Calling all self-employed folks - does it work for you?

(42 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Sep-08 11:33:50

We know there are quite a few Mumsnetters who've gone down the self-employed route either by choice, or necessity and for the Home Front research we'd love to know how it's worked out for you. Did you (or your partner) get maternity/ paternity leave?

What are the great things/ and the not so great things about being self- employed?

What, if anything, would help you/your partner as a self-employed person, to combine work and family life more effectively..

Over to you smile

thumbwitch Mon 22-Sep-08 14:30:09

Was part self-employed (massage therapist) and part employed (lecturer and sub-editor) when I was pg; got stat mat pay from my employment for 9m. After that, had to go freelance because I didn't want to go back to the office so now am totally self-employed.

no need for external childcare
lots of time spent with DS
flexibility on both jobs

insecure income
inability to focus my time successfully because of taking care of DS
insufficient sleep because do work after DS has gone to bed (oh yes - and spend too much time on MN)

Wouldn't change it though - luckily DH is on reasonable income with O/T option.

Fleecy Mon 22-Sep-08 14:34:01

I'm a freelance copywriter - working from home. DD was two last week, DS is nearly 6 months.

- I can fit my hours in around the children (I don't have childcare) so I'm always here for them.
- I have no commute and no morning rush.
- No office politics.
- When I was employed I'd get endless rounds of legal comments and amends on each piece of work (mostly financial services). Now I get to do the creative stuff then that's usually it!
- The money's better as a freelancer.

- No social life! I have to work evenings and weekends. And no office social life either. No free Christmas parties!
- No security. You never know when you're getting the next job.
- No time off!

I agree childcare vouchers for self-employed people would be handy.

Porpoise Mon 22-Sep-08 14:38:27

Both Dh and I are self-employed, which is both lovely and bloody scary.

Can 'box and cox' childcare between us
Often both at home in the day
Can take/meet kids to/from school

Income wobbles up and down quite a lot
Workload unpredictable so can't plan more than a couple of weeks ahead (and have often had to cancel holidays)
Can be lonely (unless I get some office shifts)
Easy to get distracted by home chores

WheresTheAuPair Mon 22-Sep-08 14:56:14

I'm self employed and love it! I offer marketing services and retail aloe vera products (and team build with the same company).

My aloe work is fab as it fits in totally with being a mum- whenever i'm harping on about some new product i'm actually working! Its the most fun work i've ever had and definitely the most rewarding when I get customers who have health problems and my products really do help them. Also the people that i've introduced the business too have all (so far) had similar successes to me and its very rewarding helping them build their businesses. and of course having to try out lovely products as 'business expenses' lol. Its a hard life!

Cons... no longer wearing glam stuff to the office and no shopping in my lunch hour! I'm sure that because i'm home based I do the lions share of childcare and housework.

Also, sometimes I feel like i'm always working/checking emails. Not a problem generally tho as I love the work I do.

Saying this, my aloe work has superseded my marketing consultancy work in recent months so i'm no longer chained to the computer to do 'actual work'. Yakking away is work which suits me fine grin

Walkthedinosaur Mon 22-Sep-08 15:05:34

Self employed as a transcriber because I live abroad and it's the only work I can get that pays a decent living.


- Work from home
- Earn enough to live on.
- Am at home if DS's are ill.
- Can do the homework, piano practice etc with the DC's.


- Lonely.
- Deadlines mean sometimes have to leave DS'in front of TV while I work.
- Never turn down a job just in case no work tomorrow, so work seven days a week.
- Miss the commute and the chance to read a book on the train.
- Never switching off from work, always checking emails etc.
- Livable salary but earned so much more on a 9 to 5 in the city.
- No sick pay, have had to work on days when all I want to do us curl up and die.
- No holiday pay, so have caught myself panicking halfway through a week off and taken more work.

I would actually love to go back to office work with other people but it's not going to happen with DC's at school.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Sep-08 15:07:31

What about maternity/paternity leave - has that been an issue for anyone?

thumbwitch Mon 22-Sep-08 15:13:05

for my self-employment I had about 2.5m mat leave because of the sheer physical restrictions in the last month of pg and the 1st 6 weeks after DS was born. would have liked longer perhaps but the clients wanted me back and the money was useful.

suey2 Mon 22-Sep-08 15:36:55

yes, carrie.
I had to stop treating patients at 7 months as the bump literally got in the way. Was doing business admin until the week of the birth (was just before christmas) and started going in 2 weeks after she was born. I started treating patients again 4.5 months after she was born.

