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Self-employment

Site: OpenLearn Create
Course: Just Graduated? What Next?
Book: Self-employment
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Saturday, 3 Dec 2022, 22:50

1. Introduction

Self-employment: attitudes towards self-employment fluctuated during the pandemic, but many people choose self-employment. Entrepreneurial students often establish their own businesses during their studies after developing an interest and the necessary skills during their time at university.

In some industries like the creative arts, self-employment, freelancing, and portfolio working have always been a norm, however, it is now increasingly common for workers to contract out their hours, often on a consultancy basis to complete project work for their own clients. As a freelancer you can choose your own rates of pay, whereas portfolio working often includes bidding for contracts or applying for projects with salaries set by the company.

Many traditional professional services like accountancy, business development, and management consultancy are completed on a self-employed basis.

There are plenty of different options to consider. You could set up a social enterprise, buy into a franchise, work on commission for private projects, work with individual clients or at events/conventions, etc. You could have an online shop which you run alongside your full or part time employment. Keep your options open.


1.1. Checklist

To start a business, it’s important you’ve reflected on and tested the viability of your idea. Be honest with yourself, do you really want to do it, do you have the skills needed to make it successful, do you feel ready to run your own business? If you can’t answer yes to these now, that’s okay, as it gives you a good starting point, and a few initial planning steps to consider and will help you to minimise the risks.

You’ll need:

  • Commercial understanding: conduct thorough research and understand your intended market and how your products/services could fit
  • Commitment and drive: as the sole lead in this venture, you must be passionate about what you’re doing and have the right attitude, personality, and intention to see it through
  • A business plan: to convince investors, customers, or potential staff of the validity of your ideas, you must have a solid business plan which explains your plans for each section of your business. The Business Model Canvas is a good place to start (see our section on how to use it)

Business Model Canvas

  • A marketing strategy: linked to your business plan, you must identify your customers, suppliers, partners, stakeholders, etc. and how you will communicate with them
  • Financial backing or enough funds: many small business owners don’t earn enough initially to pay themselves a salary, so ensure you’ve explored your options. Plenty of excellent ideas don’t make money, so invest time into making a financial plan and assessing whether you’ll make enough money to live on. Use this HMRC e-learning course for financial advice

HMRC e-learning course

  • A network: social media offers you a platform to share your ideas, connect with like-minded individuals, and promote your business (e.g. your online shop) – be careful to protect your copyrighted or patented ideas in these settings


1.2. Advice and resources

Advice is available from the below sources:

You can use this handy guide produced by Prospects for advice on how to start your own business and aspects you need to consider.

Prospects guide

Advice sites: 

Vacancy sources: