Self Employment

Welcome to our section on self-employment. Becoming self employed, or turning to freelancing or consulting is a great way to gain flexibility. You can work when, where, how and even if you want. It allows you to slow the pace of your working life, whilst still keeping up with your career and maintaining your earnings level.

There are lots of reasons why people choose self employment. Perhaps you’re returning to work after a break, or you want to have greater flexibility over how and when you work. Some people choose self employment after 50 because they are finding it more difficult to find the right job to suit them.

Here we examine self employed jobs for over 50s, business ideas for over 50s plus all the pros, cons of self employed jobs

In this guide:


Benefits of self employment

There’s no doubt that being your own boss is a great feeling, especially if you’ve spent a long time in the workplace reporting to other people. It’s nice to feel that your success is entirely down to your own skills and hard work.

You’re also in control of your own working days, how much time off and holiday you have, and when and where you choose to work. It’s worth noting that a lot of self employed people end up working longer hours than they initially anticipated – but that’s usually because they recognise that the more they work, the more they can potentially earn.

Being self employed is fulfilling, yet challenging, unpredictable and rewarding. Research suggests that the self employed are the happiest people in the workforce.

Disadvantages of self employment

The main disadvantage of self employment is that it’s a riskier way to work. You can’t guarantee your income from month to month, and there are factors beyond your control that can affect your profits. There’s also less support for you as an individual – no sick pay, holiday pay or other employee benefits.

Getting started can also be frustrating, as it usually takes time to build up a customer base, get processes in place and there’s often money to be spent before you’ve started earning.

How to go self employed over 50

Because of those disadvantages, it’s unwise to decide to go self-employed on a whim. This is something that needs careful consideration and planning before you take the plunge. It’s much more complex than simply deciding to register as self employed.

There are two vital components that you need from the start: a good business idea and financial stability.

Self employment ideas

Self employment ideas for over 50-year-olds are a little different than they might be for younger entrepreneurs. You’re probably less likely to pursue highly physical jobs like landscape gardening or personal training – but there are exceptions to every rule!

The secret to happy self employment is to build a business that matches your passions or interests. If you love animals, perhaps a pet care or grooming business would suit you. If you’re a creative person you could make and sell things, or teach others your skills. You might have business skills that enable you to become a freelancer – in which case, read this useful article.

If you don’t currently have an idea of what your self-employed role could be, do a little research. You’ll find that there are a lot of jobs on recruitment websites where you are self employed and paid based on your output. Some of these can be a good way to get started, but check carefully what the potential earnings are and, if possible, speak to others doing the job for insight into what it’s really like.

Self employment and franchising

If you like the idea of self employment but don’t have a business idea in mind, it’s worth taking a look at franchise opportunities. Franchising for the over 50s is a growing area, and there are all kinds of business ideas out there.

With a franchise, you buy a successful business brand and start it up in a new area. Many household names are franchise businesses, and there are lots of companies that are ideal for older people with lots of life experience and work skills.

Examples include arts and craft classes, tutoring work, admin services, food franchises, travel services and much more. A little research could uncover the perfect business opportunity for you.

Self employment tax and finances

An important part of self employment is managing money. You must register as self employed with HMRC, and you are then responsible for tax self assessment and filing a tax return each year.

Doing so means that you need to keep good records of the payments coming into your business and what you’re spending. The government’s Making Tax Digital programme means that these records must be made online, so seek advice from an accountant. There are many low-cost accounting packages that will make this process easy.

Many self employed people choose to have an accountant manage all their finances so that they don’t run into any trouble. There are lots of rules and allowances that accountants are aware of too, so it’s well worth seeking their services.

Stay financially safe

The other important financial consideration is to make sure that you aren’t putting yourself at too much financial risk. When you’re starting a business aged over 50 you need to make sure that you have enough money available to see you through the early months when income is low, and that you can continue to plan ahead and invest for your retirement. 

You may need a business loan to get started, in which case you should seek good advice on how much you need, the suitability of the interest rate and the repayment schedule. The general rule is to plan for the worst, hope for the best!

There’s plenty of useful advice on these pages for you in finding self employed work and starting your own business. We wish you the best of luck!

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