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Working for yourself

Working for yourself can seem like a great option. You know that you'll be the best boss in the world, right? When you're the boss you get: 

  • The freedom to choose exactly how many hours you work a week
  • Control over how your business develops
  • Control the finances and keep the profits

However, there is a little more to it than that. To work for yourself you need to have discipline and you need to be a good at all the elements of the business (although we'll help you with a lot of those bits).

The benefits

Many of us feel as though we're entrepreneurs, and would love to have the satisfaction of running our own business, so fulfilling this ambition should in no way be overlooked as a benefit. 

You can arrange the work to fit in with your life, rather than arranging your life to fit around work. Obviously it depends on what your clients want, but as long as you sit and work out when you are prepared to work and when you aren't, you can look for clients to fit into your timetable (as much as you fitting into theirs). 

You can choose what you do and don't want to do; some people are happy providing personal care, while others would rather provide support and domestic help. You could even choose to exploit some of your interests and look for clients who want for your particular skill set - are you good at gardening, do you have an interest in visiting art galleries, are you handy around the house and happy to help out with odd jobs? Make sure you've identified what you are prepared to do, and what you would really like to do, and then look for clients that fit. 

You get to interview your clients when they interview you. When they are interviewing you, there are certain things that you need to be checking out too - do you think they will pay, how do they want to work with you, what's the environment like that you'll be working in? If you're not comfortable with any of these things, you don't have to accept the work. 

The drawbacks 

You have to find your own clients - there's no provider in the background looking for them for you. If you don't have clients. you won't work.

You have to make sure that they pay you - it doesn't matter how nice someone is, or how difficult they may be finding things, you need to be able to ask them to pay their bill to you, otherwise you won't be able to pay your bills. You need to set clear terms of when you expect to be paid and you need to be prompt with your invoicing and chasing up if someone doesn't pay. To help you with this task, take a look at our Timesheet and Invoicing tool

You need to set aside time for all the paperwork and be disciplined, so if you're working with clients for 20 hours per week, you'll need to set aside another four or five to do paperwork, accounts, invoicing, looking for new clients, meeting with potential clients and so on. Remember you won't be able to charge anyone for this, so you'll need to make sure your hourly rate includes enough for you to be able to do this.

If you don't work, you don't get paid, so again your hourly rate need to take into account the fact that you will want to have holiday and bank holidays during the year - you're only really going to be able to work 46.5 weeks of the year. If you were employed by the service user you would be paid for this holiday, but working for yourself you won't. You may want to point out to potential clients that your hourly rate takes into account the fact that they won't be paying you for holidays. For guidance on what to charge, we have a handy guide to making your care business pay.

There's no-one there to bounce ideas off; one of the best things about working in a company is there is usually someone else there to ask their opinion, but you don't have that when your self-employed unless you get a good network around you. One of the things that will be launched on the You're the Boss website shortly is a forum in which you can ask people's views and share experiences.  

There's no-one there to stand up for you if things get tricky. We don't like to say it, but not all service users are wonderful employers or wonderful people. When things go wrong in the relationship between you and the service user, and you work for a provider, you expect the provider to send someone in to help resolve the problem.  If things go wrong here, you're a little more restricted as to where you can go. There is always ACAS who can help, but it's not quite the same as going to your line manager.

Finally, there may come a time when a client you are working for needs to move into residential care or they sadly pass away. If this happens, then your contract with them is ended and you don't have the right to redundancy pay (find out more about what happens when a client dies) as you would if you were employed, so you need to take this into consideration. 

In working for yourself you get the satisfaction of knowing that whatever you achieve is down to your hard work; unfortunately, there's rarely anyone else there to say 'well done'!

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