Mumsnet users share their experiences of being self-employed or running their own business

(66 Posts)
YanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Sep-20 13:53:19

This discussion is now closed. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Starting your own business or taking the leap to self-employment can be an adventurous risk and much desired income independence for many. From having the brilliant business idea or right set of skills to start with, to managing the day-to-day paperwork and admin, being on your own is not always easy.

With that in mind, we want to find out more about your challenges and success stories with being self-employed or a freelance worker. If you’ve started or are starting your own business, we’d love to hear from you too.

So we’re asking you to think about the following:
-How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities? Which are the ones you hate doing the most? Do you have anyone helping you with them?
-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be? Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?
-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? How did you prepare for that step? What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?
-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?
-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Whatever your experience, we’d love to hear it, so please share on the thread below. All MNers who post their stories will be entered into a prize draw where one will win a £100 voucher for a store of their choice (from a list).

Thanks and good luck!
MNHQ

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OP’s posts: |
Stovokororbust Thu 24-Sep-20 16:16:06

I've been freelance for 4 years now and before that I ran my own limited company. Am enjoying not having to submit accounts etc, although I still have to do a tax return. Probably doing accounts is the one thing that I'd never do again if I could help it. One thing I wish I could outsource is hustling for business: it has to be me really because I'm the product and the brand, but it's not something I enjoy. Love doing the work though!

nevergooogle Thu 24-Sep-20 18:39:28

I've been self employed now for 5 years after 15 years as a healthcare professional in the NHS.

I'd say these days about 80% of my time is on admin as I now coordinate a whole team of self employed associates and have stepped back from my clinical caseload to allow me to grow the business more.

The one thing I wish I didn't have to do is answer the phone. Before lockdown I had taken on a VA which was a real treat but I had to end that when Covid floored my business overnight.

I decided to set up my own practice after having my 3rd child and no longer wanting to be told what i can and can't do as a parent/adult by an employer. I needed flexibility and want to be able to stay home if the kids are sick and never miss a sports day or school performance etc. My priority needed to be my family. My salary didn't cover the childcare costs during the holidays and I felt I could do a better job as a professional being independent of stale NHS culture. I was right.

I had mentoring support from friends who run their own businesses and also from local enterprise schemes who run courses and offered mentoring and business diagnostics. I continue to access this support.

Self employment has made me more focused on my goals so I always set these in writing and work to my marketing and sales plans.

No i do not feel financially secure right now. My clients are older vulnerable people in care homes and their own homes. I have streamlined and diversified to be able to work better remotely but face to face appointments are few and far between. Long term the practise is not sustainable or fun this way. I'm still trying to figure out how the business can adapt.

Prior to the pandemic my biggest challenges had been understanding finances, branding, marketing and sales...basic business skills which I have learned along the way. These have been enjoyable challenges though. Also learning about my own strengths and weaknesses and having to self motivate can be a struggle at times.

However this year has been the biggest challenge as the problem feels out of my control and right now I don't have all the answers.

