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Leaving employment to be self employed - is this a good idea??!

(19 Posts)
jellybean007 Mon 09-Mar-20 11:14:36

Would really value people's thoughts, I'm going round and round in circles!

I'm in my mid-40s and work full time, 2 days a week from home. 2 dc who are 8&10. 8yo is going through diagnosis, but ADHD and PDA look likely, she needs a lot of support and more attached to me than DH.

Parents are getting older (aren't we all!) and I'd like to have more time to spend with them, currently very hard to do this. They're a 2 hour drive away. DH works all weekends so getting me and kids there at the weekend is hard plus dc2 finds it v stressful.

I'm in the sort of job where I could work as a consultant instead of in a permanent role and I'm thinking that this might be a good idea to give me less working time, perhaps aiming for 3 days a week so I can use more time for dc and parents and family generally. But this comes with uncertain income which might be stressful for us - we're living within our means but with none spare at the moment. DH can increase his work (he's self employed) but of course that is another moving part. Also worried about trying to go back to employment if it all goes pear shaped.

Has anyone made this choice - to move to self employment for more flexibility. Did it work for you? What do you wish you'd thought about ?

pasbeaucoupdegendarme Mon 09-Mar-20 11:16:05

Following as I’m just doing the same (not the same job - but I’m leaving to become self employed) so I’m hoping for some wisdom from the vipers!

user1497207191 Mon 09-Mar-20 19:18:52

As an accountant, I see a lot of people who "test the water" of self employment. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out for quite a high proportion who return to employment within a year or two. Usually, that's down to simply not enough work, i.e. they've relied on just 1 or 2 clients they knew from employment and that work dries up. Problem is that they don't do enough marketing etc to broaden their client base to be more resilient for when work dries up from their main 1 or 2 clients. Ideally, you need several "big" clients and many other smaller clients. There's also the problem that once you're out of the workplace, you lost contacts and may not find it easy to keep up with change in your industry, i.e. new businesses entering the market, change in demand of products/services, new technology etc. Of course, plenty make the transition and make a huge success of it. As for thinking you're going to have more time to yourself/family and more flexibility - that's unlikely I'm afraid as clients usually want things doing quickly, often last minute, etc., and instead of one "boss", you may have several, all with competing deadlines and requirements etc.

Rebecca980 Tue 10-Mar-20 09:56:40

I haven’t myself, but my husband did it! The change in him was incredible. He’s happier and is far more passionate about what he does with his life.
He did it with a friend - who had more experience on the sales and ‘new-biz’ side and it still gives him somebody to bounce off. They help keep each other’s confidence up. Do you have any friends in a similar field you could talk to? Perhaps their feeling the same and you could build something into a two person business/consultancy? It can be lonely doing it alone!

inwood Tue 10-Mar-20 10:01:26

What field are you in? Can financially afford for it not to work? Have you got a book of clients you can take or will you be restricted from contacting them?

I've thought about it but tbh I want the stability, pension, healthcare and all the other benefits I get.

I am capable of spending money like water though so going from feast to famine in terms of income would be a disaster for me!

CuriousaboutSamphire Tue 10-Mar-20 10:02:51

I crashed out of teaching 5 years ago. A year later I set up a business that I had no experiece in. It took a year to fully replace my full time teaching salary (and almost the equivalent pension).

It can be done, but you have to do your research and prep very carefully!

JunkshopLil Tue 10-Mar-20 10:08:12

Yes I did.

I'm glad I did, but the truth is life as a self-employed person can be feast or famine. You don't get regular income like a wage on a set day each month. Bills come out on the same day, but money doesn't come in regularly. Like this month for example I'm about £15 off my overdraft limit and having to watch every penny, and desperately trying not to use my credit card to pay for day to day things. I'm owed money for this month, but it hasn't arrived yet, but of course all the direct debits are still coming out of my account.

I spent yesterday sending out reminders to late payers. I've got a guaranteed big payment coming next month, but that's a long way off so at times like this it feels like my life is in limbo as I wait to get paid.

If you are going to be a consultant, does that mean you will get paid regularly each month? If that's the case then go for it. It is only the irregularity of payment that causes me problems, otherwise I love being self employed.

MaybeDoctor Tue 10-Mar-20 10:46:18

I think it would help to mention the field as there is a good chance that someone might be able to give more specific advice.

The best chance of you getting more flexibility is probably to ask for it in your present role.

I freelance alongside a part-time job and love it, but it can be quite hard work as you can't really turn work down. It is also very sporadic and I would be very careful before relying on it completely. My preference would be to do it alongside something far more regular.

