More and more people are now choosing to work for themselves – either setting up a business or working on a freelance or consultancy basis.
There are undoubtedly many benefits to working for yourself, not least the sense of being in control of your own destiny.
The harder you work, the more money you’ll be earning. You’ll have the flexibility to work around other commitments, and better still, no-one can tell you what to do or make your post redundant.
Or that’s the theory. The bottom line is that working for yourself often means long hours and sleepless nights.
And if you take on employees, you must ensure you comply with employment and equality legislation.
Help to get started
If you are over 18 and receiving certain benefits, the New Enterprise Allowance can provide financial help and support from a business mentor to help you start your own business. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus for more information.
Business Wales advisers will help you to set up, run and grow your business, and will offer advice on financial and legal matters, including taking on employees. Advice is available online and over the telephone.
If you have been made redundant, you might be eligible for ReAct funding of up to £1,500 to acquire new skills which will in turn help you to change careers or run a business.
Help for people with disabilities
Your local Jobcentre Plus has a Disability Employment Adviser who will help you consider whether or not self-employment is a viable option for you. They will also be able to help you with grants and other support.
The Government-funded Access to Work scheme provides practical support to people with a disability or mental health condition who want to continue or start working in paid employment, including self-employment. The grant cannot be used for business start-up costs.
Disabled Entrepreneurs provides networking opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs.
X-Forces can help veterans to get their business ideas off the ground. Their advisers can help with business planning, loan funding and growing your business over the first year.
Prime Cymru and Age Cymru provide support and advice to older entrepreneurs.
The Prince’s Trust runs an Enterprise Programme to help young people (18-30) to set up their own business. Their team of advisers will teach you about the practical side of starting a business and will help you plan and test your business idea. Small start-up grants and low interest loans may also be available.
Getting the paperwork right
As an employee, it was your employer who assumed responsibility for your tax and National Insurance (NI) payments. Now it’s you. As soon as you start earning money from your business or freelance capacity, you will be classed as self-employed as far as the Inland Revenue is concerned so you must put aside sufficient funds to meet your tax and NI liabilities.
Depending on whether you are a sole trader, partnership or limited company, there may also be other taxes to pay, including VAT, as well as NI and pension contributions for any workers you may take on.
www.gov.uk provides plenty of guidance to make sure you get things right from the start; however, if you are setting up a business it’s probably a good idea to engage an accountant early on.
Looking for work
The nature of your profession, trade or business will determine where and how you look for work, whether you need to advertise in publications or invest in a website and e-commerce.
There are now many online directories for all sorts of trades and professions, including electricians, gas fitters, and counsellors. There are also various freelance websites but be sure to check them out first.
Sell2Wales publicises public sector procurement opportunities to suppliers. It’s free to register. Buyers can also post notices.