Catiopea Thu 24-Sep-20 19:48:15

How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities? More than I thought/expected, and when I became proficient/quicker at one admin task I found I was fitting in a new one - I think thats part of growing your business though. Which are the ones you hate doing the most? Prepping for accounts, or any admin, clearing toys, cats, random stuff off the table and setting out my work ‘stuff’ took up nearly more mental energy than the task at hand. Once set up I loved doing admin/accounts just as much as the main part of the business. Do you have anyone helping you with them? No.
If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be? Social media, its overhyped and takes more time for less return than any other aspect of working ime. Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks? I developed record-keeping systems that were specifically for my business and my way of working. That cut down a considerable amount of work. In future I would have a dedicated office space, I expect many people have created that recently due to Cv/wfh! I wouldn’t bother with sm again in the future, other than maybe signpost accounts to a website.
What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? More control over ethical choices I guess but I never had an employed Vs s/e dilemma - both were just choices as I knew people doing both/neither/a mix. How did you prepare for that step? Talked to other s/e people & completed a s/e course, again it didn’t seem like a huge step, it was just like prepping for job applications/interview processes. What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you? I found the courses etc out there really didn’t deal with the realities. I wanted help with foundations and quite often the help touted as that was actually closer to window-dressing. I am more careful nowadays to research what a course will actually cover & in what depth/scope. Often courses could cover what they say they do in half the time or less if they took out the ‘padding’ or they bait and switch. Being discerning about whats on offer is really important.
As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? I used to set goals/targets in line with my 5yr/10yr strategic plan and schedule spending/admin around known periods of high income/low external activity and always have a back up for emergencies. Knowing the rhythm of my industry/business and all my deadlines well in advance (or as much as possible) was key. I became even more organised than I had been in employment. And was prepared to work double the number of hours I would in employment if some weeks were ‘heavy’ in order to cover ‘lighter’ weeks later in the year. Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate? Due to external factors I am not affected by current events. I am not overly concerned about future markets as self-reliance and innovation are part and parcel of being s/e ime.
And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it? The gap between what the Equality Laws/external organisations think are safe working practices and the actual reality. Overcoming this challenge is still a work in progress wink

voyager50 Fri 25-Sep-20 10:46:23

After being made redundant from a job I'd had for 23 years in a theatre because of Covid 19 I have started doing some freelance gardening work and well as some freelance writing work.

It is not going to be a long term choice for me - only until I can find a more permanent job as I need the security of being employed.

I find the admin tasks ok as I have always been very organised.

sheilads105 Fri 25-Sep-20 12:53:03

I have taken the leap to become freelance. I am a proof reader and was fed up of having to give a share of earnings to an agency.
I am finding the tax calculations the hardest and would gladly give this task to someone else to do.
I meet up with others at networking events and that keeps me in the loop. I haven't worked in an office for a while so don't miss that - or the commute.
Fingers crossed I get enough work and that I get to grips with the tax element.

Hiraeth16 Fri 25-Sep-20 13:12:34

I became self-employed 10 years ago having previously worked in the NHS.

The work itself is great and the people I see are often people who want long term input which isn’t always provided on the NHS. I value the flexibility of organising my own diary to suit family commitments and I don’t miss the paperwork, meetings and bureaucracy of my previous job (although bit sad to give up the decent pension!)

I had to do a fair amount of research about the financial and professional requirements when I started out, but some of the things I was most concerned about e.g completing a tax return, have not proved to be difficult.

I dislike the advertising/self promotion side which is not a good trait in someone self-employed (!) but most of my work comes via word of mouth which I prefer anyway. I also undervalue my time and need to work on this.

This year has been difficult as most of my clients are in a vulnerable category. My goal is just to try and keep going but who knows what the next 6 months will be like.

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sharond101 Fri 25-Sep-20 19:00:27

I have been considering going freelance but worried about the planning of my week, will my salary drop given i would have unpaid holidays and is it more stressful? I'd like more advice.

wineymummy Fri 25-Sep-20 19:15:24

I went self employed shortly before having my first child. The flexibility to work hours to suit our family, and knowing no one else is taking a cut from the hours I work are the best advantages. On the flip side, being the person who has ultimate responsibility can be really stressful. And all the admin and accounting... That's all made easier by using an online accounting service so I can input my sales and expenses as I go, which generates my invoices and ultimately let's my accountants create my year end accounts without too much extra input from me.

vixb1 Fri 25-Sep-20 20:32:10

I'm 3 weeks into being freelance - I'm a HR consultant.

How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities?
More time than I'd like! Maybe 20%. Hoping to be able to afford to outsource it when I'm earning enough.

Which are the ones you hate doing the most?
Anything to do with accountants! And setting up marketing stuff in my CRM tool.

Do you have anyone helping you with them?
No.

-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be?
Social media management.

Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?
Work hard enough to be able to outsource it! There are nice online tools that can help make things easier, eg trello

-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place?
Wanted to be a business owner. I had an option to leave my full time role after mat leave and made the jump.

