Well it’s official, the UK is now the Self Employed Capital of Europe .  Seems many of us are now turning our backs on traditional employment to go it alone and there are many pros and cons

Pros Cons
Flexibility to work when you want Costs
Flexibility to work where you want No paid holiday/sick pay
Reduced commutes Employer security
Your own boss No regular income
Choose what to work on Long hours
Your success goes into your pocket Have to be a jack of all trades

So the cons of Self Employment could very easily outweigh the pros,  but it’s not all that bad and as you would expect on a technology blog, technology has some of the answers.

Costs: Of course you are going to have the costs of running a business, but these can be kept to a minimum and of course should be factored into your rates, here are just some ways you can keep your costs down:

  • Fax: I use an outbound fax about twice a year, incoming all I seem to get are ‘Great Car Lease Deals’. So I don’t have a fax line and I don’t have a fax machine I use a fax service such a efax.co.uk Phones: Skype, Google Hangouts and Voice over IP, the majority of my clients have Skype so my calls to them are free of charge, the same for a few who use Hangouts.  For traditional calling I use VOIP, it costs £2.40 per month plus call time which is lower than BT.
  • Office Rental: If you have the focus  then work out of the kitchen, but if you can’t there are many coworking spaces such as Cohub, which for a small price gives you access to a desk and internet connection.
  • Software: Utilising the Cloud gives me flexibility but also reduces my costs.  Using Google Apps for Business Documents, Professional EMail and Communication, Wave for Invoicing, Zoho for CRM, Mailchimp, Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn all for Marketing, Skype and Hangouts for Communication . Total cost £3.30 plus VAT per month.  One thing I need to stress, whilst your clients will no doubt know you are Self Employed it does not mean you should not take pride in your presentation, web and email are often peoples first port of call, not having your own domain for your website and your email is not the right first impression, seeing steve123@outlook.com on  on a business card always  makes me wince.

No paid holiday/sick pay:  I am in no way advocating working whilst you are on holiday or sick, you should work this into your daily rates (i.e. Income/No of Days you want to work a year = Daily Rate).  But I do want to make sure that whilst I am away I am contactable so I don’t miss an opportunity or can deal with any major issues. Skype and Google Apps means I can pick-up and communicate with people wherever I have an internet connection.

Employer Security/No Regular Income: Technology cannot help here but you are in charge of your future you need to make as much security as you need.  In the end it’s a mind set, I expect the majority of employed people are on a 1 month notice period and have less than 3 months savings.  So if you can build savings up to four months you are no different to an employed person.

Long Hours: When you are self employed it’s your business so you will put in the hours, but being flexible to work where and when helps out. Last night I worked at my desk till about 8pm, then went and played games with my daughter before continuing to work until 11pm.  I got family time, worked in a relaxed environment on a project I am enjoying, what’s better than that.

Jack of All Trades:  I did not become self employed to do invoicing, accounting, tax returns etc.  So I do as little of this as I need to and outsource as much as I want to afford.  Using systems such as Wave and Xero means my accountant and I can work on the same systems looking at the same data.  No double entry.  Whilst not a gifted Marketer, I use what’s available to me to make it easier, systems such as Mailchimp and Hootsuite go along way to keeping it manageable. Lonely & Stress: Yes it can be lonely but Coworking (Such as Cohub in Eastbourne), Networking and Good communications can reduce the issue.  Wrongly, many people go to networking to make a sale, don’t, go to networking to build relationships these may turn into work but in the end it’s a chance to get out from your four walls and meet people, many in the same camp.  Stress never tends to be far away, when you are employed it is the stress that your managers and staff present to you, when you are self employed its the clients and suppliers, it’s they’re just different.

So yes being Self Employed can have its Cons but with technology they are not insurmountable and when you add in the pros its a no brainer.