Creating a successful business takes tenacity and hard work, but the benefits of self-employment make the effort worthwhile for many enterprising individuals
Advantages of self-employment
There are many potential benefits of being self-employed, such as:
- Independence - Having the freedom to set your own hours and fit your work around other commitments often leads to an improved quality of life.
- Job satisfaction - Reaping the rewards of your hard work can be very satisfying, while you also have the autonomy to do the things you love most.
- Location - Working from home, if applicable, means that you don't have to worry about office politics, company hierarchies or an expensive and stressful daily commute.
- Salary - Your earning potential is much higher when self-employed - everything is in your hands and, financially, the sky's the limit.
Disadvantages of self-employment
Despite the advantages, there are some inevitable risks involved in self-employment. These include:
- Lack of employee benefits - You won't get sick pay, holiday pay or any other employee benefit.
- Long hours - Your working day may be much longer and more irregular than someone who isn't self-employed. Business commitments may mean that you spend less time with your friends and family, or struggle to switch off from work life.
- Responsibility - You're in charge of your pension, National Insurance and completing your self-assessment tax return - what's more, you'll pay tax even if your business makes a loss. Nobody is there to manage you or motivate you during the difficult times. The fact that success or failure is down to you can increase your stress levels.
- Unpredictable finances - Your income can be irregular, especially in the early days. You could go several months without earning a profit, and you'll always have to pay running costs such as rent, insurance and internet access.
Skills to succeed in business
Success as a small business owner largely relies on the strength of your product or service. However, you must also possess the following qualities to thrive:
- Creativity - You must be innovative, imaginative and have the initiative to push your business forward with new ideas. You'll also need drive, determination and enthusiasm to make them reality.
- Knowledge - Having a strong understanding of your market and customer is vital, while the willingness to listen and adapt to their ever-changing needs is also key.
- Leadership - Owning and developing independent projects should come naturally to you, as should managing a team.
- Organisation - You must be focused and goal-orientated, able to set clear and realistic objectives. Working well under pressure and having strong time management skills are also important.
- Self-belief - You'll need the confidence to take risks and responsibility for your decisions, as well as the appetite to network with individuals and other organisations.
Six signs that you're ready to start a business
Here are several boxes that you'll probably need to tick before committing to self-employment:
- You have the willpower, determination and self-discipline to enjoy making your own decisions, and are comfortable with the prospect of hiring and managing employees.
- You possess experience of working in a similar organisation at managerial or supervisory level, and have a deep understanding of the market that you're entering.
- Your family and friends are supportive, genuinely believing that you've got the ability and energy to be successful on your own terms.
- You're prepared to temporarily lower your living standards and spend a sizeable chunk of your savings, even if you've secured significant investment.
- You've developed skills in leadership, perhaps through attending seminars on small business ownership.
- You've worked out key financials such as your cashflow and profit margin.
If you feel that you're ready to make your move, discover how to start your own business.
Write a successful job application
Friday 14 December 2018Careers and Jobs
Employers receive countless job application forms to sift through - to show you're perfect for the role and get an interview; you'll need to demonstrate personality and confidence
While for some jobs you will be asked to send just a CV and cover letter, many graduate roles require you to fill in an application form instead.
You'll need to complete most job application forms online via the company's website, but paper forms are still accepted in some cases.
Find out more
Working while studying
Monday 12 November 2018Careers and Jobs
If you want to self-fund your Masters and avoid postgraduate debt, full-time work and part-time study is a viable option.
Working while studying can be financially and professionally beneficial, but balancing earning and learning is difficult. Getting the best from postgraduate study requires resilience, good time management, genuine enthusiasm for your course and dedication to see it through to its conclusion. To succeed, you must implement routines and plan each day in advance.
Most importantly, you must have open and honest conversations with your employer and potential course leader before applying for postgraduate study, as this will make the arrangement run more smoothly. Discuss study timetables and working hours, and be clear that you’ll need to amend each accordingly.
Find out more