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Be Your Own Boss: The Rise of the Freelance Solopreneur

Cropped image of a business working on his laptop There’s a certain allure to the thought of being one’s own boss. You (in theory) answer to no one. You can (to an extent) run things as you deem fit. You make the rules (so long as they comply with established regulations, of course). Even with some limitations, doesn’t that sound appealing? If so, you aren’t alone: approximately 4.8 million UK residents agree with you. Almost 2 million of them take it a step further and work as freelancers. Some even went full Monty and became solopreneurs! Given the current trends, as much as 50 per cent of the working population could be self-employed within five years! The first thing we should discuss, of course, is: What are the differences between these terms: “Self-employed,” “freelancer,” and “solopreneur?” “Self-employed” means you are an independent contractor. You are the boss of your business and of any employees you may retain. You perform duties for clients but operate as you see fit. [Tweet "Self-employed” means you are an independent contractor."] “Freelance” means you are more than an independent contractor. You work with whomever you wish whenever you wish from wherever you wish. You might Skype a client meeting while in a blazer and pyjama bottoms or from your favorite café. “Solopreneur” means not only are you your own boss, but your own full-time staff. Anyone else you might work with is on an as-needed or, to stay in line with our definitions, a freelance basis. call-to-action-810x75-c

Whatever the version of independent, the fact is that these small-time operators are quickly becoming main-stage players in business big and small. One advantage these operations tend to carry over their larger counterparts if a high level of specialty in their fields at a reduced cost. These professionals offer a great deal of experience in particular areas, often substituting for entire departments at a fraction of the price. This can prove invaluable to a small business that just broke into its niche. Its owners may not – indeed, are likely to not – possess finances enough to support their own advertising department or even know where to begin.

Shot of a young woman using a laptop while relaxing at homehttp:// Another small business that specializes in advertising, regardless of the number of persons employed by the agency, could prove the saving grace for a start-up. An early partnership between the two could lead to a lasting relationship and the start of a symbiotic network that benefits both and brings others into the model. In a gig economy, freelance work can be seen a boon for individuals and companies who partake of their skills. While the flexible hours allow for more control over one’s personal life, it also allows companies to pay only when work is done. Concerns over labour and tax laws remain but aren’t enough to damper the entrepreneurial spirit that is ushering in a new model of business partnerships.

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This model – a fledgling start-up that surrounds itself with other small businesses and independents – is becoming a normal method of business. The appeal of independence, even with the unpredictability of work draughts, and a noted decline in perks to permanent employment benefits draws people away from traditional office settings. In addition to network opportunities, freelance and self-employed contractors allow businesses a chance to temporarily fill vacancies left when employees leave. While it can cost more than £30,000 to replace a fulltime employee, that price can be slashed when you consider what you would not be responsible for: Sick and holiday leave, employee tax, and other benefits reserved for full staff members can drastically reduce the financial burden of replacement. An employer could expect to save upward of 30 per cent of their costs! On the freelancer’s side, expenses involved in the pursuit of this employment may be tax deductible so long as detailed records are kept and they fall under the accepted provisions. A mobile phone bill used for both business and personal reasons may be deductible in part, but you must demonstrate the business uses. Personal costs cannot be claimed. The potential for more income through various clients held at one time. You could eliminate your commute, or, if you leave the house, to a place of your choosing. An opportunity for self-exploration, to learn what you can do when less limited by stringent company and labour rules. Any one of these reasons could help persuade someone to leave the standard workweek behind. But let’s not forget reasons to firmly consider your decision. You’ll need to stand out amongst the millions of other independents or risk being overlooked and ignored. Your pay depends on your work and you may expect to pay your dues, in a sense, though a lowered rate to establish your name. Success or failure depends on your performance, your presence, and most of all, your motivation.