A small enterprise information to going freelance

When you’ve got been reviewing your profession and excited about not simply altering jobs however taking the plunge to work for your self, or if you happen to merely haven’t had the arrogance to take the leap prior to now, Dave Chaplin, CEO and founding father of ContractorCalculator, an internet website that gives free recommendation and knowledge for freelancers and contractors, provides you some meals for thought which may simply provide the push it’s worthwhile to lastly go freelance.

Everlasting staff contemplating making the leap into self-employment usually assume they don’t have the appropriate expertise, gained’t discover work, can’t afford it or are too younger/too outdated. There’s all the time loads of nagging ‘causes’ to justify laying aside the concern of the unknown.

Nonetheless, there are almost 2 million freelancers presently working for themselves within the UK and plenty of of these would inform any wannabe freelancer, in case you have a marketable talent that an organisation would profit from utilizing on a fixed-term or mission foundation, then you’ll be able to grow to be a freelancer.

And typically, if you happen to consider the worst potential final result and the way you’d overcome it, you uncover that the one factor stopping you from taking the plunge is definitely concern of the unknown and concern of failure. Do you actually wish to go one other entire 12 months with out giving it a attempt?

1. Abilities obstacles – having transferable expertise

Earlier than you concentrate on freelancing, ask your self what expertise you may have that may very well be marketable. To go freelance, it’s worthwhile to have a recognised and probably area of interest talent that’s in demand within the labour market, and which might be transferred out of your employer to your first and subsequent shoppers.

Many would-be freelancers is likely to be postpone freelancing or contracting as a result of they’ve heard that solely expertise that may be utilized on a mission foundation are marketable. This can be a fantasy. There are many roles on the market that want a contractor to assist handle capability, or to cowl for an worker who can’t work for an prolonged interval, maybe due to an inner secondment, maternity go away or long-term sick go away. And, in case you are a journalist for instance, you’ll be able to work on numerous written briefs for numerous publications – you’re a confirmed author at the beginning.

2. Lack of expertise

Some staff imagine that they’ve acquired the transferable expertise that may be appropriate for freelancing or contracting, however lack the expertise in making use of them. And plenty of could be proper.

Purchasers are on the lookout for somebody who has been there and performed it, and might hit the bottom working. They wish to know their contractor can run the whole mission from begin to end with out having to be instructed what to do or can take a quick and ship the requisite final result by a given deadline.

Expertise may help and it could solely take months and never years, and can make you rather more marketable.

Upon getting made the transition to work for your self, then you will discover that every position provides to your expertise and expertise. You can even preserve your expertise up to date via formal coaching that you’ll select and fund your self. You may additionally acquire ‘expertise’ by making use of these new expertise on present initiatives, probably free of charge as a gesture of goodwill to the consumer.

3. Promoting your self – ‘I gained’t be capable to discover any contracts’

When you’ve got received the appropriate expertise and expertise, then discovering work needs to be straightforward. There are actually 1000’s of job boards, each broad and specialised, to look, and recruitment businesses which are on the lookout for contractors with precisely your expertise.

You’ll need to create a ‘killer CV’ and hone your contract interview strategies, as a result of they’re very completely different from what you could have been used to as an worker. However there may be loads of assist and recommendation obtainable.

Many first-timers obtain some knock-backs and rejections within the first weeks and months of their freelance profession, however it’s a studying curve. For those who persevere and apply the assistance and recommendation that’s obtainable, then you will discover work.

4. Cash worries – ‘I can’t afford to begin a enterprise’

Beginning up by yourself within the UK is extremely low-cost. All you want is to:

…and you’re in enterprise. Probably, that may all be performed in a couple of hours.

Opening a checking account is free, and also you’ll often get a interval with no financial institution fees. The beginning-up prices needs to be no barrier, and some months of saving will cowl these.

The truth is, many accountants supply ‘first three months and firm incorporation free’ sort offers, and insurance coverage can often be paid month-to-month and never up entrance as a lump sum.

