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Becoming self-employed

Have you ever thought about working for yourself? If this is an option for you, get as much advice as possible. 

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The number of people in the UK who are self-employed has risen steeply over the past decade. According to the Office for National Statistics, 4.8 million people were self-employed in 2017. Some people prefer the flexibility working for themselves can bring, others take this option because it’s the usual way to work in their line of business or because they can’t find paid employed work. Of course, some people just have a great business idea! The web has made it easier for people to work for themselves and has opened up new business opportunities. 

Ways to work for yourself

Most people who are self-employed are sole traders or freelancers, but some set up limited companies or partnerships. Other options are to buy into a franchise, or to set up a co-operative or social enterprise.

The way in which you work for yourself is important because it has an impact on your liabilities, and the various rules and regulations you must follow. 

Things to think about before self-employment

  • Draw up a business plan; this is especially important if you need to borrow money.
  • Get as much advice as you can. A good starting point is the Business Support service and information on GOV.UK. Banks are also good sources of advice and HM Revenue & Customs for tax matters.
  • If you need finance, consider applying for a government-backed Start Up Loan; if you get a loan you will also receive business mentoring.
  • If you are on certain benefits and have a good business idea, you may be able to claim funding and support through the New Enterprise Allowance.
  • You could take a course to develop your skills and understanding in your field of work or to prepare you for running a business itself. See what is on offer at institutions locally or consider a free online course.

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