3 Unexpected self-employment struggles
Taking the plunge into self-employment can be a liberating step. It can also be a scary leap into the unknown. While you eagerly anticipate setting your own schedule, working from home, doing admin in your pyjamas and being your own boss, there is a whole heap of downsides you might not be factoring into your grand plans.
As with any job, self-employment comes with a brilliant array of benefits, but also more negatives than you can shake a stick at (it’s still work, after all). Autonomy, flexibility and a sense of personal achievement are absolutely worth making the jump for, but it’s also important to have a balanced view of what working for yourself will be like. No sick pay, holidays and maternity leave are all obvious downsides - so too is the looming spectre of Doing Your Own Tax… However, there are lots of self-employment struggles a new freelancer may not think of...
- The guilt
At your old job you probably experienced lifestyle FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) looking at the social media posts of your freelance friends. Submitting invoices on a beach in Bali, designing websites from a iridescently green mountainside in Slovenia… These seemingly carefree individuals can go where they want,when they want, right? Wrong.
While many self-employed people enjoy a great deal of flexibility - and can even make digital nomad lifestyles work for them - there is no escaping The Guilt. Regular employment entitles you to a set wage for set hours, but if self-employed people aren’t working - they aren’t earning. Even while scuba diving in the Solomon Islands, there’s a good chance that there’s a niggling voice in a self-employed persons’ head telling them that they should really be working.
- Money matters
No, we’re not talking about the horrorshow which is completing your tax returns. We’re talking about the unexpected finance struggles which impact the self-employed. Whether you’re renting a property or taking out a loan, you’ll need to jump through more hoops than you’re used to just to prove your income. Some loan providers won’t lend to self-employed individuals, more mainstream services like Wonga will accept self-employed applicants if evidence of affordability can be provided. This often means printing off months’ worth of bank statements to prove your income, whenever you move house or require a financial service.
- Social skills
Many people who choose a self-employed lifestyle (especially one which involves working independently from home) like the idea of peace and quiet. Enjoying respite from the burbling of your colleague’s questionable radio station choice, well away from endless enquiries about your past or future weekend activities, is some peoples’ idea of professional bliss. Even still, be prepared for your social skills to change as you spend more time in self-employed solitude.
In a conventional workplace, you are forced to socialise and get along with people from outside of your chosen social circle. As a self-employed individual, besides having clients to butter up, you’ll find that you only need to socialise with people you actually like. This might sound great, but over time, you can find yourself losing the ability (and inclination!) to step outside of your social bubble, brush off those dusty interpersonal skills and experience people from a range of backgrounds. Joining a diverse evening class or club is a good way to alleviate this anti-social issue and escape the friendship echo chamber!