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      29.08.2009 22:29
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      If like to take the decisions and are goal orientated then it may be for you.

      I've been self-employed for the last two years, following ten years of employment as an engineer. I really enjoy the challenges and opportunities of being self-employed, but I can see advantages and disadvantages of self-employment vs. employment. I really believes it comes down to your personality and personal preferences regarding work.

      If you find yourself frustrated by management decisions, and genuinely find yourself wanting to set the direction, then self employment might suit you.

      It is important to be goal-orientated and self-disciplined. Self-employment will inevitably bring periods of plenty, and periods that are quieter. It is important to press on, keep doing marketing and looking for work, right through the lean times. It can be hard, but then the joy of getting more work in will be all the greater! If you are easily discouraged, or really value a regular income and financial security, then do a careful business plan, and visualise what day to day life would be like, before taking the plunge.

      Creativity and imagination is an important aspect of self-employment, and this is why I love it so much. A good insurance against the vaguries of workload is to have several strings to your bow. I like to call this a "portfolio career", which sounds a bit fancier than "jack of all trades"! If one line of work isn't going too well, I can stick at it, or I can move to doing something completely different. If you find your creativity stifled in the office, then self employment might be for you.

      Consider also how much time you will spend with others during your working day. Many people who are self-employed spend quite a bit of time alone, or with customers. Would this suit you?

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      15.07.2009 16:03
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      Not for the Faint Hearted

      Self-employment; only the seriously masochistic need apply. Having been self-employed for the best part of thirty years, I think I am ready to make a judgement on whether it's better to be employed or self-employed. You may be reading this because you are considering the possibility and I hope this article will aid your decision.

      Many years ago, I had a job advising people on new business start-ups.
      They would come into the office to explain their idea. 'Why do you want to be self-employed?', I'd ask. The answers were generally very similar - 'More money, more time, be your own boss!' 'OK, but what if I offered an alternative description; would you still be interested then?' Well, let me try you.

      Self employment is double the hours for half the pay. You can take a day off but every time you stop working, the water starts rising and the reality is, you're not going to take time off at the busiest time of year; you holiday when your customers do. You don't walk out of work and leave it behind because you can never switch off and there's always something to do. As for the money, it's a myth that you're always better off and there are many small business people and tradesmen working hard, well into their sixties.

      But what about the likes of Branson and Gates' surely they're inspirational? They are indeed and the thought of hitting the jackpot is a compelling one - just go to Las Vegas if you don't believe me. When you set off down the yellow brick road full of hope and optimism, you find that just a mile along, it starts to rain and you're wading through mud. You're tired and miserable. What will you do; phone in sick? Oh, I forgot; you are the boss. I have seen many capable, talented people leave their jobs for the greener grass of freelancing only to return a year or two later. They missed their colleagues but most of all, when they fell down, there was no one there to pick them up and kiss it better.

      Sometimes, even I have to allow myself a moment of self-pity or to be honest, envy. I look at some of my peers in their early fifties, already retired on a substantial pension, pottering around Europe in their caravan on their annual summer sojourn. But they worked hard for it in their own way; studying for qualifications, attending meetings, learning how to operate within the system to skilfully ascend the corporate ladder or at least keep their noses clean and find a quiet corner where nobody would notice them. Besides, there's no going back now. I'm unemployable. After, twenty years, maybe as few as ten, you are on one side or the other; like evolutionary strands diverging, you become immutably a different species.

      The self-employed species is not a well fed, kept animal but wild, valuing above all autonomy and self-determination, even if that means going hungry some days. You don't have to go to a committee to seek approval, you can think of something and make it happen. You can delight in the fact that you started with some notes on a scrap of paper and turned it into something concrete and tangible - all your own work. It's not about climbing to the top of the Empire State Building and shouting, 'Hey everybody, look at me!' But you can look in the mirror and say, 'Hey, look what I've achieved.'