How did you prepare for that step?
Many years in my profession. Working for a start up.

What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?
I've spoken to as many people as possible who have already done what I want to do. Found out what worked and didn't, so I can try to get ahead.
Also signed up to a couple of online business clubs to help me with skills I'm missing.

-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals?
Goals are financial, based on how much I'd like to be earning. I have until March to make my business financially viable so that is the main goal!

Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?
No! Nowhere near!

-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
So far.... I was getting very intimidated by people already doing what I do. I overcame it by deciding to niche and specialise in a type of business. I've no idea if it's worked yet!

bobbikato Fri 25-Sep-20 23:20:32

Althou i am no longer working,otherwise ...
-
How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities? It was one day a week .
Which are the ones you hate doing the most? Accounts - especially trying to find the right bank statements - as they kept changing there page numbering system .
Do you have anyone helping you with them? i had an accountant but he was not much help,ditto my staff .
-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be? Trying to set up a website with payment options .
Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks? Leave it all to a sunday and lock the doors .
-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? Very little job prospects .
How did you prepare for that step? Late night planning .
What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you? Nothing no one could help - all those consultants with regeration cash to spend are clueless - if your biz is not a management consultant firm .
-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? i plan to increase my prices and de-crease my costs,goal was just to keep afloat .
Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?
not at all .
-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it? moving premises,did it by working 20 hours a day 7 days a week for two years until the day the council said they need to dig up the road outside my business,i did not over come this , as i closed down - but still had to pay for everything .

lookatmememe Sat 26-Sep-20 08:26:31

How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities?
*
I try to set aside an hour each side of the working day for admin - automate as much as I can and reply to each days admin on that day. *

Which are the ones you hate doing the most? *
Quotes when I know I'm one of 10 businesses they are approaching - prefer doing recommendation quotes as more chance of getting the job that way*

Do you have anyone helping you with them?*

Only when the teens need extra money will they offer to help fit a fee!*
-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be?
*
The accounts *
Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?*

Radio on loud when doing boring tasks like accounts - automate emails for rescuing stuff, reminders for weekly jobs etc*
-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place?
*
Sort of evolved due to circumstances beyond my control - was 20 odd years ago! Can't really remember! *
How did you prepare for that step? *
Just jumped head first into it! *

What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?*
No real support apart from a good set of happy clients who continue to book me.*
-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? *
I pay myself a low wage to cover my costs then invest anything else either in pension or savings or property - pension filling is a good way to keep under the higher tax brackets ! *
Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?*
Yes thankfully I've worked non stop throughout this crazy time and as I'm outside mostly still feel safe . ( do feel bad for those affected though )*
-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?*
Gosh - tricky last question. I guess it's challenging having people in competition with you for the same jobs, I overcome this by either collaborative work with others or suggesting someone else who might be a better fit. Then stepping back as something else usually pops up that I couldn't have done if I'd pushed for the previous job.

Hope that helps !

Just to say being self employed is empowering, enlightening but sometimes lonely. Be sure to always smile as when you do you can and pass them on and that can make a difference if someone's having a down day. It's small things like this that can make a difference! Don't forget the small stuff .*

pukkapine Sat 26-Sep-20 09:22:34

-How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities? Which are the ones you hate doing the most? Do you have anyone helping you with them?

Like the poster above, I set aside 1 hour a day for admin. It's usually enough. That said, I keep on top of emails to clients throughout the day.

I also most dislike social media - which is ironic seeing as it is so closely linked to what I do (and love). But doing it for my own business is just so time consuming and I'm always too busy. I figure, if I'm that busy, I don't actually need to do it that much!

Usually I do all admin myself, but very occasionally I use a virtual PA if I'm just too busy.

-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be? Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?

Probably uploading web/blog content and making sure all the 'faffy' bits are done for the on page SEO. That irritates me. I'll have crafted a wonderful blog post and then it sits for ages before I can be bothered to upload and schedule it because of it.

Workarounds - I use QuickFile which makes my accounting very easy and fast. I also do social media in batches and use scheduling.