The true monetary barrier it’s possible you’ll encounter just isn’t discovering work for the primary few months that it takes to seek out your first contract, and you must fund your dwelling prices. Many self-help gurus say that, ‘The most effective time for change is NOW’. This can be true, however it’s important to have a monetary cushion as a result of it lets you have choices.

So, earlier than leaving your job, it’s best to guarantee that you’ve got a minimum of two and ideally six months of dwelling prices as money financial savings within the financial institution.

Associated: How freelancers need to get saving for their pension

5. Age is only a quantity – ‘I’m too outdated/younger to go contracting’

Sadly, regardless of the apparent advantages of expertise and the laws in place to fight it, ‘ageism’ persists. In case you are older if you make the leap, play to these benefits and strengths that include your expertise, relatively than those who focus purely on cutting-edge talent.

You could imagine that you’re too younger to go freelance, however that is no barrier. In case your expertise meet the demand curve on the proper level, then you’re going to get employed. There are occasions when demand is excessive and provide is low when information employees with only some years of work-place expertise get employed. And more and more, extra graduates are organising on their very own straight out of college and this graduate information will assist.

Expertise additionally will depend on perspective and circumstance. A recent graduate working in the appropriate organisation on a cutting-edge mission could acquire extra expertise in a 12 months than one other will acquire in two years in a distinct organisation.

Purchasers are more and more recognising the advantages of expertise alongside a recent perspective, so there’s a place for each older and youthful freelancers on mission groups.

For instance, in advertising and marketing youthful folks could also be extra in tune with the digital features of promoting and fewer on the technique and enterprise success of a advertising and marketing communications marketing campaign. Older freelancers carry deep information and enterprise experience.

6. Different obstacles – credit score and safety checks

In some roles, it’s possible you’ll discover obstacles that you just can’t instantly or ever overcome, however these won’t be a barrier to you turning into a freelancer or contractor. Typical examples embody credit score and safety clearance.

When you’ve got a poor private credit score historical past, maybe since you had a enterprise that failed leaving you with substantial money owed, then it’s unlikely you’ll safe a job with a monetary sector consumer. You’ll be able to work to enhance your credit standing over time so that will get you to the purpose when your credit score historical past will now not be a barrier.

There are some assignments that require safety clearance. This could be a protracted course of taking many months, and it’s possible you’ll in the end fail to safe clearance for causes which are utterly past your management.

Neither of those needs to be obstacles to organising by yourself. There are many contracts obtainable throughout all expertise and disciplines that don’t require credit score checking or safety clearance.

Taking the plunge: The individuals who went freelance

What’s it wish to tackle a contract life-style after beforehand working for another person? Right here, we take a look at the experiences of the individuals who made it work.

Lauren Pope, Freelance Content material Strategist

Web site: La Pope

Content marketing

I work with shoppers to assist them make nice digital content material via a mixture of technique, inventive, optimisation and adjustments to their methods of working.

Earlier than this, I used to be doing very related work as head of content material at a digital technique company. I’d been there for 5 years and – whereas I cherished my the corporate and colleagues – I used to be prepared for a change.

I felt that making an attempt to serve my shoppers, handle my staff, contribute to the event of the company and have a life exterior work was turning into a plate-spinning act, partially as a result of I needed to journey a lot (46 enterprise flights in 2017). I used to be placing an enormous quantity of vitality and energy in, however wasn’t taking away as a lot satisfaction as I wished. I realised that I used to be missing a way of which means in my work – so I made a decision to go freelance to see if being my very own boss may change that.

When it comes to the precise work I do for shoppers, the abilities have been completely transferable – I’m doing quite a lot of the identical work as I did earlier than. I’ve needed to resurrect some expertise I haven’t used for some time (like Google Analytics and Excel) as a result of I labored with specialists who dealt with these kinds of issues earlier than. I additionally realised that I’d absorbed some expertise in issues like enterprise growth, mission administration, and consumer service from my good former colleagues. Realizing how you can do a correct correct estimate and how you can resolve what a consumer wants have been actually useful.

