The Advantages of Being Self-Employed

15% of the UK working population are now self-employed. The number of self-employed people has increased by over a million since 2001 and spiked even higher since the 2008 recession. More and more people are seeing the benefits, aside from pay alone, of earning outside of employment.

Self-employed people are freelance workers or business owners, rather than working for an employer. They can agree on a fixed price for their work with their employer or client and can work for more than one client in non-business attire from the comfort of their own home.

One of the obvious pluses is that you can be your own boss. Self-employed people can choose when they work and have more freedom over how many hours they work. This is attractive in a time where paid overtime in employment is not as common as it was, since many professionals are now expected by their employers to work extra hours for no extra pay.

Self-employed people get to keep the profits they make, whereas people employed by a company are restricted to their hourly or annual pay. They also have more freedom over which client they work for, as they can more easily find new clients or customers rather than start a new job.

When is it the right time to go it alone?

Working for yourself allows people otherwise unfit for office-based employment, such as those with mental or physical health issues, to earn a living without claiming benefits.

The age group with the biggest increase in self-employment since 2001 is the elderly aged 65 and above. A lack of mobility or other health problems stopping them working in fast-paced areas of employment may be a factor. Home is a much less demanding place of work. Working during pensioner age has become the norm, so more people are setting up their own businesses earlier to prepare for later life.

The unemployment rate in the UK is at its lowest since 1975 and the rise in self-employment is a big contributing factor. Self-employment has risen at a much more constant rate since 2007 according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In fact, the number of self-employed workers aged between 16 and 24 has nearly doubled since 2001. It seems that young people favour the flexibility of working on projects they want, when they want to. Popular sectors for freelancers include IT-based work such as app/web development and digital marketing. Many other young people are starting their working lives in creative fields as freelance journalists, copywriters or designers.

While earnings are less than employment, the self-employed are earning more than they were in 2001 in all regions of the UK except in the North West according to government statistics. Let’s not fool ourselves – finances are not the only driving force behind freelance working. Non-financial benefits include less stress from time-pressured or productivity-based employment, less travel expense for home-based jobs and considerably more free time.

Could we see self-employment overtake traditional 9-5 jobs in years to come? One for the futurologists to discuss.

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