I was recently contacted by Boost Capital who provide small business loans to see if I would be interested in writing a sponsored post about the pros and cons of being self-employed, and I jumped at the chance because I know many bloggers (including a few of my regular readers) are now either already self-employed or are planning on taking the leap in the future.
So, in the interest of painting as true a picture as I can, here’s a list of some of the pros and cons of working for yourself!
PRO: The flexibility
I think it’s fair to say that the flexibility of self-employment is one of the biggest pulls that makes people hand in their notice and set up shop. Working your own hours is incredibly rewarding because you have more control over your work/life balance.
For example, I now don’t have to get up at 6:30 am to get to the gym before driving to work. I can go to the gym during the day if I want to! I can also get through the washing much quicker because I’m working from home.
You can also work your most productive hours, too. If you’re a night owl, you could work late in the evening or if you’re more of an early bird, well why not bust out your business plan at 6 am?
While hours are flexible, sometimes you have to work extra to fit it all in. As a service-based business, on top of doing client work, I also have to find time to market my business as well. If you’re thinking of going self-employed to work *less* hours, you may find yourself a bit surprised at first!
CON: There’s less structure
I like structure. I’m a bit obsessed with it. So it’s been a good learning experience to run my own business and have to establish my own structure where possible!
But the reality is, self-employment has a lot less structure and stability than working for an employer. The most obvious reason for this is a lack of stable, regular income. If you have a few regular clients paying you a set amount each month…amazing! What are your secrets?! Please tell me them.
But more often than not, month by month your income will be different and you’ll need to plan for that. I am not particularly financially-minded but I have been lucky enough to get some great advice on how to record my income so I can stay on top of it and to some degree make predictions about future income based on sales. I do this using a Cash Flow template, and although I had mine custom-built for my business, this one from Zervant is a decent solution with all the whizzy sums already in place!
Full disclaimer: I’m also lucky in that I still work part-time for my previous employer, so I have a chunk of regular income that does give me more stability than someone solely working for themselves!
PRO: Working from anywhere
Being self-employed not only means working when you want but where you want too. While I don’t see me becoming a digital nomad (someone who travels around the world while working), I do like the fact that I have the option to go to a local coffee shop if I want to, or even just working from my bed or sofa instead of my desk!
An added bonus to this is that you can wear what you want when working as well – most of the time I will dress as I would when I was working in an office (jeans and a blouse/shirt), but from time to time I’ll work in my joggers and a slouchy jumper or even my pyjamas…
CON: It can get lonely
Working for yourself can be a lonely existence sometimes. There’s no one around to bounce ideas off of or to take a little break with and have a chat while the kettle boils.
I do miss that occasionally, but self-employment isn’t always lonely because you have networking meetings, client meetings and also the freedom to go and be around people for any reason really. I also have the benefit that Liam works from home as well so we always have each other to distract!
PRO: You’re in control of who you work with
I remember several years ago I worked for an agency. I loved working with the team, but you didn’t have a say in the clients you worked with. I’ll always remember that one client I had was incredibly sexist and never listened to my recommendations unless they were given by my (male) manager.
It was incredibly infuriating, and if I was working with that person with my own business, I’d have dropped them as soon as I could. Luckily, my clients now are all lovely people who understand the value of what I do and don’t care about the genitals in my jeans. They care about the fact that I am passionate about helping them grow their business!
CON: Finding work is a struggle
Before I started working for myself, I read a lot of garbage articles online about people making thousands in their first month of freelancing. These articles talked about the work flooding in from day one, and how they made loads of money incredibly passively (aka by doing next to nothing except using this AMAZING FREE GUIDE THAT WILL MAKE YOU ££££).
Thankfully, I’m not an idiot and didn’t for one second believe that cash would come rolling in. What I wasn’t fully prepared for though was actually how hard it is to find work as a self-employed copywriter. Firstly because there’s loads of us competing, and many stick a ridiculously low price point on their work, and secondly because I didn’t really know where to look.
It makes the job harder because you really have to sell yourself and justify your higher price point which really comes down to “if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys”. On top of that, you have to put yourself out there as much as you can to attract new clients. Find out how I find work as a freelancer.
PRO: It’s a chance to be creative
When you run your own business, you aren’t confined to the restraints of a job description. You can change, grow and adapt as you need which gives you the chance to be really creative. You can also choose to be creative with the actual work that you do too! Like drawing? Sell your art! Good at creating posters and logos? Freelance as a graphic designer!
One of the reasons I wanted to work for myself was to cut out those annoying extra tasks you got asked to do that weren’t really utilising your skillset (and often ended up taking up the majority of your time!), instead focusing on what you do best and doing it well!
CON: You can feel like an imposter
This for me is one of the hardest things about working for myself. There will be times when I start to question my ability – and those times don’t always necessarily come when the work coming in is low. In fact, sometimes I can feel like an imposter when I’m doing particularly well.
I’m not, I’m just doubting myself. It’s not always easy to remind yourself that you’re good at what you do! BUT, you’ll always manage to climb out of those holes and remember that you are actually pretty darn awesome and your clients are lucky to have found you because you care about helping them.