Establishing as a freelancer

I used to be fairly spontaneous when it got here to organising as a freelancer. The thought had been floating round for some time, however I hadn’t thought of it deeply. To paraphrase the immortal phrases of Craig David: I made my thoughts up on Wednesday, talked to my husband on Thursday, and handed in my discover on Friday.

As quickly as I’d performed that, I began planning correctly. I spent a while excited about what my providing could be and who I wished to work with. I made myself a one-page web site as a manner of serving to me via that thought course of. I additionally spent numerous time speaking to buddies and friends: utilizing them as a sounding board, and studying from their experiences of freelancing. I wrote a weblog put up to announce that I used to be going freelance, which I revealed and shared on my networks a few days after I left my job. This prompted fairly a couple of folks to get in contact with leads, which helped me create a pipeline of alternatives. I used to be working just about from day one after I left, which I didn’t count on and was an enormous reduction from a monetary viewpoint.

“I spent quite a lot of time researching day charges and agonising about what mine needs to be”

On the finance and admin facet of issues, I registered with HMRC early on and tried as greatest I may to teach myself about tax (I really feel like I don’t know almost sufficient about this nonetheless). I additionally had a great take a look at my funds and made myself a brand new funds for my private spending to tide me over till I received paid for the primary time. I spent quite a lot of time researching day charges and agonising about what mine needs to be. Every week or two earlier than I went freelance, I set myself up with FreeAgent for my bookkeeping and sorted out my insurance coverage.

There are many execs to being freelance. I really like being my very own boss, the push it’s given me to develop, with the ability to work when and the place I would like. The most important one is that I’m getting the sense of which means I wished from my work. My first massive new enterprise ‘win’ was for a charity, and it’s actually motivating to know that if I do my job proper, I can have a constructive impression.

The cons are a continuing background sense of dread and fear about cash, being profitable, whether or not I’m adequate! Nonetheless, I felt all these issues earlier than I used to be freelance too – the distinction is that now, they’re all just about solely underneath my management. That may be empowering or terrifying, relying on the day.

For different folks making the swap to freelance, I’d most likely counsel not making a call fairly as rapidly as I did – I want I’d spent extra time saving up and getting ready. I’d additionally say to attempt to not take your eye utterly off the brand new enterprise pipeline if you’re getting caught right into a mission, it’s worthwhile to have new work coming down the road – that is one thing I’m making an attempt to get the cling of in the intervening time too.

Natalie Sharp, Advertising Marketing consultant

Web site: Sharp Thinking Marketing

Natalie Sharp

This 12 months I arrange Sharp Pondering Advertising, a advertising and marketing consultancy primarily based in Tunbridge Wells for small companies.

Previous to this, I’d been on a profession break and had been a full time mum to 2 women Lana and Laurel for 5 years. I had quickly stepped away from the company world, however longed to get again into it. I like my women, however wished to utilize my expertise and naturally, the cash would come in useful.

Nonetheless, I knew I wished to do it in a different way, on my phrases, guaranteeing it fitted round household life. Having moved right here six years in the past from London, my husband now commutes into London every day and is gone 15 hours every day. So, it was important for me to nonetheless be capable to do the nursery and faculty run, plus I nonetheless wished my kids to have the ability to go to their swimming classes and dance courses. The pure step was to arrange my very own enterprise. The plan was to mix my ardour for advertising and marketing and serving to companies obtain new issues, with freelance and versatile working.

“As a marketer, I knew it was essential to showcase my expertise and apply what I preach”

I discovered the transition extraordinarily straightforward and have by no means appeared again. My 15 years’ expertise – a mixture of company and consumer facet roles, with some contracting, allowed me to make the transfer seamlessly. It appeared just like the pure transition. I had all the time wished to arrange my very own consultancy.