-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? How did you prepare for that step? What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?

I was desperately trying to think of something that would work around my own poor health, plus three young children, one with ASD. To be honest, I didn't really 'prepare' - I fell into it. A friend suggested I do something, based on my skillbase. I did and got amazing feedback. I then built a portfolio by charging quite low rates. From there it mushroomed to something I never could have imagined. I got to the stage that I could get other freelancers onboard and I did that for about a year. The money was obviously better, but I actually missed what I used to do as I had to spend so much more time on admin and managing the business. I scaled it back to being a one woman show again. In the future, when the kids are older, I may upscale again, but for now this works for me and my family. It's nice to know it has the potential though.

In terms of support. I did it 100% myself with just a cheerleading husband. I had run a business previously though so had already got my head around things like bookkeeping. I've done a few online courses but these have been about what I actually do, rather than how to run a business as such.

-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?
I did used to create a gloriously coloured excel sheet with goals and objectives, combined with marketing plans etc. But then I actually became too busy - which is good! Also, my original goal was to simply grow grow grow - but actually I then discovered I missed what I was actually about and it was taking its toll on my health. The timing was wrong at that point for our family. Now my goals are a bit different - they centre around being very picky about the clients and industries I work for.

I feel more financially secure now than I did in March. In March I worried that my work could dry up overnight. It didn't. But I did have to really scale back during lockdown because of home schooling. But, those clients have come back and I'm back at full capacity again. I do worry about the overall state of the economy on my business though.

-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
I think the reality that I can't do it all. I absolutely love what I do. I cannot grow the business without losing an element of that. I've also had to accept that my own health means I have to limit it compared to what I 'want' to do. That's been tough - knowing this could go further but I'm not the one to do it. So, I guess, 'settling' for what's right for my health and my family today over my ambitions has been tough. Plus working when I'm sick - there's no one else to do it!

Plussizejumpsuit Sat 26-Sep-20 12:20:53

How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities?
Not much in terms of admin as I only have 1 to 2 days a week of project managment work at the moment. Simple to invoice with low cost outlay. So keeping track at the moment is less than an 1hr a week. This is my 1st year self employed so I did take a while to get to grips with tax and ni and make a system for logging income and expenditure. This took a few days so I suppose this should be pro ratered across the year.

Which are the ones you hate doing the most?
I have to do cash flow for the project I work on. It is not my budget but the project budget which I manage on behalf of a museum. It does make me think if I had to do this for a project which was just mine or if I had more of a buisness with manufacturing or outlay costs it would definitely need to be factored in time wise. As it is a huge tome drain!

Another significant part of trying to build a career as an artist and creative facilitator is searching for paid opportunities. This takes ages. There's loads of unpaid stuff out there and loads of stuff which is for more experienced people so wading through is lots of work.

Do you have anyone helping you with them?

My partner does an opportunity search for me weekly. It gives me quite a lot of anxiety doing it so he takes a bit of time on a weekly basis to do it. I get anxious as it just feels like there's so much out there but not much of good quality. I'm looking at them assessing my experience ideas and basically self worth! Where as he can do it much more objectively.

-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be?
Looking and applying for jobs or opportunities

Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?
I just make it as nice as possible for myself nice iced coffee, tidy room, nice essential oils in the diffuser. And I take breaks!

-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? My fixed term contract came to an end. I got some more work for same organisation on a freelance basis. This fits with other things I want to do so it worked out well.

How did you prepare for that step? What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you? I attended a seminar on tax and ni.

-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals?
Right now I'm just making sure I save a bit monthly for tax and ni. I'm nit able to plan much more as I'm very part time and just earning a core income right now. I'd like to take on more work but the work isn't available right now due to covid.

Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate? No not really in terms or my freelance work. But I do as a couple as my partner earns a wage which supports us without me having to work.

-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Just the constantly looking applying and pitching for work. Pin all honesty it's an ongoing challenge. But if I want the work and want this to be my career its non negotiable. So I suppose I overcome it by reminding myself why I'm doing it.

