Home » Tradesperson Guide » Considering Self-Employment?

Considering Self-Employment?

Electrical student working on a consumer unit

Launching your own business is exciting, but self-employment isn’t for everyone. So, you must weigh all your options and plan before making any decisions.

According to the Office of National Statistics, by December 2018, 4.84 million people were working on a self-employed basis. That’s 14.8% of all workers in the UK. And having increased by 63,000 in three months, self-employment is growing in popularity.

There are currently thousands of jobs you can undertake on a self-employed basis, and many tradespeople have chosen to work for themselves after training and gaining qualifications with us.

Is Self-Employment Right For You?

When considering self-employment, the first thing to consider is whether it’s the right thing for you. Are you doing it for the right reasons?

If you’re bored in your current role, it may be worth looking for a job with a different company where you’re better suited. Being your own boss isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok.

But, if you’re set on working for yourself, go for it. Just make sure you prepare.

What Qualities Do You Need?

As well as the overall talent and skill to perform your job, whether you’re an electrician or photographer, consultant or decorator, you will need several other skills to succeed on a self-employed basis.

When you’re doing it alone, you won’t have the benefit of someone bringing work your way or setting your timetable.

To be successful on a self-employed basis, you need to be determined and focused. You have to know what you want and how you’re going to get it. You’ll need to plan your time carefully and be realistic.

And, if you get to the point of employing others, you’ll need to be a good leader.

What Are The Benefits Of Self-Employment?

There are many reasons why people choose to become their own boss as it boasts a range of benefits.


With self-employment can come plenty of variety within your workload. As you’re in control, you can choose a range of different projects to undertake.


With self-employment comes the ability to set your own pay rate, and it’s essential to get this just right.

Don’t underestimate your worth and undercharge, but at the same time, don’t overcharge as customers may go elsewhere.

A study by Intuit QuickBooks found that in the UK, self-employed workers will earn an average of £32,623. That’s £5,000 more than the average UK salary.


Depending on your job role, you may work from home. Many people dream of avoiding the dreaded rush-hour commute and office politics.

If your job requires it, you’ll find yourself travelling around for work, but you’ll be more in control of the time and distances you’ll go.


No longer restricted to a company’s working hours, self-employed people work on a schedule that suits them – to some extent. Of course, when working for a client, you’ll still deal with deadlines, but there is much more freedom when you’re freelance.

What Are the Downsides of Self-Employment?

No job is perfect, and even though self-employment has its perks, there are some downsides like anything else.

Finding Work

One of the main problems arising when working for yourself is ensuring you have work. When you’re the boss, it’s down to you to find customers/clients or at least encourage them to find you.


You’ll find yourself wearing many hats when you run your own business, and one of those will be as a marketer.

It’s hugely important to market yourself and your business to get your name out there and show off what you can do. Luckily, there are plenty of marketing resources available. You can also drill down into social media and branded merchandise specifics.

One great thing about working for a company is paid leave. In the UK, full-time workers get 28 days of leave, including eight bank holidays. Some businesses also allow for a set amount of paid sick leave.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case when you’re working for yourself. A day off means a day without pay, so it’s essential that you factor this in when considering self-employment and how you will manage your money.


Receiving payment is sometimes easier said than done.

Many self-employed workers out there will tell you of the struggle of being paid for their services. Sometimes there are genuine reasons for late payment, but be careful not to be caught out. We’ve put together a few pointers as to how you can reduce the risk of late or non-payment.

How Much Does Self-Employment Cost?

How much it costs to go self-employed will vary drastically depending on your industry. For example, will you work from home or set up your own store? What stock/equipment will you require? And what about paying your tax?

Equipment & Transport

If you’re likely to be working ‘on-site’, you won’t necessarily need premises. However, you will need transportation to travel and transport equipment.

Companies also often provide any necessary equipment, but you’ll need to purchase that equipment once you leave to work for yourself.


When employed by someone else, they take care of tax for you. So a percentage of your paycheck will go towards your tax, NI and maybe even pension each month before it even reaches your bank account.

When you’re self-employed, it’s down to you to organise paying your tax. Keep receipts and records in a secure location and do your research.

There are plenty of resources online that go through the process step-by-step such as Gov.UK. Alternatively, many self-employed workers choose to employ an accountant to prepare accounts and calculate how much tax they must pay.


Don’t forget that you’ll need to get insurance. Business liability insurance covers you and your business for accidents relating to your business.

Become A Self-Employed Tradesperson

Before you can think about becoming self-employed in the trades, you need to have the right qualifications and experience. You can become an electrician or gas engineer with Options Skills through our training courses.

Based in Birmingham, Manchester and London, we deliver several training courses to students all around the UK. Designed to help anyone from beginners to experienced tradespeople, our trainees gain qualifications to enter and progress within the industry.

If you’re interested in training with us, fill in our online contact form or call us at 0800 802 1306.

All data correct at time of publication.