Top 6 reasons for being self-employed

Redundancy forced our blogger Stuart Pearcey into self-employment almost against his will – as he says, at the time he had a mortgage round his neck and a 50th birthday cake in his kitchen. But he believes it turned out for the best, as he explains here.

More than a decade after becoming the master of my own employment destiny, my only regret is that I didn’t take the plunge sooner. But had I done so, it would have been harder, because super-fast broadband wasn’t there to support me in the way it is today.

It’s a vital part of my working life just as it is for thousands of others; a trusty sidekick to get things done round the corner and round the world. It’s the Laurel to my Hardy; the Watson to my Holmes; the Fortnum to my Mason. On one day last week I worked with companies in Burton-on-Trent, Ely, Grimsby, Warrington, and Worksop – without setting foot outside the front door.

So I’m going to start my six good reasons for kicking out from the safety of the side of the swimming pool into the uncharted waters of the deep end with technology…

1. Technology.  These days ‘the office’ is where the WiFi is. As far as service industries go, anyone armed with a laptop and a phone can become a true digital nomad. Go to the seaside if you want; sit in the garden wearing flip-flops or chill in your favourite coffee shop. Just so long as you’re keeping client needs in mind and reacting to them, it doesn’t matter where you are. For tradespeople, mobile phones and social media are great tools, allowing a reach into a far broader slew of potential customers than was ever possible in the old-fashioned way. I met the smashing Solo Expenses expense management app people on Twitter. Our paths would never have crossed without it!

2. Flexibility. So the sun’s shining, and you’d like to be outside with it shining on you. Or it’s the children’s sports day or carol concert. Why shouldn’t you go? It’s not about bunking off; you’re in charge of the hours, and you manage your own time. So long as you keep client interests in mind, why shouldn’t you work in the evenings instead, and make the most of a good day? It’s always worth remembering that you should never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.  Just make sure you don’t let work or relaxing overpower each other. Strike a balance.

3. Commute? What commute? Very occasionally I have to visit clients when everyone else is in their car or rushing for a train. Not having done it regularly for the last decade means it’s a shock to the system. My commute is a walk up the stairs, and I have hours of extra time every week in which to do more business or do nothing at all. (and of course no commute means no commuting cost). What’s more, I can wait in for parcel deliveries and plumbers whilst I’m still at work. That’s multi-tasking, right there!

4. Discover talents you didn’t know you had. Once you’re self-employed there’s no-one else in the company to lean on. The buck really does stop with you. But you CAN deal with the rough times in business; you just don’t know yet if you really have to. Mind you, if you’re in control of doing things to the right standard, why should things go wrong in the first place? (But buy in expertise when you need to. A good IT professional is always helpful, and a good accountant is a must. You can help the latter out with diligent use of Solo Expenses for your money management. You must know how profitable your company is)

5. You’re in charge. You make the policy decisions. You decide what the company needs. You control the purse strings. You see a need and react accordingly. You decide what business you want to take – and you don’t have to take it all. Pick what works best for you.

6. Job satisfaction. Come up with a good business idea, share it with impartial advisors (that’ll be the accountant, then), and run with it. It’ll be tough and worrying at times; there will be self-doubt, sleepless nights and possibly even tears, but if you keep at it, you’ll have something to be proud of; to look at and say: “I did that.” Sure, it’s sometimes scary, but you should feel the fear and do it anyway. Why would you want to grow old saying: “What it…”