MarkRuffaloCrumble Sat 26-Sep-20 13:46:29

-How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities?

Not as much as it probably should on a day to day basis blush

I have two or three separate businesses on the go at any one time. Every year I resolve to be more organised and do my accounts as I go along. What actually happens is that I buy things left right and centre for my businesses, then have to track down receipts and purchase histories for all my different accounts to try and make sense of it at accounts time! I don’t have a huge amount of admin to do, other than accounts.

Which are the ones you hate doing the most?

Accounts. When I worked as a childminder I hated all the risk assessments and policy/procedures paperwork though.

Do you have anyone helping you with them?

My DP loves doing spreadsheets as part of his job, so I get him to help me when I get stuck on Excel. Otherwise it’s all on me.

-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be?

Social media. At least with accounts I only do it once a year and there’s an end point. With social media it’s the constant pressure to be posting new and interesting content online, then to have the same few people commenting and liking, but no new orders coming in. It’s soul destroying. People keep saying “just keep at it, keep commenting on other posts etc” so I spend ever more time engaging with all the nonsense. I just want to get on with the job! If someone else could engage with potential customers for me, and I could just make what I make, I’d be happy! But that costs money and without orders coming in, I can’t justify it. Plus other people don’t necessarily target the right customers. When people have shared my work, I get loads of enquiries from people who don’t really understand what I do! I don’t just want loads of enquiries and none of them converting to orders, so any help I got with social media would need to target the right people, not just a scatter gun approach.

Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?

No, but I’m open to suggestions!

-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place?

My parents were both self employed and both my siblings have ended up self employed, so I think it was always my destiny! After 20+ years self employment I think I’d struggle to work for someone else now.

How did you prepare for that step?

There wasn’t any preparation, it was just a hobby that grew. Then other business ideas grew out of necessity.

What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?

My parents were always supportive. Most recently I enrolled on an entrepreneur course with NatWest, which was an amazing fully funded course supporting new businesses in the local area. I have a few close friends who are also SE.

-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals?

I don’t plan. Which may be part of my problem!

Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?

No absolutely not. My work is heavily weighted towards the wedding industry, so with the recent announcement that for at least another 6 months there will be no weddings over 15 people, my work has ground to a halt.

-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

COVID-19 and I am having to pivot and come up with a new focus and new business opportunities that will inevitably arise from the huge changes taking place.

mummydinosaurRawr Sat 26-Sep-20 16:03:29

-How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities? Which are the ones you hate doing the most? Do you have anyone helping you with them?

Currently, not much time on admin. This will increase if I'm fortunate enough to have any success, but my previous background is admin so that side of things doesn't really faze me.

-If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be? Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?

I hate the initial introductions / sales pitching. I'm just not that confident. If I had anyone else working with me then I'd get them to do the sales and of concentrate on production and admin.

-What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? How did you prepare for that step? What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?

I'm on maternity leave but SMP is pitiful. I found out that I can't work on SMP but I can have a go at being self-employed. This coincided with getting some praise for things that I had made and it went from there. Some family & friends are supportive, but you can't expect everyone to be interested in your new venture.

-As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?

At the moment my financial goals are somewhere between 'anything is a bonus' and 'I need x amount per week to live on'. At the moment it's just a bit of extra spending money, if I can get to the point of earning enough to consistently cover my living expenses then I would consider giving up my paid employment, but I'm not there yet. As a new (tiny) start up, I don't feel that the current climate is impacting my business sector.

-And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Deciding whether or not to really go for it. Potentially I could sell more by investing in advertising, attending markets / events etc but I'm nervous that I may pay out more than I earn. I haven't overcome this yet, I'm still trying to decide.

phoenomenon Sat 26-Sep-20 18:26:10

How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities?
Not sure what is meant by this. So maybe not relevant to what I do.

If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be? Do you have any hacks or workarounds to help you with less enjoyable admin tasks?
Again, n/a.

What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? How did you prepare for that step? What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?
It was the only real option open to me due to suffering from mental health issues and an absence of any previous work experience/references as a result. Support part again not relevant.