As a marketer, I knew it was essential to showcase my expertise and apply what I preach. I began off writing a marketing strategy which helped massively. It enabled me to outline my providing and form my product and companies and develop my advertising and marketing technique. I additionally researched the market to know my opponents and pricing. As soon as I had accomplished this, my first process was to create my model. I used to be lucky sufficient to be married to a inventive director so had entry to some invaluable experience. Though typically mixing enterprise with pleasure might be difficult!

I then embarked upon creating a web site. This was the thrilling half – my dream was lastly turning into the truth. Then, I developed all my company stationery. As soon as I felt prepared and had a content material plan in place, I arrange my social media profiles. I now may have interaction with my audience. Social media gives so many alternatives, however it’s worthwhile to be dedicated to it and be affected person. After all, there are all of the admin/arrange duties to finish as properly so that you consistently must be juggling hats.

The professionals and cons of freelancing


There are a lot of execs and cons of flying solo, however the advantages by far out manner any disadvantages. You get to decide on the place and if you work (inside cause!). Most significantly, this can be very motivating and empowering to be your individual boss. Solely you’re within the driving seat and deciding your subsequent transfer. Plus, it permits me to work flexibly from house across the kids.

On the draw back, it may be robust producing enterprise and sporting a number of hats – having to do all your individual gross sales and advertising and marketing, finance, IT and admin. After all you don’t get any firm advantages comparable to vacation or sick pay. It isn’t for everybody. For those who lone to be a part of a staff and thrive off working carefully with different staff members, then the freelance life-style can typically be isolating. Nonetheless, there are issues you are able to do to make sure you don’t really feel alone and remind your self, there are a whole lot of individuals in the identical place as you. Being a part of a community may help. Be a part of native networking teams in your space and on-line.

My recommendation could be, in case you are excited about going freelance, go for it, I’ve by no means appeared again. However, be affected person, and be ready to place the work in. It takes time to ascertain your self. Remind your self constantly, will probably be price it in the long term.

Freelancers within the UK – Who’re they?

  • There are about 1.9 million of them: They contribute some £150 billion to the broad financial system
  • There are extra males than ladies: The ratio was roughly 3:2 originally of the 2020s, though the proportion of feminine freelancers has elevated steadily for the reason that Nineties and continues to edge in direction of parity
  • 15 per cent of them are working mums: That’s simply over 1 / 4 of one million moms balancing freelance work and kids.
  • Virtually half of them are aged between 40 and 59: The common age of a UK freelancer is estimated to be 48 years. Over 60s characterize c. 22 per cent of the whole.
  • The most important group by broad occupation are these concerned within the ‘Inventive, Literary, and Media’ sectors: These freelancers represented roughly 17 per cent of the whole. The following greatest occupational group was ‘Managers and Administrators’ (12 per cent), adopted by ‘Instructing and Training professionals’ (7 per cent), and ‘Sports activities and Health’ (5 per cent).
  • Self employed employees reached a peak on the finish of 2020: After year-on-year constant progress for 20 years, the Covid pandemic noticed numbers tumble to 2015 ranges (c. 4.4 million as of Could 2023)

Additional Assets on Going Freelance

Freelancer loneliness and how you can sort out it – We discover the extent of freelancer loneliness within the UK and what three solo entrepreneurs do to take care of the difficulty.

The top 5 UK cities to be a freelancer – Analysis into which cities are most conducive for these trying to pursue a extra versatile work life.

A newbie’s information to beginning a contract profession – Dave Chaplin explains the fundamentals on how you can set your freelance price, the significance of tailoring your CV, and the place to seek out your subsequent mission.

Number of self-employed workers in the UK – Statista lays out the numbers from 1992 to 2023. Freelancers usually characterize roughly 45 per cent of the self employed complete in any given 12 months.

Therapeutic the connection between companies and freelancers – George Olver, co-founder of Movidiam, explores why poor practices concerning freelancers may very well be stifling the worldwide inventive trade.

Helpful organisations for assist and recommendation

IPSE – The Affiliation of Unbiased Professionals and the Self-Employed
FCSA – The Freelancer & Contractor Companies Affiliation
Leapers – Supporting the psychological well being of freelancers and the self-employed