To decide if self-employment is right for you, you’ll need to carry out extensive research. While running your own business provides many advantages, striking out on your own requires tenacity and hard work

According to the Office for National Statistics there are five million self-employed people in the UK, accounting for roughly 15% of the labour market.

While self-employment may be an appealing career path for some enterprising individuals, it won’t be right for everyone. Before starting a business, you’ll need to weigh up your options and calculate whether you can afford to take the risk of setting up a new business.

In the current climate it’s also worth considering how COVID-19 has affected the self-employed.

Popular jobs for self-employment

Here are some of the most common jobs for the self-employed:

To find out if your chosen career lends itself to self-employment see job profiles.

Self-employed vs employed

A person is self-employed if they work for themselves as a business owner or freelancer. They run a business themselves and are responsible for its success or failure.

If you’re self-employed you don’t work for a specific employer who pays a consistent salary or wage like an employed person does. You also don’t have the same employment rights and responsibilities as employed workers.

However, it is possible to be both employed and self-employed at the same time. You could for example work for an employer during the day and run your own business in the evenings and on weekends.

Develop your capacity for innovation

With the MSc Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Cardiff Business School

Benefits of self-employment

Disadvantages of self-employment

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:

Questions to ask before becoming self-employed

  • Am I becoming self-employed for the right reasons?
  • Does my business idea have longevity?
  • Am I self-motivated enough to make a success out of it?
  • Will becoming self-employed fit in with my lifestyle?
  • Would I enjoy working on my own?
  • If I become self-employed how will I find/secure work?
  • Can I afford to become self-employed?
  • How will I fund my business?
  • What type of business should I run?
  • Do I have the right support network in place?
  • Is the grass always greener?

5 signs you're ready to start a business

There's no 'right time' to go self-employed. You'll develop skills and learn as you go along - but if you'd like some reassurance, you might be ready once you've:

Find out more

Written by Jemma Smith, Editor

Prospects · December 2020

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