As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?
I don’t make enough money to be able to “plan”, if you’re referring to things like buying a house, pensions etc. Only enough to cover living expenses (which are low considering my housing situation), plus some to spend and some to save. Although the saving is probably now going to have to take a backseat as I have recently lost one of my two sources of income.

And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
Biggest “challenge” has been the outside world intruding in on me while trying to work, due to living in a flat. Eg A neighbour getting caught up with a drugs gang, so people suddenly coming and going from the building all day, loud arguments etc. Or when the building owner left scaffolding outside my window for 6 months, which led to local kids climbing onto it and then targeting me inside my home (verbal abuse, throwing stones) for filming them on my mobile phone. I overcome these things by covering my windows and wearing headphones all day, mainly. angry

ILovesPeanuts Sat 26-Sep-20 18:34:49

I've been self employed now for 15 months. Best thing I ever did! I'd been employed doing the same thing for 20 years but decided to work for myself after some employment issues. I'm doing the same as I always did but earn at least 50% more than I did. I only had the confidence to make the leap after both my parents died as I had a modest inheritance behind me if it didn't work out.
I paid a bookkeeper but use Quick books too and at first it took me a while to get the hang of but I'm fine now.
I dread IT issues though - I lease some equipment that comes with a service desk and call out but they're a total nightmare to call or deal with.
So IT is my challenge when it goes wrong!

allofthetings Sun 27-Sep-20 05:43:20

I've been a mixer of SE and employed for over 20 years.
Biggest challenge: not letting the admin takeover, dealing with a fair amount of rejection, having no pension and not earning as much as I would have if I just got a normal job.
But I love what I do.

For all those who struggled with their accounts/SA just get a cheapo bookkeeper/accountant, they cost less that you think, esp if you aren't VAT reg.

jellybeanpopper Sun 27-Sep-20 10:05:56

I am full time employed professional and I do some freelance work to supplement my income and enhance my CV.

I loathe completing the self assessment each year, unfortunately the amount of money I make as freelance is minimal and it doesn't justify paying an accountant... so I do it myself.

My top tip to make things easier is good record keeping. If you populate a spreadsheet as you go along with income and expenses, it makes things quicker when it comes to doing the tax return.

ilovemyrednosedaymug Sun 27-Sep-20 14:12:25

I did a small amount of self employed work while employed, then increased it when I had DD, so I went back 2 days a week and self employed 1.5 days a week.

When DD started nursery I wanted more flexibility, so left my jobe of 20 years and set up totally on my own. When XH left 12 months later, I did worry and regret leaving the well paid job with set hours and sick pay/holiday pay, but over the past 8 years I have built the business up into a full time job and also employ someone 2-3 days a week.

I work at home 2-3 days a week and (in normal non CV times) at clients 2-3 days a week. I love my job.

I have never missed one school play or performance thanks to being self employed. It has meant long hours though and a lot of working evenings and weekends, and a lot of working hard before and after holidays.

After 9 years I no longer feel beholden to my clients and am confident enough to take time off and tell them what's what not the other way round.

The biggest challenge was managing to work all year round during school holidays, as XH would never have DD as "he had to work".... so I was dependent on my mum, my neighbour, my friend, to all have DD as and when they could, as there are no holiday clubs around here, and no child minders.

It was also hard during term time and DD was often in some sort of club or with a neighbour after school when I needed to work a longer day at a clients.

Now DD is 12, I can see light at the end of the tunnel as she can be on her own for an hour after school.

Admin is my biggest bugbear. I am too busy doing the actual work to be doing the necessary admin!

During lockdown I was working 7 days a week as my business is accountancy and bookkeeping, so I had extra work with all the payroll and furlough claims, and all the VAT returns etc still had to be done.

My tip to any business (as an accountant) would be to understand your accounts so you can keep track of how the business is performing, and if you have a large enough business, get a bookkeeper in if you can't do it yourself. If you use cloud software, then get some training from your accountant, as I have seen so many messups when people do it themselves with no advice.