My first employee got PG 3 months after i employed her. It cost me 25K in lost earnings when she was off. She got PG again just as i was about to go on my own mat leave. Nothing to do but congratulate her! but it did occur to me that she was having the life i had worked so hard to get for myself- she came back on reduced hours with no late or early appointments. She was a fantastic employee in all other respects

suey2 Mon 22-Sep-08 15:37:58

oh, and i had maternity allowance but that was much less than i would usually earn

overthemill Mon 22-Sep-08 15:42:50

only did it post children - did it solely because of dd with chronic condition as it was 'meant' to be easier

Pinkyminkee Mon 22-Sep-08 16:02:46

Had M A, but also had some big contracts finishing at same time, which kept us going as MA was quite a pay cut at the time.
DH works in public sector- much earier than when he was lecturing which was conntact work. It's easier if one of you is on normal salaried work.

onceinalifetime Mon 22-Sep-08 16:22:18

Agree with everything so far - the most difficult issues for me are:

- not being able to turn work down
- flexibility being a double edged sword ('flexible' my arse when working at 2am)
- finding time to do admin - most importantly invoices
- the stress of trying to make business calls with dcs at home
- high workloads managing to coincide with dcs being ill and excluded from nursery
- saving money on lunches, however most of the time I don't make any lunch and eat rubbish instead

Sounds very negative but it's still miles better than trying to fit into a conventional 9-5 office routine with 4-5 weeks holiday, etc.

FiveGoMadInDorset Mon 22-Sep-08 17:17:06

No maternity leave, like I sadi we reopened when DS was 8 days old, I do breakfasts book keeping etc DH did rooms as I had a section. Bt this balances out with time off in winter when we are quiet.

Bramshott Tue 23-Sep-08 10:00:10

On balance, I love being self-employed, but I am lucky that DH earns a reasonable amount so I am not trying to support a family on my earnings - more to cover childcare, keep my brain busy, and help out with extra money etc.

- no office politics or pointless meetings(this is a biggy for me grin)
- not having to commute every day
- the ability to take time off when I need to, and make it up later
- much less stress when the DC are ill

- no-one to share the stress with or delegate to
- difficult to take a holiday
- easy to end up 'out of the professional loop'
- having to pay for my own training
- no IT support!!!

I did get Maternity Allowance and took 4 months off when I had DD2. I still managed to lose a few of my contracts over my maternity leave period though, and of course as a freelancer there's no comeback on that.

Sunshinetoast Tue 23-Sep-08 13:28:16

Maternity allowance is very low - I've been saving money to top it up for my next period of maternity leave but its not been easy. Freelancing allows me flexibility and I can earn a reasonably high rate for not that many hours, but I couldn't afford to do it if I didn't have a partner with a steady income. Or rather I would be too nervous to do it without a partner with a steady income.

So what we've got is a fairly traditional arrangement - he works full time and I work very part time and do the bulk of the childcare and housework.

I'd hoped that things would even up over time but I'm starting to realise that childcare issues can get harder, not easier when children start school. (I know, seems stupid not to realise before!) so I'm not quite sure when we will reach the point where I can/want to work more hours.

MGMidget Wed 05-Nov-08 13:55:48

Pros: can spend more time with my baby (I work from home but have a nanny 3 days a week)
can usually take time out in the middle of the day if I need to e.g. for doctors visit for my son without having to justify it to anyone apart from myself!
When childcare lets me down (as my nanny does more often than she should!) I can often manage the workload without having to admit to anyone that my childcare arrangement has failed - a hassle for me but less hassle than if I was employed in an office 9-5.30 and had to apologise to my boss, loose a day's holiday etc etc.
cons: I earn much less than if I had the equivalent level employed job I had before I went self employed since I had to start building client base again after return from maternity leave (thanks to an idiot I hired to cover for me during maternity leave who lost me all my clients!)
I have to invest in childcare BEFORE I have any income in order to be available to attend speculative meetings with potential clients, prepare for new business pitches at short notice and to begin working on a new client (usually at short notice!). That means a big financial outlay before any income arrives - especially as it takes a couple of months to receive payment once client signed up - i.e. I work for a month then invoice retrospectively then wait a month or more for them to pay. I can only afford to do this because I have a well-paid husband who bankrolls me - I could be a stay-at-home mum if I wanted to be but I am trying to keep my career going as an investment for the longer term future while also being able to be close to my son when he is young.

motherinferior Wed 05-Nov-08 14:00:11

The big con, for me, was no real maternity pay. Maternity Allowance was £100 a week in my case. I can't pay my share of the mortgage and bills on that; each of my four-month maternity leaves cost me around six grand, I reckon.

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