“You work for yourself? Wow – that must be lonely/daunting/challenging.” Over the past 12 years, I’ve heard lots of variations on this theme. And yes, self-employment can be all of the above. Convinced that going solo could never work for you? Read on. You might just be surprised…
Myth 1: You need a ‘big idea’
Actually, you don’t. Lots of self-employed people simply decide to do what they are trained to do on their own terms. Accountancy, HR, graphic design, communications – all lend themselves well to freelance consultancy. Even those with grander ambitions rarely have a completely new idea. More often than not, they spot an existing product or service that works well, then reproduce it on their own turf. For my own part, I went to an interview for a part-time job that didn’t offer as many hours as I needed. The interviewer suggested freelancing so that I could take on other projects. 12 years on and he’s still a client.
Myth 2: It’s all or nothing
Starting a business needn’t (and shouldn’t) be a huge leap of faith. Many people gradually build up their company while they’re still in a job. There’s no shame – and an awful lot of sense – in that. I’ve mixed it up during my own freelance years, juggling client work alongside part-time maternity cover and contract positions. Apparently this is known as a portfolio career, although I never intentionally set out to have one.
Myth 3: We’re all fiercely ambitious workaholics
No desire to be the next Richard Branson? That’s OK. I won’t deny that self-employment demands commitment, discipline and enthusiasm. But – whisper it – very few of us are obsessed with money, power, or recognition. Many small business owners – and I include myself among them – have chosen this path for more modest reasons: it allows us to do what we love in a format that suits our lives and relationships outwith work.
Myth 4: You’re on your own
Oh no you’re not. From starting up (Elevator, Business Gateway and the Federation of Small Businesses) to networking (Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, ABN Community et al), there’s a lot of goodwill and support out there. Need sector-specific advice? Chances are that there’s a forum, group or specialist membership body waiting to welcome you with open arms. Breathe easy. Even when you’re on your own, you can still have a team behind you.
Clare Scott is a Communications Consultant and founder of CJS Communication & Marketing