The 7 Sins Of Self-Employment
The journey to self-employment might be accessible in principle – you need to start working for yourself –, but in practice, it’s a steep path filled with many obstacles that hinder your way to success. Indeed, while you might be projecting your wildest dreams into the future, the truth is self-employment is a b*tch.
It doesn’t matter how much of an expert you are in your field. Being an expert in the office doesn’t mean you’re going to earn big as an independent professional. When you quit your comfortable desk job to make a living on your own, you need to be ready to learn fast. Self-employment is a new world, and, more importantly, it’s a world that works like nothing you’ve seen before. As a result, you might find yourself making terrible mistakes as you learn to navigate your way through the troubled waters of an independent career.
Ultimately, every person who has embraced their self-employment dream would have committed one or more of the independent professionals’ sins. Self-employment sins tend to be born out of lack of knowledge and preparation, but they can have a lasting repercussion on your career. If you are considering moving your career away from managerial hierarchy and take matters into your own hands, now’s the best time to discover and understand the costly errors to avoid.
#1. Taxes are like hell on earth
When you are directly employed by a company, taxes become the last of your worries. You might never have to prepare any self-assessment calculation if your employed position was your sole income-generating activity. As a consequence, when you first become self-employed, the absence of PAYE solution means that you become responsible for not only sharing information with the HMRC about your earnings but also figuring out how much you owe them. If you’re not familiar with juggling percentages and accounting rules, you won’t be able to very far without dedicated self-employed and contractor accountants to support you. For newcomers to the liberating world of self-employment, taxes can get highly complicated, and they feel anything but liberating. They’re hellishly tricky to understand without appropriate background. Therefore, the first mistake to avoid is to try to understand and manage all of it by yourself.
#2. Who’s da boss?
No more awkward boss conversation, no more internal politics to fear. Being your own boss has its advantages. But it also poses a serious issue. You’re not only the boss. You’re the primary employee in your very own independent business. Unfortunately, too many self-employed professionals can forget their priorities and get too self-focused on the managerial side of things. While you get to appreciate that you don’t need to report to anybody anymore – aside from your clients –, it’s important to remember the little things that you used to appreciate as an employee. You are the soul of your business, and from time to time, you also need to make room for self-rewards to keep yourself motivated.
#3. Social media is the new forbidden fruit
There’s no denying that you can’t pursue a successful independent career without turning your social media presence into a proactive playground to find partners, leads, clients and gigs. However, while social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, for instance, offer a fantastic networking opportunity to spread out your wings and shout out about your portfolio. While freelancers don’t keep track of the time they spent on social media, 89% of employees surveyed in 2014 report using social media at lot at work. It’s easy to assume that the amount people now waste on social media has multiplied over the year, and that include self-employed professionals too. Discipline and smart URL blocking plugins are your best allies to manage your time!
#4. Every day is a work day
You embraced self-employment with delight, believing it was the key to professional freedom. No more 9 to 5 days! Well, you were wrong. Freelancers tend to work longer hours than most people. You will find yourself clocking 12 hours or more of work per day, every day, including weekends and bank holidays. Sick days become a thing of the past. When you work for yourself, you become hyper-aware of your time. The time that isn’t spent working on income-generating projects is wasted – even though the mind might not register online distractions as a waste of time. But overworking yourself is never going to bring success. On the contrary, you need time to relax and recharge your batteries.
#5. So much freedom and no responsibility
Being your own boss eliminates the hierarchic duties. But don’t assume you’re free to do as you please. You have responsibilities towards your clients and the people around you if you work on an external site. As a result, it would be foolish to pursue your independent career without the protection of public liability and professional indemnity insurance cover. Indeed, if you accidentally damage your client’s laptop during a meeting, your public liability insurance can cover the costs. Additionally, if your client encounters financial loss as a result of faulty advice you gave, your professional indemnity insurance can protect you.
#6. A world of free ideas
The first thing that self-employed professionals notice is how quickly they can find new ideas once they’ve left the everyday stress of the office. More importantly, as an independent, your ideas don’t need to be shared with a manager who could claim credit for your thoughts. However, your ideas are the core of your freelancing activities. Sharing makes your income. But sharing without a protective patent for products or copyrights for texts is self-destruction.
#7. Work outfit? I wear PJ’s all day long
Goodbye office wear. You can finally wear what you want at home! But it’s best to leave your unicorn-onesie on the hook if you want to be productive during the day. You need to dress for the part, firstly to take yourself seriously but also to help your mind to get in the right working mood. Ultimately, if you wear clothes that you associate with relaxation, you can’t expect to achieve your best results.
From misunderstanding your tax statement to wearing your cosiest onesie to work, the path to sustainable freelancing is paved with the strangest obstacles. But remember: you are responsible for building your self-employment experience. These benign sins will turn a promising career into a job from hell!