Self employment versus employment

Is self-employment or employment best? How do you know if the self-employed life is for you? We take a look at the pros and cons of both options.

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Is self employment for you or do you respond best to the security of employed work? We look at some of the pros and cons.

Advantages of Self-employment

There are many advantages to becoming self employed, including the chance to work on something you are passionate about and which you can tailor around your life since no-one but you is setting your hours.

You may have to work hard, at the very least at first, to establish your business, but you can work hard around your other responsibilities rather than being restricted by the traditional 9 to 5 office hours.

One key advantage is the freedom and independence working for yourself gives you. You are no longer beholden to managers setting the rules and can develop your own ideas and may be able to be more innovative.

Of course, this does not mean you have not got responsibilities. In fact, if you employ others your sense of responsibility may be greater than ever.

Self-employment can also mean that the successes you may have and the challenges you overcome can be more personally fulfilling since you have been involved in every step towards achieving them.

Disadvantages of self-employment

One disadvantage is the the fact that you will probably have to work harder than ever before to establish your business in the first place. Most business owners say they are on a steep learning curve to get to grips with all aspects of the business. You need to understand everything from marketing to finances.

Although you can delegate some of these areas, you will need to understand them to some extent so that you can have an overview of how your business is developing.

You will need to be interested in continuous learning and have a desire to stay ahead of the game through networking and researching what your competitors are doing.

Another potential disadvantage is that you may not be able to afford to take holidays or sick leave.

Working for yourself can lead to feelings of isolation, but through networking effectively with others via local business groups or social networking you can break down some of this isolation.

Self-employment also offers the element of risk. Many businesses fail in their first year. One way round this is to start off by running a franchise. Franchises have a much higher rate of success and combine the freedoms of running your own business with a structure which is tried and tested.

Advantages of Employment

The key advantages of working for someone else are perks such as sick pay, holiday pay and paid parental leave. You are also more likely to be part of a team and enjoy more peer support.

Job security can be viewed as a major advantage of being employed. Whereas self-employment offers risk and challenges, employment is generally more secure and offers a structure for self-advancement.

Disadvantages of employment

The disadvantages of employment for many working parents is that the work may not offer the degree of flexibility they think they need. For instance, most employers do not offer sufficient holidays to cover school holidays, even if you are sharing these between two parents.

There are constant feelings of guilt and stress if you have to take time off for sick children or other caring responsibilities such as elder care.

You may also feel less motivated working for someone else than for yourself, particularly if your employer does not understand the kind of stresses you are facing at home.

Employers are, however, changing and many recognise the issues parents and carers face and are intent on keeping their expertise in the business.

There is a good business case for employers to do what they can to ensure their workers are motivated in their jobs. If this means offering more flexibility then they are increasingly willing to do this.

The reality is that the decision over whether to work for someone or for yourself is a very personal one and boils down to your own circumstances and personality.

You know best how you work best, what inspires and motivates you, so think carefully about the level of risk you are willing to take on to achieve your goals.

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