With self employment massively on the rise it means that people are increasingly deciding against the idea of being someone else’s employee. But although being your own boss sounds like a dream, it’s actually very hard work and comes with a lot of risk.
So what are the drivers that are making this change and is being self employed really all it’s cracked up to be? I had to find out.
I got thinking about this after I saw some facts. (I love fact and figures). Self employment has risen from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017 (that’s a rise from 12% to 15.1% of labour force). I also found it interesting that as self employment is rising, the number of self employed people with staff is decreasing. It seems we’re opting to work on our own or in partnership with someone else rather than building our own empires.
In addition to that, the number of self employed women has nearly doubled. In 2000 it was just under 900k but by 2017 it had grown to just under 1600k.
After I saw this, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own journey. I’m self employed now, but this isn’t the first time I’ve worked for myself. When I decided to go back to being employed I actually enjoyed it for a few years. Having paid holidays, finishing work and completely switching off, not worrying about anything and having a regular salary – it was all very welcome.
But as good as those things were, I couldn’t shake this niggle I had. I considered setting up a business on the side while I continued to work, to help with money. I thought perhaps that would be the best of both situations. That was until, like many self employed people, I got that final push. After an innocent misunderstanding that turned into some nasty comments being thrown my way by one of the directors of the company, I knew my resignation was coming soon. Has anyone else had that instant moment of clarity? That was it for me.
Chatting to other people, it seems that feeling undervalued by your employer is a key driver to making the change, but also things like wanting more time with the family, health issues or stress can be major catalysts. For me, pride is very important too. I ran a landscaping business many moons ago and I was always so proud of myself and my work. It was nice to know I’d made all the decisions and I could be truly proud of what I’d achieved.
As I was writing this blog I thought it might be good to get someone else’s take on why they decided to make the move to self employment, so I spoke to local Marketing Consultant, Lindsay Woodward.
She told me, “After being made redundant 4 times, I wanted a bit more control of my career. I also write novels and I knew that being self employed would offer me more flexibility to be able to write. There was no final push, it was a considered decision and I built a foundation in place before I handed in my notice and took the leap.”
Time and control. Two things that are very important, but you don’t have much say on either when someone else is paying you.
Next I asked her that killer question: is being self employed everything it's cracked up to be? She said, “Yes, absolutely. It took me ages to get my head around the idea that I didn't have a boss and my days were mine to plan accordingly, but it's made me feel like I'm living life for the first time. It's also nice that the more work I put in, the more I get rewarded. There's an exact correlation and it's refreshing.”
She’s been self employed for 18 months now and she explained, “There is nothing I would change at present as I'm in control. So if I want to change it, I just do.”
I think that’s such a nice story and, ultimately, it’s the ideal set up for being self employed. You’re in full control over the hours you work, you’re happy and you get back what you put in.
As romantic as the idea can sound, though, there’s no denying it’s hard work. I’m self employed to have more time with the family but at the moment I’m up at 6am and working through until about 10pm, and I’m doing it 7 days a week. But that’s just while I’m building things up. I’m in it for the long haul and I want that balance moving forward.
Whether you’re currently self employed and having those good and bad days, or you’re thinking of making the leap, it’s important not to forget what really matters and why you’re doing it.
It was great to speak to Lindsay. I actually think she has the balance just perfect. I can’t lie, I’m slightly envious. Although, that makes no sense. It’s me who has the control to change everything.
If you’re self employed, I’d love to hear from you. Did you have a pivotal moment that pushed you forward? Are you enjoying it? And how do you keep yourself in check to make sure you stick to your reasons?
I would like to thank Lindsay for her time answering my questions. Lindsay provides a range of marketing services for small businesses and she’s currently working on her 7th novel.
If you would like more information please visit www.l-w-marketing.com.