On National Freelancers Day, the freelance-curious say flexibility is the draw

Flexibility is the main attraction to setting up your own business on a freelance or self-employed basis, a new study shows.

Released to inform today’s National Freelancers Day, the study by IPSE found that 49 per cent of wannabe self-employed people are attracted to ‘going it alone’ because of flexibility.

Sent to FreelanceUK ahead of the now underway 24-hour celebration of freelancing, the study’s findings show two in five adults are interested in the idea of working for themselves. 

‘Flexibility’

Creatives are the most likely to have had that creeping, entrepreneurial feeling, with 57 per cent in media, marketing, advertising or PR roles admitting to thoughts of leaving the 9-to-5

Seeming to suggest their employers are too controlling -- even if covid is apparently accelerating the ‘work from home’ trend among full-timers, “flexibility” was the top appeal.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) also found another popular reason to becoming a freelancer was ‘being your own boss.’

‘Autonomy over when, where, how you work’

FreelanceUK put it to the association that ‘being your own boss’ (voiced by 48%)  is the same as ‘flexibility’ (voiced by 49%), in terms of a motivation to set up your own business.                                                                                                                                     

“It’s not the same thing,” an IPSE spokesperson corrected. “Flexibility is about having more autonomy over when, where and how you work.

“It also means you choose what work you do. Admittedly, a boss might prevent you from enjoying that kind of flexibility but having a boss means more than just that.

“Being your own boss means not having someone else that you are answerable to – being your own boss means freedom.”

‘Many, many reasons I run my own biz’

And with that freedom comes flexibility, according to Jade Flannigan, a developer and investor who works for herself in the property sector.

“One of the many, many reasons I decided to run my own business…[was that] so no one could ever tell me again that I couldn’t take time off when I wanted”.

Posting on the eve of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, Flannigan continued:

“Now holiday forms are a thing of the past as…I dictate [my work on my] own terms.”

‘People wouldn’t hear from me for a while’

Jessica Wicks is another sole trader enjoying calling the shots about when exactly her work, rest and play falls.

“Working flexibly for myself means I can work wherever and whenever I want... and I absolutely LOVE it,” Wicks, a freelancer marketer reflected online.

“I told all my clients in advance that I wouldn't be contactable during this week and I set my ‘out of office,’ so that people knew they wouldn't hear from me for a while.”

‘You don’t have to ask anyone’s permission’

Taking to LinkedIn after coronavirus travel restrictions lifted, Wicks explained that she was referring to taking her first proper holiday “in a very long time.”

“When you work for yourself, you have to make sure you keep accountability high,” she said.

“You also have to make the most of it, and enjoy the fact that you don't have to ask anyone's permission to take time off.”

‘Improved work-life balance’

As well as ‘being your own boss’ and ‘flexibility,’ the other big draw to working independently is “improved work-life balance,” IPSE found, voiced by 48% of those polled.

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘no longer having a fixed regular income’ was the big deterrent to those considering self-employment (55%), followed by job security issues (49%).

Not having enough financial capital to set up a freelance business put off about one in three, added the association, making it a bigger obstacle than lack of confidence in the ability to find clients.

'Costly’

The perceived high cost of freelancing appears at odds with ‘knowledge economy’ freelancers often reporting that their independent venture got off the ground with only a laptop and an internet connection.

“We agree with you,” said the IPSE spokesperson, confirming that thanks to the digital age, starting an online freelance business from scratch isn’t prohibitive, financially. “Unfortunately it is still the case that [some] people feel that setting up a freelance business is costly.”

 

16th June 2022

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