@CuriousaboutSamphire. I think I remember you from the staffroom threads - glad to hear that you managed to find a new niche.

pasbeaucoupdegendarme Tue 10-Mar-20 11:52:33

@CuriousaboutSamphire teaching is what I’m leaving... I’m glad it worked for you!

hoodiemum Tue 10-Mar-20 12:09:44

Worked for me, but I'm in an industry where the majority of the workforce are self-employed. In my case, the flexibility was good - could drive kids wherever for activities and work on laptop, do picks up from school, see parents for lunch from time to time, etc. Downsides: loneliness, esp once kids left primary and so I didn't chat to people on the playground. Think I've forgotten how to have a conversation! And the scheduling headaches - having unexpected weeks off that you don't want in wet February because a project's running late, and then no evenings or weekends for a month to catch up because you can't delay the next job for a different client. Having two self-employed people in a couple can be quite stressful too - will your ups and downs of income be affected by similar things (e.g. state of the economy in general, times of year)? Luckily mine and DH's work tend to have feasts and famines at different times.

jellybean007 Tue 10-Mar-20 21:33:35

Ah such great experiences, thank you all. Exactly what I needed. I've been self employed before so aware of the fluctuating salary, but I had no dependents then and lived very cheaply in a shared house. All feels much more pressurised now with people relying on me to bring in the dosh! I remember that I had one thing that was constant every week which was accidental but aiming for that might preserve my sanity. Perhaps that is the answer now. @hoodiemum I think your downsides would be mine also - not having a work 'home' anymore and people to pass the day with. Good to think about all this stuff.

I'm starting to feel so keen to have specific time available so I can see children and meet my parents once a month for lunch perhaps, I think it's the way forward. Just want to go with my eyes open...

JunkshopLil Wed 11-Mar-20 15:54:43

I have to say, on days like today I wish I wasn't self employed.

I am dealing with an absolute arsehole, and I can't wait for the job to be finished and have him out of my life and out my hair. I just hope the fucker pays me at the end of all this.

When I first went to meet them to discuss the job my gut instinct told me to steer clear and I actually did try to extricate myself. However, I got reassured and continued on.

That's another thing. Listen to your gut!! Don't work for anyone at any price, sometimes it's best to pass.

blue25 Wed 11-Mar-20 15:59:08

Also considering this, but am waiting a bit longer until I’m happy with the amount I have in my pension.

I have a very good DB pension at the moment and this along with sick leave/paid holiday are what make me unsure about the change.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 11-Mar-20 16:08:55

I love the flexibility of self-employment, which I need for pretty much the same reasons as you.

But - and it's a big but - getting to a place of having the right amount of work means doing a lot of unpaid marketing, networking, etc. So in the first couple of years you could end up doing 4 days a week of unpaid business development, with one day paid. And of course while you're building up a client roster, you're not going to say no to work, so it's feast or famine.

I had a redundancy payment to fall back on, which really helped take the pressure off. It might be worth saving like mad for a bit first so you have a cushion. And FGS don't do anything immediately unless your niche industry is health or pharma. Between Brexit and Covid, I can't get arrested at the moment, it's been the quietest 6 months ever.

DianaT1969 Sat 14-Mar-20 08:49:17

It leaves you financially vulnerable at times like this. Freelancers are going to be hit hardest by Coronavirus. No sick pay, not on benefits and traditionally it was difficult to access them. Possibly no income at all depending on the sector.

Insideimsprinting Sat 14-Mar-20 22:40:05

Left employment 10yrs ago, went in to the motor trade/fuel sales.
More hard work and stress than I ever expected. Long hours, always trying to keep customers happy, can't afford to slow down, working whilst ill, no holiday for the first 6 yrs, dealing with staff huge steep learning curve (sometimes wonder if we'd have managed if we'd not gone there).
However, we did turn round a failing business, learnt a lot on the way, become more resilient and now we're ready to hand it over to new owners proud of our achievements.
I'm the Last year however I have know two people try new start ups one lasted 3months the other 9months. Both viable businesses but it just wasn't what they expected at all, hated it and went back to employment. Its not for everyone.
I'm worn out now after 10yr, don't know how I lasted this long. I m looking Forward to employment again, can't wait...

SoloMummy Sat 14-Mar-20 23:43:27

What about condensing your hours? So you'd be ft over 4days? Would increase your down time but only extend your days a little, especially if say you worked a little longer on your wfh days and cut lunch hour to 20/30 minutes.

Less risky, but improves your down time. Eg. If work 35 hours do 2 days in office 9-6=8.5*2=17 2*9 hours day say 8-530

dontdisturbmenow Wed 18-Mar-20 08:27:56

I considered it in desperation for similar reasons but then a colleague gave his notice, was going to take 3 months off and then look for another job/do consultancy. 1 week after he left, he had a stroke, despite being very fit and healthy. He would have got up to 6 months full pay, enough to recover without worrying about paying his bills. I stead he is left with serious stress impacting on his recovery, savings now long gone and debt accruing but still much too poorly to consider any work. His wife us on a very low income in an industry that is struggling and benefits doesn't cover half their outgoings. He is very depressed.

This really opened my eyes and made me realised much more stressful situations than the one I'm in. Oddly, since I've accepted it, I have found myself much less stressed with the same issues.

Snorkelface Wed 18-Mar-20 08:37:02

Works for me but I've combined the two, part time salaried job and then self employed the rest of the time. There's a psychological security in it as when things feel a bit tough out there (like now) I don't feel I've put all my eggs in one basket. I've been 100% self employed for periods of time but most of my income at the moment is from the salaried part-time job. Be aware of the IR35 rules coming in if you're planning on freelance consultancy work. Incidentally by doing both I do something completely different career wise with the self employed side, it didn't start out that way but is how it's panned out, a lot of other friends have more than one self employed career on the go too, makes life more interesting!

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