I’ve been self employed for 12 years this year – nearly my whole adult life. It’s a great way of life, but it’s not without it’s downsides. I’ve drawn upon all the experience of the freelancers and employers in my circle to share with you our pros and cons of being self employed.
Pros of Self Employment
Find good ones and it can be a real pleasure to serve them. When you work for yourself you can really shape your service to how you think it should be and delight customers, and that’s very satisfying
One of the top pros for most people is the flexibility. If you decide you want to break off and go to the gym, you can, just not all the time. In creative industries it’s particularly useful to be able to work when you’re in the flow, and do something else when you aren’t.
Continuing on the topic of creativity, there’s a lot more scope for being creative when you work for yourself. If you come up with an idea you think is good you can act upon it, you don’t have to ask someone else’s permission, and you aren’t stifled by hierarchy.
If you work smart you can achieve the work/life balance you are looking for. However, when you work for yourself it can become all consuming and feel like you’re never off, which can lead to worse work/life balance than when you were employed.
Having no boss is a big plus for a lot of people, self sufficiency is a great feeling but it can have its downsides.
Lots of self employed people feel that the lack of office politics is a big advantage to being self employed.
Fewer work-related expenses
No more wedding collections, baby showers, leaving presents, engagements, new houses, charity collections, dress down days… Add to that the business lunches, work nights out, business dress and travel expenses, and being employed can be quite costly.
Your earnings are for you to decide. It’s a nice feeling to know you can work more or less to achieve the income you desire.
Managing a team
If you choose to, you can expand your business, take on staff and begin managing a team. Many people are fulfilled by the challenge of this, as well as being able to offer employment to others.
Sense of achievement
Growing a business gives you a sense of achievement. You alone can choose how far you decide to go.
Create your own workspace
You can design your workspace to suit yourself. Everything from your chair to your desk to the type of computer you work on, it’s all yours to choose.
Cons of Self Employment
Cashflow is one of the biggest challenges when you’re self employed. Work doesn’t arrive in a nice neat flow as it does when you’re employed, you need to be good at dealing with money to smooth out the ebbs and flows.
See previous, work can either come in and overwhelm you, or you can go weeks with no new clients. This can have a real effect on your confidence, motivation, and ability to stay self employed over the long term.
Working from home is great, but if you don’t get out often, you can quickly get cabin fever. To make it work you need to be good at managing your schedule to ensure you’re not at home day after day.
One of the least fun jobs of being self employed. You forget when you’re employed that there are a host of other people elsewhere doing the jobs you don’t like or aren’t good at. Not so when you’re employed.
Doing tax returns can be a hassle, and bookkeepers and accountants can be expensive.
People assume you don’t work
Friends and family may not take your work seriously leading to low self esteem or a lack of confidence. You may also find that people ‘pop in’ or give you a ‘quick call’ as they think you can break away from work whenever you like, or worse still they don’t see what you do as work at all.
More difficult to get credit
Want to get a mortgage or a loan? Brace yourself for some serious hoop jumping. Lenders don’t really like self employed people as it’s seen as less steady income.
No sick pay
Sick? Tough luck! There’s no one to cover you, and no one to pay you sick pay. You’d better to stay very healthy, or get used to working through it.
No pension or benefits
If you plan on retiring some day you’ll need to make your own pension arrangements.
Responsibility of staff
Having staff can be a lot of pressure, instead of having a couple of children dependents, you now have a host of people relying on you so they can pay their mortgage.
Dealing with difficult clients/customers
The buck stops with you. If you have a difficult client or a tricky situation, you need to deal with it.
Are you self employed? Would you add anything? Or are you considering becoming self employed in 2017?