What’s it like being self employed?  The reality, not the fiction.   If you’re thinking of taking the plunge then have a real good think about it!

When you are self employed you will at times feel like you’re spinning hundreds of plates on sticks. It can be really overwhelming initially and throughout your working life.

If you’re not committed to it- unfortunately it won’t work for you. To be successful you will need to be aware at all times of where the next piece of work or sale is coming from. This will be something to fall back on if business dries up.

Self employed

You can choose to be self-employed for a short or long time.  If you decide to expand you may want to look at hiring staff to help you grow a bigger business.

Becoming self-employed for the wrong reasons.

Just because you love something does not mean you should convert it into a business. You can get excited about what you want to do but make sure it’s viable.

Business experience?

You must wear several different hats to run a business effectively. It’s not just the professional skills that provide a good service.  For example, one of the most important areas of self-employment is to really understand the industry you work in- not forgetting trends in the marketplace.  Overall, always bear in mind that if you don’t grow your business knowledge it can be detrimental to the success of your business. Talk to other successful business folk or you could even get a coach or business mentor onboard.


Anyone who has ever overseen a successful event knows that fail to plan= plan to fail.  The same could be said of most business successes.  It is critical for all businesses to have a business plan even if it is a rudimentary 2 to 3-page plan. The point is that you have looked at all the aspects of your business and are prepared to handle problems when/if they arise.  It will help you to focus on your goals and your vision, as well as setting out plans to accomplishing them. Revisit your plan at least annually to see where you are.

Work-life balance when self employed

You may find yourself working every day as you are not only responsible for selling your product or service you are also in charge of all the other stuff too.  Work-life-balance is really important for your health, & well being. Your physical and mental health are more important than just making money.


Allocate paid time off to you for every full month of work (like most of the companies do).

Time management

Putting off tasks that you do not enjoy will sink your business faster than an Olympic sprinter going round the track! DO NOT waste time on unimportant tasks while critical ones pile up. They all need to be done; if you do not like to do them  hire someone to do them.

Bad luck

Changes in external circumstances which you could not have predicted, can also be a problem as a self-employed person you have no automatic entitlement to sick pay.

Consider the risks for you:

Draw up a risk register to assess the risks these pose to your chances of success.  Update this regularly  to see which risks have increased/ decreased and why.  Capitalise on your successful strategies to limit risks to your business and reduce those still significant enough to do damage to your  goal.

Factors to consider:

  • What risks have you identified?
  • Cause of risk?
  • Chances this risk will affect your plans or your business (why note assess the chance on a scale from 1-10)?
  • How severe would the impact be on your plans or business (e.g. truly little, some, a lot but can you survive)?
  • How to limit effects of this risk?
  • Can you accept and manage any remaining risks after you take action?
  • If not, do you need to get support or advice on how to change you plan or business model?

Practical Suggestions

  • Have two computer logins on your PC or laptop – one for business, one for social E.g. Facebook on the social login only.
  • You will need two email addresses – one for business and one for social. Have separate calendars and contact lists.
  • Two mobile numbers– one for business and one for social (business calls may be tax deductible?)
  • Force yourself to work office hours – set yourself a start time and end time for every day (for as many days as you need to work) and schedule your breaks (or arrange network meetings at breaks or lunch).
  • Project manage your work i.e. plan out what needs doing how and when and schedule your time to achieve this.
  • Make a separate office space in the house to work in or consider hiring or sharing space with others.
  • You can rent office space for work or meetings and even have ‘virtual office’ spaces as your registered business address.
  • Schedule social meetings to make sure you keep yourself fresh and revitalised.

Employment contract

Draw up a contract of employment with the most important person in your business, yourself.  This will focus your thoughts on how you will manage your working days to achieve your goals.   Once completed, why not ask one of your business network to review it with for more advice on the reality of a self-employed persons life style?  Check out out thoughts on what to include

Job Title
Normal Place of Work
Normal Hours of Work:
• Monday – Friday
• Weekends
• Bank Holidays
• Scheduled breaks
Annual Holiday Allowance
Work resources provided:
• Telephone
• Laptop
• Transport
• Other
Allowable expenses/Pay – What have you budgeted for?
Benefits Package (e.g. what will you do/allow yourself to celebrate what milestones in your plan?)
What other benefits will you have – e.g. Pension contributions, professional development plan.


To sum up, self employment has personal, lifestyle risks and impact, what in life doesn’t?  This personal and lifestyle impacts, need to be considered and dealt with.

There are sources of support and advice already around for you (often completely free of charge).

Check the links for help with money issues and mental health, there are a variety of different support organisations  

Get in touch with us to find out more about navigating and dealing with your risks.  For more business and finance , news, advice and tips, don’t forget to watch our weekly broadcasts, listen to our weekly podcast I Hate Numbers.

Pro Active Resolutions

The Numbers Crew – Here to help you!