      In the early nineteen eighties, my husband set up a window cleaning round to supplement his income. A small boy, wide-eyed and precocious,looked up as he ascended the ladder and shouted,

      'Hey Mister, self-employed. That's the way to be!' Too right kid, it sure is!

      * This review has been posted on Helium - under the name of Janet Sandford*

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        11.07.2009 22:46
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        Pros and cons, like anything - if you have a calling, its wonderful.

        I went self employed a long time ago - I started sub contracting in the 1980s, from a kind of agency, and after a few years of that, I'd really had enough, so I went in with another colleague I'd met there, and we've been working together - self employed, doing our own accounts, but cooperating constantly - ever since. And that's twenty years now, of successful self employment.

        I'm a counsellor, I started working professionally in 1987, when I was in my early thirties. I'd already had two previous professions - I'd worked in export finance and for national charities. The charity work opened my eyes to what was possible - that work could be positive, that when I felt passionately about something I could really make a difference.

        I could intuitively feel that I wasn't ready, however - and although I didn't know it then, that was the first step, that I listened to my own intuition about what was right. And in searching for what I needed for myself, I found the form of counselling in which I became a practitioner. I'd looked at all sorts of things - the Alexander technique, the Bates method, massage, reflexology, spiritual healing - but a particular form of counselling work was the right for me.

        Training in something like that to the point where it could become my income was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. People who qualify as counsellors in this country often seem to be, to be frank, middle aged women with fairly well off husbands, who can afford not to do paid work while they study their new profession. I, on the other hand, didn't have any such get-out-of-jail free card. I had to do a full time administrative job at an insurance company, I had lodgers in my house, and I worked as a counsellor at a training rate of pay, while doing a private training and a nationally-recognised counselling qualification. There were about four years when I had no holidays, and worked twelve hours a day, six days a week.

        After that, however, the rewards really did flock in, to be honest. These are the some of the issues of self employment as a counsellor:

        - its always said that you can choose when you want to work. And you can; but when you're a counsellor, an essential part of the job is consistency of support for clients - you can't just decide not to show up because you fancy going off to the beach, not if you want to stay in business, or be an ethical professional.

        - to be a completely self employed counsellor can be a stressful and lonely business. Its important to be able to talk about what's going on for you - but you have to be ethical about who you talk to, you can't just chat about clients to your friends the way you'd chat about a bloke at the next desk in the office; you need what's called a supervisor - more a consultant that you engage to bounce off ideas about your clients. I'm fortunate in that I also had a colleague in my self employment, which made things a lot cheaper (supervision doesn't come cheap, its even more expensive than counselling, as a rule).

        - your training; there's an awful lot of training courses out there, more and more each year, and you have to know whats probably right for you - you can never be sure, of course. There's everything from person centred (the old, basic favourite) to the new favourite, cognitive behavioural therapy. And integrative therapy - a bit of everything, until you find out whats right for you. And the contacts you make during your training will be the start of your professional associations - thats certainly true for me, my two closest colleagues were met during that time.

        - your accreditation. In a few years time (the White Paper has already been published, and is now in final consultation with the national bodies) you will be legally obliged to to have some kind of accreditation - the situation is a lot more complex than that, but basically thats it - you need a good training scheme (three years or more), around 450 hours of practice, and ongoing supervision, insurance and training.

        - the room where you work; if it's at home, you have to make sure that not too much of your own self, your own personality, is on display - counselling is never, ever about showing your clients what a great person you are! Its about enabling and healing for the client. And you have to think about what a client will see in the rest of your house too - do you
        hang your washing over the banister to finish drying, for instance? What kind of mess is your bathroom in? If a client sees any part of your house, its presentation has to be thought of in professional terms.

        - if you rent a room at a therapy centre, how will they charge you? Can you cancel your room booking if the client cancels (probably not!)? Who else is working at the same time as you? How private is the room? Is there a receptionist? How does the client get in? Its all important.

