“The best part of self-employment is being able to choose who I work with. I choose to work for teams with strong ethics, a desire to make positive change, and who have a realistic chance of doing so.”
I’ve been self-employed twice, once in 2017 and right now as of spring this year. Both have been some of the most rewarding times of my career. I’ve worked for politicians in Parliament, CEOs in some of the world’s biggest companies, and ambitious startups, but none of these compare to the opportunities and challenges of working for myself.
My work has focused on providing consultancy advice in the areas of Government Affairs, Communications and Business Development. I have both broad and deep experience in these areas but sometimes it can be daunting to step into a room with ministers, journalists or investors on behalf of a client without a team or big brand name behind you. You have to be confident in your abilities, comfortable working with less structure and guidance, and excited to be building something new.
The best part of self-employment is being able to choose who I work with. This has mainly been with startups and, as clients, they expect a high level of both expertise and energy. Luckily, this is exactly what’s needed to enjoy being self-employed. I also choose to work for teams with strong ethics, a desire to make positive change, and who have a realistic chance of doing so. This has sometimes led to me investing in startups, which adds a whole different dimension to a relationship. Working with clients on a common endeavour in this way brings a sense of opportunity and adventure that is hard to get through any other work.
The downside of self-employment is the additional bureaucracy. As an employee, it’s easy to take for granted how much paperwork is done for you: things like tax, pension arrangements, student loan repayments etc. This is all necessary and time-consuming work, and is costly if you get it wrong. Looking back on my first experience of self-employment, I wanted to make sure I had more support this time. That is part of why I joined Community, and they have fantastic resources and support staff in these areas. The other reason is the sense of solidarity with other self-employed workers. We often go unnoticed when it comes to policy and government support, but it has never been more important to join together, not only in our own interests, but to make things better for this vital part of the economy in the future.
“When you’re self employed, if there’s no work to do, you’re effectively unemployed. But there’s no support for freelancers who are momentarily unemployed. We can’t claim job seekers allowance, because seeking a new customer isn’t the same as seeking regular employment.”