There are many benefits to being self-employed – as 1.6 million freelance workers around the UK will testify. From having the power to pick and choose your hours and workload to earning more money, working for yourself has few drawbacks.
But, how do you make a success of this career path and what are the key things you must consider before becoming self-employed?
Here we share our top ten tips for anybody considering becoming a contractor, freelance worker, sole trader or setting up a limited company.
- Choose to work in a sector or discipline you really enjoy
Working for yourself is about escaping the drudgery of your current occupation and fulfilling your dreams of accelerating your career in a particular sector or creating more time to spend with your family and friends. This is your chance to transform your life so make sure you will enjoy what you’re planning on doing – otherwise, what’s the point?
- Have clear goals about what you want to achieve
Do you dream of rapidly growing your business and taking on a small army of staff? Do you want to tackle roles that will enhance your career or do you want to work less hours but fund other activities? Have a clear objective from the beginning and make sure every opportunity you take helps you towards your goals – don’t be tempted to stray from the path.
- Be realistic in your expectations
You won’t wake up tomorrow with a million pound offer in your mailbox. Getting your business off the ground will take time and you may not fulfil your earning potential from the very beginning. It’s important you give yourself time to grow the business and set realistic goals as you work to build your network and secure a range of opportunities.
- Develop a support network around you
The old adage says that “it’s lonely at the top” and self-employment can be difficult with no-one to turn to – especially if you are moving from working with a large team or in a large corporate environment. It’s important to keep a network of people around you who can discuss work and share ideas and experiences. Make use of industry bodies or local networking groups.
- Be disciplined with your time
Remember you started on the path of self-employment to manage your own time. Be strict about working hours and don’t be tempted to crowbar extra hours into the day. Similarly, make sure you work the hours you need to and don’t be tempted by daytime television!
- Set professional standards
You are a professional and must act like one. Be prompt for your appointments, dress appropriately and follow business etiquette. Make your client proud to have you on their premises. Also, make sure all of your online profiles reflect your professional image. Remember, your social media accounts can be seen by everyone – including potential customers.
- Get professional advice
There are a number of things you need to consider and prepare for when becoming self-employed. Find the right professionals, networks and support services to help you stay on track. Most importantly, with the right advice you can maximise the amount of money you take home each year.
- Stay connected to your industry
Your industry will constantly be evolving and it’s important you stay connected to key companies and industry bodies. By staying on top of new developments and regulations – and getting any training you need – you will remain an expert source of skills for a range of companies. By remaining connected, you’re also more likely to get new work opportunities.
- Develop outside interests
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Even if you really enjoy your new career, make sure you have other interests. Outside interests are really important for overall well-being and social interaction. They also make you a more rounded individual and will help you adapt and fit into new teams.
- Finally – have fun!
You’re now totally responsible for your own income. That can be daunting, but you’re also responsible for everything else you do and you’ve now got control of your own time and more money. Make sure you find ways to enjoy your work and enjoy the time you have away from your new career.
Self-employment delivers some great experiences, will challenge you more than ever before and allow you to work with different systems and teams. All of these things will make you better at your job and will mean you’re in even greater demand.
If you have any tips to add, please share them in the comments below.