        - your insurance. Professional and third party is essential, and is nowadays recommended for at least two million pounds, preferably five million. But there's also your house and contents insurance - you won't be able to get many insurers to look at you when you're having clients to the house, even though its only one at a time, and they're always accompanied by you.

        - Another element that will help you in your professional life is to take part in the life of the counselling community; there'll be a local association, most probably; there are two national associations, and there'll be committee meetings, seminars and AGMs where you can meet other counsellors.

        And thats just some of the issues! Counselling has given me a great living for a long time - eight weeks holiday a year, after 30 hours a week employment. And the rewards of seeing people heal and blossom are astonishing, wonderful, miraculous. Its a beautiful thing. There are downsides, of course, but thats the truth.

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          20.02.2009 22:28
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          You can get more out of this than you would ever expect.

          I have a very good job, and have had ever since I left school, but after 10 years in the same place, I found myself stuck in the proverbial rut, and not sure how to get out of it. This coincided with the sudden death of my Father, who had not yet reached retirement age. I had been given the kick up the backside I needed - life is too short to be unhappy at work, and if I wanted to, I could do something about it.

          I didn't want to move from one rut to another, so I decided to retrain and do something completely different - I quite fancied learning reflexology, so I found an evening course and signed up.

          Not happy with just finding myself a new hobby, I wanted to do this for a living.....so here started my journey of self employment.

          I am not so niaive to believe that I could make a living JUST out of reflexology, so I needed to look for other things to complement it. Searching the internet, talking to others in the industry, trying new therapies for myself, lead me to courses in Indian Head Massage, Hypnotherapy and NLP and Reiki. Over the course of about 8 months, I studied in evenings and weekends, took days off my "proper" job to attend training courses and workshops, wrote essays in my lunch-hours and ended up with Formal (and most importantly, insurable) qualifications that could allow me to begin my new career.

          Once I knew that I was going to complete all the above, I handed in my notice - many people thought I was mad - leaving a reasonably well paid, secure job with prospects, in order to do "airy fairy" stuff.....My Mother said i was having a mid life crises - what if I was, it was what I wanted to do.

          I had a 3 month notice period and I used it well - I knew that in 3 months, my income would go down to zero unless I got myself up and running. During that time, as well as my studying, I was obtaining prices from competitors, doing my own version of mystery shopping, getting quotes from suppliers for equipment, brainstorming, brainstorming and more brainstorming........Remember the old saying "Poor Preparation gives Poor Performance". If you are considering going self employed, this is incredibly important.

          I have a mortgage, I have children, and I have a husband that doesn't earn a fortune. I don't have a mass of savings so I HAD to make this new venture work.

          I also had to be realistic - just because you set up a business doesn't mean your diary or your order book will be full in the first day, the first week, the first month, or even the first year. Things take time to build up, yet the bills don't ease up, just because you aren't earning. So one of the first things I did was to set myself up with an easy, flexible admin job that paid little more than minimum wage, but at least I knew that I had a little money coming in, even if clients were slow to appear. This means that the pressure is off just a bit, but not so much that you can become complacent - you know you need to make a success of the business to pay the mortgage and keep a roof over your head.

          I fully believe that you get out what you put in.........How were clients to know that I have set up a fantastic therapy room? Well, of course they wouldn't know unless I somehow told them. So early on, I bought a load of coloured paper, and a decent printer, and printed off lots of simple leaflets and went putting them through doors. I worked out that I needed to pick up one client in order to cover my costs. Two clients and I was in profit......after my first session of leaflet dropping, I picked up 9 clients! I was in business!!!

          Every day, if the weather was dry and my diary was free, I would put leaflets through doors. It got me my first batch of clients who then told others and word of mouth meant that my diary was soon full. Within three months, I was able to earn as much as I had in my old "proper" job. Yet, other people I have spoken to, say that leaflet dropping won't produce the goods, so isn't worth doing - yet they haven't tried!!!

