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Getting into self-employment

You may think it takes a certain type of person to start a business.  Evan Davis, a presenter of BBC’s Dragons Den, suggests that the personal qualities a typical entrepreneur would have are:

Getting into self-employment
  • Confidence
  • Initiative
  • Determination
  • Resilience
  • A team worker
  • A risk-taker
  • A hard worker

 

If you've got the right attitude, there's no limit to what you can achieve as your own boss. 

A lot of people are employed i.e. they work for someone else.  Many others choose to work for themselves.

Welsh business-owners pointed to these as the top three good points of being self-employed (FSB Wales, 2018):  

  • You’ve got a great idea for a business that you think will catch on and make you money
  • You want to plan your own work and don’t want to be told what to do
  • You want to set your own working hours because of things like childcare

You are self-employed if:

  • You can decide when, where and how you do your work
  • You have more than one customer at one time
  • You sell goods or services for a profit
  • You can hire someone else to help you do your work
  • You provide the main items of equipment to do your work
  • You’re responsible for getting work finished, even if you need to use your own time to do it
  • You agree and charge a fixed price for the work you do
  • If you run your own business and you’re responsible for its success or failure, you’re self-employed

Self-employed workers work for themselves.  They decide when and where they work but not all will be running a business.

Some self – employed workers carry out projects or contracts but may not be the person who owns the business itself. Many workers in the construction industry such as painters and decorators, plumbers and carpenters are self-employed. 

Some self-employed workers call themselves ‘freelancers’ particularly in the business, finance and IT sectors.

Running your own business is when you set up and/or own a company that sells products or services.  You get to decide what you do and how you do it but it falls to you to make it work.

The Federation of Small Businesses in Wales say that most people choose self-employment to run their own business.  They do it because they think it’s the right thing for them (FSB Wales, 2018).

You might have heard of companies like Deliveroo and Uber.  These are big technology companies that hire people on a self-employed basis to work when they choose.

The advantage of this type of work is that you don’t have to work set hours.  On the down side, you might not be able to work for someone else, meaning you’re not so independent.  

This type of work has been in the news a lot.  But, it’s not the most common form of self-employment.

Every career option has good and bad points.  

Certain aspects of self-employment are both positive and negative, depending on your point of view.  For example, if you do earn money from your work, it’s all yours once you’ve paid your tax etc. – no boss to pay!  But, if you’re ill you don’t get paid and the same goes if work dries up.

How you feel about these issues will help you decide whether self-employment is right for you.

We’ve all heard of Sir Alan Sugar, Oprah Winfrey and Anita Roddick - all successful entrepreneurs. But don’t forget the host of plumbers, shopkeepers, mechanics, hairdressers and others near you who also run successful, profitable small businesses.

The responsibility of being the boss can be pretty scary at first, but it doesn't have to be too scary. There's so much help and advice available to you in Wales. 

There's everything from financial grants to free marketing advice. Who knows what you could achieve with the right help and some self-belief. Contact Business Wales to find out more.

1.    Work out your business idea

Your business idea can range from spotting a gap in the market to coming up with a brand new product or service. 

If you’re having difficulty, ask your friends or family to brainstorm ideas with you. You may already have a great idea that just needs a little more thought and they may just add the finishing touch.

2.    Do your market research

Before starting up your own business, you should carry out market research. You’ll need to work out that enough people will want to pay for your product or service for you to make a profit.

3.    Write a business plan

Use your market research findings to develop your business plan. You must have a business plan if you intend to apply for funding. 

Look at Business Plan examples for free at BPlans.

4.    Source finance for your business 

Read advice from The Prince’s Trust, Shell LiveWIRE, Startups and Business Wales. The self-employment section of the Prospects website also has useful information.

Some more start-up tips

  • Open a separate bank account for your business and keep records of all your income and expenditure right from the beginning
  • Start the business small, with minimum risks and costs
  • Always be looking to improve all aspects of your business, especially by listening to your customers. You’ll be surprised how honest people are when you ask how you can improve your service
  • Never stop doing your market research, checking is your Unique Selling Point still unique? Your Unique Selling Point sets you and your business apart from your competition. Put simply, it’s why customers buy from you rather than from the others
  • Give the best customer service possible. Always treat customer complaints seriously - and put them right
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people in the same business field
  • Find friends and family members that can help you in particular aspects of your business, such as web design, graphic design, photography and press contacts
  • Don’t be afraid to try out ideas or approach new people or shops. The worst that can happen is that they say no

Here are some of the pros and cons about being self-employed.

Pros:

  • You get the benefit of the work and effort you put in on a day to day basis
  • You’ll be independent and have more control over what you do and when you do it
  • You’ll be able to choose between working full or part-time. You can also set your own hours, and you can end up with a better work/life balance
  • If you’ve got a great idea, you can make it happen 

Cons:

  • The responsibility for success or failure lies with you. You are responsible for losses as well as profits
  • You are unlikely to get paid holidays or sick pay
  • You’ll have no one to manage you to keep you on track or provide support. You could end up working on your own for much of the time
  • You may have less time with your family as business commitments mean you work long hours
  • You will pay your own tax, and with no company pension scheme, you will have to plan your own pension

Before you start anything, take time to think through and plan your venture.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide if self-employment is right for you:

  • Do you know exactly what you’re going to do? 
  • Does it use your strongest skills?
  • Can you make enough money doing it?
  • Do you know where you want to be in five years’ time? Will self-employment help you get there?

If you’re unsure whether self-employment is the career option for you, contact Careers Wales for an online chat with an adviser.  If you want to find out more about self-employment, contact Business Wales.


Where can I get help?

Contact Business Wales to get free business training and start-up advice, including:

  • Help to write a business plan
  • Information on things like business insurances, tax and national insurance you’ll have to pay
  • Checking where you stand legally on issues such as health, staff employment and intellectual property rights

The Development Bank of Wales is backed by Welsh Government and can offer finance to new and growing businesses.  They might be able to help even where other lenders could not.

Find out more about the Development Bank of Wales on their website.


More helpful organisations:

  • Big Ideas Wales can help young people under 25 to start their own business. Get tips and inspiration from those who've already done it
  • Be the Spark has useful information and includes case studies, events and much more to inspire you on starting your own business
  • Startups has some good resources such as blogs, case studies, forums and podcasts to inspire would-be entrepreneurs
  • The Prince’s Trust can give grants as well as help and advice to budding entrepreneurs between 18 and 30 years of age
  • Shell LiveWIRE also advises younger people looking to start in business
  • Enterprise4all helps entrepreneurs from under-represented groups, such as women, people with disabilities, older people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds
  • Disabled Entrepreneurs Network provides networking opportunities and information services for self-employed disabled people
  • Prime Cymru is an initiative aimed at people over 50 starting their own business
Have you got what it takes to start a business?

For further support or careers advice call
0800 028 4844