Is Being Self-Employed The Right Thing For You?

By: Benedict Rohan


As well as being viable from a business perspective, it's also crucial that setting up a company is appropriate for your personal needs. It's a huge commitment that will require a lot of hard work, so you need to be sure that you're up to it and that your lifestyle can support it. You also need to examine your skills, experience and attitudes, for example, can you lead a team or manage accounts, do you know the industry, and how do you feel about taking risks?

To help you explore whether it's the right thing for you, it's important to understand your objectives thoroughly both personal and company goals. Are they achievable and are they compatible with each other? Consider these objectives in terms of working hours, career aspirations, personal progression, risk, money and flexibility.

Below are some of the pros and cons of being self-employed:


Independence - your work can be much more flexible so you can achieve a balance between your job and your home life much more easily. Of course the business needs will always be a priority, but if these are met then you can take time off whenever you want.

Control - you're the boss so you're the decision maker. You can work according to your own plans and goals and you'll of course have a much greater feeling of responsibility, which many of us crave in our jobs.

Satisfaction - you always get a greater sense of pride and achievement when you've done something for yourself. And there can't be a much greater achievement than making a success of a business it's not an easy thing to do. It can be a great way of moving your career up a notch or two and giving yourself a new challenge Many people find that they arrive a certain point in their careers where progression seems to level off and their jobs no longer provide a challenge or allow them to perform to their potential.

Fun - all of the above factors can contribute to making the running a company a fun and exciting job. You chose the company business model, objectives and plans and created your own job role, so in theory it should be just right for you! We all dream of having the perfect job, but it can be a reality for those who are self-employed.

Money - if all goes to plan and your business becomes a profit-making success, there's almost no limit to how much money you could make compared to your earnings potential if you were employed by someone else.


Running a business isn't all a bed of roses, of course. Not everyone can make it succeed and even if they do it will always take a great deal of hard work and persistence.

Longer hours - although it might seem as if your working week will be more flexible, you will always be constrained by the needs of the business, which must always come first. And you're the one who's in charge so it all falls on your shoulders to make it work which can mean working all the hours necessary, often evenings and weekends. Don't kid yourself that it will be an easy life you will inevitably be working more hours than if you were an employee of a company. Another downside of working long hours is that it won't just curtail your personal life, but it could also lead to a confusion between work and home as many small business owners find themselves working whenever and wherever it is necessary. This can often cause tension with partners or families.

How much power do you have? most people have to borrow money in some way or another to allow them to set up their business, which means they will have responsibilities to their lenders or investors who will no doubt want to see the business plans and may want to be consulted on major decisions to ensure that their financial interests are being taken care of effectively and efficiently.

Stress factor - you have a lot of responsibilities as a small business owner, and as you're ultimately in charge you may sometimes find yourself feeling under a lot of pressure, which can affect both your performance in your job and your home life. People who are self employed are more likely to take their worries home with them as they feel a constant pressure.

Failure - we all make mistakes from time to time. It's just a natural part of the learning process and even the most successful business owners wouldn't have got where they did without the odd slip-up or misjudgement here and there. Some of us are better at dealing with failure than others, though, and your attitude will have a great impact on the success of your business. If you take it in your stride when something doesn't go to plan, and just fix it, get on with it and put it down to experience, you're more likely to make a success of your business. You must be able to cope with challenges and failure if you want to become self employed.

Juggling tasks - when you're setting up your business you may not be able to afford to employ other people to help you so you'll have to do a lot of different jobs yourself. If you're not confident in dealing with areas such as bookkeeping, admin, selling and promotion you may find your business struggling to survive. You must assess your skills and experience honestly and think about whether you really will be able to do it.

No more perks - people working for employers, especially large companies, tend to receive a great deal of perks and benefits which can often be taken for granted. If you're considering setting up your own business, think carefully about exactly what benefits you would be giving up and whether you can afford to, or are prepared to, make such sacrifices. For a start, you'll lose job security, and you may also have to give up private health insurance, pension plan, company car and perhaps company discounts and vouchers.

So there's a lot to think about. You need to ensure that your both business needs and your personal needs can be met by setting up in business and that they are not in conflict with each other. You must be absolutely certain that this is the right decision for you if you're not fully committed to the idea, you won't have the drive and motivation to make it work. It may be possible to start off your business as a trial first, part-time only, while keeping your main job, in order to assess whether you want to go the whole hog. This will depend on the needs of your business and the finances needed to start up.

© 2007 Benedict Rohan. All rights reserved.