          My leaflets found themselves in pubs, libraries, school staff rooms as well as community centre notice boards, etc! If you don't promote yourself, you can't expect your phone to ring!

          I made expensive advertising mistakes too though - caught up in some smooth talking ad sales talk from yellow pages, and from some advertising mediums that were nothing short of being scams - after being stung a couple of times, I learnt my lesson, and became good at saying NO when parting with money was involved. Beware though, because you will get some real sharks trying to get you to take out an ad at the doctor's surgery, in a police magazine, for a special edition of a journal that no one reads anyway etc etc.

          The best marketing and advertising is free, and again comes down to being determined and pushing yourself forward - giving talks to the local WI, giving demonstrations at school PTA events or offering your services for a fundraiser etc. One of the best things I did was to agree to do an article for the local evening news. Having done one terrifying interview on the benefits of hypnosis, I then became their first port of call for similar things, as I did on local radio. Getting in the local newspaper by writing an article that is genuinely interesting, not just an advert, resulted in me having the same basic article published in the national press.......not bad publicity at all and it didn't cost me a penny!

          I would always say that you should think outside the box when you are self employed......what happens if clients become a little thin on the ground? For me, the answer was that I started to teach the subjects in which I was now working - Adult Education workshops and courses, teaching at the school where I did my training, even teaching at a local prison.......just because you are a reflexologist, or a builder, or a chef doesn't mean that you can only DO your trade.......you can teach it too! I went back to college part time to study for my Cert Ed, as I didn't have a teaching degree......something else to put on my CV! I was also approached by someone wanting to use my "hypnosis voice" to record meditation MP3 downloads - not something I would have thought of myself, but an opportunity too good to turn down!

          I also found "niche" markets and specialised in certain things - for example I took extra exams to work with pregnant women. There are very few maternity reflexologists in the UK - I am one of them......cue an article for the National Childbirth Trust magazine and a leaflet on the local mother and baby group noticeboard, and I had a steady run of pregnant women wanting me to do their feet. If you look at your potential markets and work out which one needs you most, you can target your energy into getting that business that no one else is after.

          Of course, organisation is paramount - you need to know exactly what you are doing and when otherwise you will start letting people down, including yourself. Keep records, keep a diary, keep a separate account for your business expenses and income. If you say you will do something, or meet someone, then make sure you do it. If you let down your clients, they will not return, nor will they recommend you to others, and your business will fail. If you procrastinate, or are not passionate about what you do, if you simply don't enjoy it or are not confident in what you are doing, you will not get the most out of your self employment, and therefore will probably not make it the success it might otherwise have been.

          It is hard work, it is uncertain, and at times, when you have an empty diary for next month, it is worrying - but if you have determination, passion and a true element of common sense, it can be immensely satisfying, even if you never become rich from it!

          For me, after a couple of years, I found that the teaching element was taking over, and I ended up teaching full time.......that was never my intention, but that is just the way it evolved......that then lead me back to my original career (albeit for another company than the one I left) so I sort of went full circle back into full time employment. Again, some might say it is a mistake, after all the effort I put into setting up a successful practice, but actually all the skills I learnt being self employed have meant that I am a much stronger person now - I have the confidence to take risks, I know that if I am unhappy at work, I CAN do something else, I know that I get out what I put in etc etc etc.....and that to me is priceless. I now see my favourite clients and people that they specifically refer to me in my evenings and weekends, and it is lovely to have a "profitable hobby" now! I still teach the occasional workshop, and love it! So a win-win situation for me!

          So, some of my tips would be:

          - Think outside the box - do what others in your industry don't....push the boundaries a bit. It won't always pay off, but you will be surprised!

          - Go and get your clients - don't wait for them to come to you.

          - Don't get caught up in expensive advertising. A good website is vital nowadays, but you don't need to pay a fortune for it, and you certainly don't need most of the "help" that is offered to you....at a cost. The best marketing is the sort you can do for free - so go out and do it!

