The pros and cons of being employed and self-employed

Last updated: May 21st, 2012
Feature by Rebecca Rutt

EMPLOYED

Pros:

  • Paid holiday and sick leave
  • A secure salary and chance of promotion and bonuses
  • Access to employer pension scheme and other employee benefits
  • Social interaction with employees

Cons:

  • The daily commute
  • Only having a set amount of holiday to take each year
  • Childcare means you either work shorter hours or pay someone else to mind your children
  • You're a cog in a machine and you have little freedom to make your own choices

SELF-EMPLOYED

Pros:

  • The freedom to fit work around your family life
  • Being your own boss
  • Escaping the cost and pressure of commuting
  • The freedom to work on different projects for different companies and the excitement of taking on new projects

Cons:

  • The costs of running your own office: rent, insurance, computer and internet costs
  • Losing earnings if you take holidays
  • No employer security
  • Lack of regular secured income and the hassle of sorting your own financesNever having the chance to switch off from your work life

Your Comments

I would argue that the salary of an employee is not secure. Also, many positions do not offer the chance of promotion and bonuses.

I can only imagine that the pros and cons for the self employed have been written by someone who is not self employed themselves. It is impossible to generalise about these as small businesses are very different to one another.

The Cons in particular depend on the business. Looking at my businesses, I work from home so the first is a non-issue. The second is also a non-issue because I run web businesses. As for the third, which employers can you name that offer any form of secure employment at the moment? Fourthly, my income is now much more secure than it was when I was when I was employed. Finally, who says I can't switch off from work life?

The real issue is one of attitude - do you WANT to be self-employed? You will almost certainly work longer hours working for yourself. You will need to develop a wider range of skills. Above all, you will have to take responsibility for all decisions - and this is what frightens many off.

Since being self employed dj/entertainer in 2006 I have seen a huge reduction in income but I am so much happier doimg what I always wanted to do.
5 days mid-week holiday in the year when I do not earn anything and I still have to keep in touch with email and website enquiries.
I wish I had turned self employed long before 2006 but you can't turn the clock back. Luckily I have my wife and family who put up with the odd hours I work but then I have to work every day for my business.

Like every thing in life Pros and Cons all I can say is the best thing I ever did was go it alone , I was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time but its all down to me if I dont work I dont get paid simple, I dont get paid for holidays so you have to allow for that but the freedom is the big bonus although you always have some one to answer to thats life and work all rolled in to one , yes I check my e mails all the time I have trouble switching off but I love it it keeps me young I get out and about , the report writing can be a pain but if that what it takes get on with it dont moan or groan no one will listen including your family your bed lye in it , every day is a challenge and you are only as good as your last closure/deal look at that way dont get complacent as no one likes a smart arse enjoy power to the people and all that Jazz .
Red wine after a good weeks work is what the doctor , I was employed for many years working for many a pratt some not to bad but hands always tied if you havent already go for it at least try it and if you do so the best of luck .

N Ireland

People talk nonsense about wok because they can't see outside what they do. Why do all agencies insist everybody works in an office and of course office work is more important?. Why do secretaries get more pay than the people making things in a factory? no manufacture no office work to write about it to anyone. Can anyone imagine what it would be like if theirs was the only work? and there were no factories, shops , bars, resteraunts, swimming pools, It's all work and those people all pay taxes into this badly abused economy. It seems to me we woild rather pay for badly behaved stars than necessary jobs. I ask who would deal with the sewage works if those people didn't work????

Love many; trust a few; always paddle your own canoe.

My rules for self-employment:

Learn book-keeping and accounting principles, if only to understand what you have to pay your accountant for.

Work out a pricing structure as early as possible in your venture that will give you the income you want, for the hours you are likely to work, after paying all your direct costs and overheads. If you consistently undercharge, you will quickly get into the deep waters of expensive credit and debt. You will not be "earning a living", you will be giving away your time and skills.

Put your significant contracts in writing and get written agreements or official orders whenever possible.

State your terms of payment and insist on compliance. This is not an easy or pleasant task when you start up, but slow and bad payers can and do create fatal problems for small businesses. Cash-flow is King!

Do not agree to a customer's deadlines if you do not think that they are realistic from your point of view. Agree to do your best, but state that "time is not of the essence" of the contract.

Always deliver the goods or services contracted for to the standards and prices agreed.

File every piece of paper relating to your business daily or weekly. This will save years of your time and maybe some accountancy fees.

Speak to others who have been through the self-employed mill.

I have spent most of my working life self-employed. It can be testing for you and your significant others. It can also be surprisingly rewarding and educational in its broadest sense.

I have now retired, but couldn't help starting up another business - freelance writer, writing about my experiences.

The comments I have read so far all seem to relate to people working on their own. Whilst that is fine if this is what you want, if you have a good business proposition you will need to employ people to expand your business. That will be when your problems are likely to start, mainly due to the wealth of Government legislation surrounding employment., You will be responsible for those people who work for you, and whilst you may end up being more of a welfare officer than doing what you want, along with all the other duties running a business imposes, you may be lucky enough to improve the quality of your life in the process. On the other hand, if you are employed, are adequately rewarded, good at your job and enjoy the work - you will find that life is far simpler staying that way!!!