed or an entrepreneur seems similar as both take financial matters into their own hands rather than generating income through employment. But looking a little bit deeper, people who are self-employed work for themselves, for example as a freelancer or contractor. They leverage their skills to generate income and at the same time build their business. Coaches, for example, aren’t usually successful just by being really good coaches. They also need business acumen and have to invest in building their practice. 

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, focus primarily on the latter. They are building, maintaining, and probably eventually selling the business. They often have a team in place to work on the actual product or service, opposed to the self-employed who usually does both on a much smaller scale. I’m scratching the surface here and may dedicate another article to the differences.

Discover if you are well suited for self-employment with these questions:

  1. Do you have a skill that you can offer to a number of companies or individuals? 
  2. Do you feel content working alone, from your home office, a coffee shop or a library?
  3. Would  you be happy going into an unfamiliar office for a limited time?
  4. Can you easily adapt to different office cultures and work expectations? 
  5. Are you happy operating your own business by creating doing your own annual accounts, marketing, etc.?
  6. Can you stay focused when there is a gap between contracts and cope with doubts that may arise during this time? 
  7. Would you have a network of potential clients? 
  8. Can you plan ahead and commit to future work, even if they are 6 months out?

Watch the space for related articles on if you are better suited for employment or other work structures. 

If this content resonates and you would like support with a similar topic, let’s connect and have a chat. 

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