Is Self Employment Right for You?

Being self-employed brings with it so many benefits – the ability to manage your own work schedule, meet new people and learn new skills. But is self-employment right for YOU?

Before you hand in your notice and make the jump into self-employment, I’ve put together 5 important questions to ask yourself.

Answer them honestly and you’ll know you are fully prepared to quit your job and move into the world of self-employment.

1. Where is your first client going to come from?  

Being in a regular job means you receive a salary at the end of each month.  

However, when you move to self-employment it’s:

  • Down to you to find your own clients;
  • Deliver the agreed work;
  • Then wait to get paid.

Have you found your first client or what is your plan to find your first client once you quit your job?  Once you have found your first client, is the money sufficient for your living costs and what is your plan to find more work?

2. How much money do you need to live?

Work out how much money you need to live each month (mortgage, bills, food etc).  

Start by listing out all your costs on a simple spreadsheet, maybe add a little contingency in case there are some unexpected costs.  

Bills such as rent, car payments or telephone bills will need to be paid each month on a fixed day, so make sure you have sufficient cash reserves to cover these until you receive your first client payment or regular payments.

Self-employment means your earnings may be lumpy or seasonal, especially in the early days which means potential stress worrying how you will meet your basic bills.

3. What training, equipment and insurance do you need?

Make sure you are properly set up with everything you need to deliver your new work such as a computer or insurance, things which your employer will previously have had covered.

Your clients will expect you to hit the ground running, so make sure you are fully set up with everything you need to avoid disappointment!

Client recommendations and repeat business are two of the best ways to win new business, so always provide the best service you can.

Being self-employed means you are 100% responsible for your work, you won’t have a team with a wide range of skills behind you so make sure you have undertaken all the training you need to offer the best service possible.

4. Have you let HMRC know about your change in circumstances?

HMRC need to know that the way you earn your money has changed and so has the way you need to pay your taxes.  

Rather than having your tax and national insurance deducted from your payslip each month, you will need to notify HMRC of your annual earnings by submitting a personal tax return and pay any tax due in January and July of each year.

Consider how you will manage your taxes and keep accounting records, an accountant would be able to guide you through this process but make sure you budget for their costs.

5. Have you considered your pension and childcare arrangements?

You might be receiving pension contributions from your current employer.  Once you leave employment you need to consider how you will reach a stage where you can save money into a personal pension and who you use as a pension provider.

If you’re planning to take a break from contributing to your pension while you get your business up and running, how will this impact your retirement plan?

When you are self-employed, your working hours can be erratic especially in the early stages of your business.

Have you considered how this will impact your childcare or whether you need to spend more money on childcare while you are working extra hours to get up and running?

Anita Forrest
About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek, money nerd and creator of - the UK small business finance blog for the self-employed community. Here she shares simple, straight-forward guides to make self-employment topics like taxes, bookkeeping and banking easy to understand.