It's not been easy but I am now earning double what I was in my full time job 9 years ago. It can be very stressful at times, but it is great being your own boss

ConquestEmpireHungerPlague Sun 27-Sep-20 14:38:39

I'm a self-employed writer and publisher. The image basically sums up my working life. It's probably not much help to anyone, except to make you feel better about your own habits.

lookatmememe Sun 27-Sep-20 16:55:22

Hahaha I wish there was Like button on here !!!

EmanResu7 Mon 28-Sep-20 01:48:23

I have been a freelance copywriter for 15 years now. About 95% of my time is spent on the job itself and about 5% on admin tasks, mostly because I have systems in place to make it as easy as possible.
I do struggle with invoicing and things (which is annoying as it's pretty essential to get paid!). That would be the task that I would like to never have to do again. I have set up templates to make it easier and reminders on my phone to ensure I don't forget.

I went freelance as a 'side hustle' initially, and then it took off and I got a couple of regular well-paying clients. My main reason for going freelance full-time was that I could fit work around my children. Of course, it doesn't always work that way and I rely on the support of my partner and my lovely Mum.

I don't feel entirely financially secure, especially post-covid, so without my partner's income, I am not sure that I would feel secure enough to continue with freelance work. I love the excitement of different jobs, and new opportunities but I still worry about it all stopping suddenly!

I have regular, reliable clients and I lock them into contracts so I can be pretty sure of my finances, but then I take on ad-hoc work when I can find the time, so this gives me some reliable income and some opportunity to boost it at times. This means I can plan financially for the future.

I wish I had had advice and support at the beginning of this journey, but I had to wing it and learn by my mistakes. My biggest challenge was starting out, taking on poorly paid jobs to try and get a reputation. A few times early on I wasn't protected by contracts and taking these risks was very stressful, but I felt I had no choice in trying to establish my business.

carriemathisonshandbag Mon 28-Sep-20 12:11:46

How much of your time goes to managing admin tasks and responsibilities?
Not much, as I am quite organised and my job doesn't invoice huge amounts of business admin or expenses

Which are the ones you hate doing the most?
I find Professional Indemnity insurance forms tedious

Do you have anyone helping you with them?
No. I use an accounting software system to capture my invoices and expenses, which it puts into my self assessment return.

If there was one task that you would never do again, what would it be?
I have social media and I don't do very much of it at all; a basic website and facebook page is all I use. I am not active on Linkedin or Twitter, although I have accounts. One day I hope to be able to afford to get someone to get to grips with it all for me.

What led to your decision to become a self-employed or freelance worker in the first place? How did you prepare for that step? What kind of support did you seek and who or what was there to support you?
I was made redundant just before the birth of DC2 7 years ago. I took a year off to decide what I wanted to do with my life, as I wasn't sure if I even wanted to stay in my profession. Weirdly, after 12 months I was offered a number of jobs from industry contacts (unsolicited approaches), but DC1 was about to start school and the idea of joining another firm and commuting didn't appeal. I figured even if I could just pick up a couple of jobs a month it would be worthwhile setting up on my own and being able to be flexible around the DC.

My professional body has quite clear guidance on how to set up within it as a sole trader, and I worked out about registering for self assessment etc. I emailed all my contacts and used linked in, which resulted in a couple of consultancy jobs (one of which I still have).

As a business owner or self-employed individual, how do you plan financially and decide on your goals? Do you feel financially secure in the current business climate?
It's difficult. Very early on I decided I would set aside 1/3rd of my income to cover tax, NI and expenses. The theory is at the end of the year, the balance will go into my pension, but that has only happened 1 year out of the 6 I have been trading! I don't feel financially secure as I am in a LP with 2 DC, and my workload has decreased with Covid. It should pick up again though and the SEISS has helped, but my savings are rapidly decreasing.

And finally, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
My divorce. As a lone parent I had to keep going, while managing a move, the DC and the fall out from the separation. I guess I would have had to do the same if I had been employed, but without sickness or holiday pay it was difficult.

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