This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Help me Just Do It!(15 Posts)
I've been seriously researching going freelance (media role with specific skill set) for around six months - speaking to friends with experience who have made the move (so I know it can be done, and I know some of the pros and some of the cons).
Aside from weighing up all the details, I also need to feel confident that leaving the security of paid employment, holiday pay, sickness pay etc is the right thing to do. I'm not the main breadwinner in our house so it's not maximum risk for me to set up for myself, but it would be a big decision for our family.
Can you tell me the best thing you've found about going freelance / setting up for yourself?
It might just make me do it!
PS the one specific question i also have is: sole trader or limited company? Have been advised both ways!
I only started the tail end of last year but am loving it so far.
Best bits are the freedom and being able to choose projects.
Worst bit as you mentioned is the element of uncertainty. Best to keep money back from good times for the inevitable quiet times.
Sole trader or Ltd will depend a lot on your circumstances.
I started as sole trader but then many clients will only work with Ltd so that swung it for me.
It also limits the liability - if all goes terribly wrong the company folds. As a sole trader that's you personally so assets such as house etc. It's unlikely to happen of course.
Ltd company can be more tax efficient if earning well.
Ltd also protects the company name.
However sole trader is simpler. To get money out of a Ltd company it needs to be salary or dividends. And it is more complicated overall. But once your head is around it it's fine.
The Ltd company I'm director of pays me a salary do I have that continuity of income plus some of the benefits of being employed.
Accounting wise as a sole trader you could probably do that yourself. Ltd company you'll probably need an accountant. A good accountant should more than save you their fee though.
Thank you @KadabrasSpoon - that is the clearest explanation of sole trade vs Ltd I've heard so far!
I guess if you started relatively recently you haven't yet had a major holiday. It's niggling me that a) on holiday I might end up working constantly or feeling the double hit of unusual spending plus not earning b) minor sickness must be a bummer as the show must go on; major illnesses (god forbid) or operations must be entirely worrying when you're not employed by someone else.
However, I am really drawn to the idea of doing my own thing, my way, having complete control and picking my own clients/ projects. I also think I'll always wonder 'what if' if I'm not brave now. There would be minimal overheads and the idea of someone paying me cold hard cash for my own work is exciting - you must get a buzz!
I think if I was long term sick I'd be able to get SSP because I'm an employee of the Ltd company. I've not really looked into this though! My accountant did say that at least a minimum wage salary is a good idea (if you go Ltd) for thinks like sickness and maternity pay if needed. There is the question of who looks after the business though!
I do have a big holiday coming up but will probably log on etc in the evenings when DCs are in bed (this is hugely variable as often they are sleep theives!) just to keep an eye on things.
Thank you, it's very interesting to hear directly from someone who sounds 9-12 months ahead of where I plan to be!
I have been contracting now for nearly 3 years - am a ltd co - me an DH are directors. Our accountant saves us more than the fees. Am on the flat rate tax scheme ( but not worth the bother any more!). First year hardly took any time off - second year took over 6 weeks and made sure had a month off between last 2 contracts! I doubt I’ll ever go back to perm - earnings much higher so we’ll worth the risk!
Thank you @Evewasinnocent - if you don't mind: do you think going it alone was the right decision for you? Do you ever miss office life and routine? Do you ever regret leaving being employed by someone else?
I don’t miss being an fte - my role does require me to work in offices - but knowing I won’t be there long gives me the best of both worlds!
@Evewasinnocent that is very good to hear! Thank you
I was freelance for about four years, working mainly for one company, then worked briefly with another company before deciding to set up properly as a ltd company, with my DH, in 2016. There was an element of risk involved because DH was leaving a full time job, but for me it was just a matter of carrying on freelancing in a more 'official' way.
I love it, it was the best decision I ever made and I kick myself that I didn't do it earlier. Yes, it has drawbacks - some days I feel utterly fucked off, tired and stressed. But that is more than balanced out by the days where I feel totally elated. It's definitely much more of a rollercoaster than being employed and you have to be prepared for that. It suits some people and not others. It definitely suits me!
The cons are obvious - having to bring in your own contracts, the worry of not making enough money, the responsibility for admin, tax, premises etc, shitty clients, late invoices, working long hours, etc.
The pros are great though - flexibility (I can attend all school events for my children, I just need to plan my diary) without anyone looking over your shoulder watching your time/days, control over who you work with and when, seeing the direct benefit of your hard work, rather than it being absorbed, unnoticed, into a big company, winning new contracts on your own merit (that's a high!), depending on your area you may earn a lot more than what you did as an employee, feeling like you're building something, like all your extra hours are worth it, having the opportunity to provide employment to other people (I employ my best friend as a contractor), a sense of ownership and meaning.
Remember too that if you build a successful company you may at some point in the future sell it - you are building an asset that could be very valuable.
I think apart from the money element a lot of the benefits are quite intangible. Yes, the lack of sick pay, maternity pay etc can be a bit terrifying but that's very quickly outweighed by the fact that if I get, say £20k for a project, that doesn't just get sucked into the Accounts department and slowly meted out to me according to my contract, that's my £20k and I can use it to build my business (or to buy insurance so I don't have to worry about getting ill!)
I'm worried about being too positive, because I know it's not for everybody - a friend of mine started his own business around the same time as me and seems to torture himself over it - he expects such a lot of himself and has no patience to wait and see how things work out. I think he'd be better off in employment - he needs quicker rewards and more direct encouragement (when you own your own business you absolutely must be able to sustain your own confidence, your success depends on it.)
I would say to give it a try and be ok with it if it doesn't suit you. Don't expect success instantly, you do have to hang in there. Some people will be very negative and put a dampner on it, you have to ignore that, much of it will be jealousy/not getting what you're doing. Look to the supportive people to sustain you. Find people in the same boat (this is a good start!). Good luck!!
We’re covering lots of the topics you’re asking about at our events - the next few are being held in Barnet, Central London, Wilmslow and Cardiff and we’ll be holding them around the country in the months ahead. If you’re interested in coming along or receiving our newsletters/info about our mentors, you can sign up here. Just to be clear, it’s free to register and we’re not-for-profit. Really hope you find it useful.
Hello I have worked for several years now as a freelance digital product consultant, that means I help organisations launch new digital businesses like apps and websites, learning and so on. I love working for myself - I would say the downsides are being on your own a lot, and also the constant business development, but then I have to do more than more as my average contract is about 3 months. Other contractors work for longer but I do front end strategy for new businesses etc then help them meet the right people to launch/ build etc.
I would say that its a perfect life for a mum (I have a 2 year old) but it can be isolating and you need to be okay with selling your skills/yourself. You can learn this though so I'd say its not a major blocker. I have some tips on how to avoid time wasting with fake 'clients' and spotting actual clients, if that is useful!