          - Be realistic. Work out what you NEED to earn to clear your bills. If it is unlikely that you can earn this in the early days from your new business, make provision for it and get a part time job to supplement it. Don't kid yourself that things will be ok if they won't.

          - Put your tax money away and pay your National Insurance. You don't want to find you have a big bill you cannot pay. Do your accounts properly - keep your receipts, claim your expenses, and make friends with the tax man.....their self employment helpline was incredibly helpful to me, and they even do free one day courses.

          - Join a support network - a local business forum, Women in Enterprise, chamber of commerce etc......working on your own can be lonely, and meetings with others in the same boat can be very beneficial, on a social basis as well as another place to give a demonstration and get yourself some free marketing!

          As you can tell by the length of this review - I could talk about being self employed for ages.........so I had better shut up now before I run out of space!!!

          Self employment is not for everyone, but it may be for you! Don't be afraid, do your homework, have faith in yourself, and be sensible.......and enjoy!

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            24.10.2008 14:46
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            Big risks but potentially big pay backs

            Choosing to be self employed is not for the feint hearted!

            About me

            My experience is as a part time stay at home mum with my husband working full time and earning enough to support us hence I can't write about the pressure of it as anything I earn we treat as an extra bonus.

            I'm an artist and this sort of business (in my experience) is very slow moving. It takes time (years!) to build up a reputation, most of my work has been by word of mouth - be seen doing your art - people go "wow" I want one! - well sometimes :)


            Advertising

            This is a tough one - we all know that to get business you have to get yourself known "out there" somehow but it's a complicated world that we live in so what works for one isn't necessarily going to work for another. I'd highly recommend spending decent money (several £K) on a fab website - especially if you're selling a product. If you want to "go it your own" it'll mean at least a few hours spent making your own one (there are some very good freeby sites out there) but to get any kind of Google ranking you seriously need to know what you're doing! Many hours worth of research needed here!

            Then there's endless places you can advertise either free or fairly cheaply - local newspapers/Friday Ad, local shops/schools/community buildings etc.

            Either way expect to put alot of work in for very little return at least to start off with.

            Obviously if you're on a winner the biggest bonus of all is that all the profit is yours! Well not quite you have to navigate the hairy road of who you have to pay what - tax, insurance, accountants, maybe solicitors.

            Having said that there's tonnes of advice on the net and often organisations locally who offer free advice - your bank is a very good place to start...

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              10.04.2008 20:52
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              My experience of being self employed

              I became self employed nearly four years ago, though I prefer to see it as semi retired. The main reasons that I became self employed were to work less (I curently work about 10 days per month) and to get away from the mania that was involved in my previous work.

              The job I left was that of substance misuse commissioning manager, which, for those that don't know, involved me handling a multi million pound budget on behalf of a health authority and council, allocating it to drug and alcohol services and then performance managing them, nightmare.

              Anyway, I had always been (since early 90's) a therapist too, and was getting increasing interest in my training, so decided that i would give it a go. I havn't looked back.

              There are some definite do's and don'ts however:

              Do decide if it money you are after or time, if it is money you will swap one load of pressures for another.

              Do get a good accountant, it makes all the difference.

              Do get a website up and running if you are selling yourself or your services.

              Do get some 'bread and butter' work, or at least a small regular income, so that when lucrative work is thin on the ground, you have something coming in, I work a day and a half a week in a psychology department.

              Do get a business account and put some tax money away every month, don't touch it, you will need to make two payments a year to the taxman.

              Don't take everything on, learn to say no.

              Don't put things off, being your own boss means being disciplined.

              Don't try and cheat the taxman, you will get found out.

              Don't be nasty to any competitors, there is enough work out there for everyone.

              Don't spend what you havn't got in the hope something will come along, no work means no spend.

              Remember not to price yourself and your services out of the market, but being too cheap also has its downfalls, people think the quality is poor. Also remember that something like 70% of businesses fail in the first two years, get past that and you are doing okay.

              I can honestly say that after a few scary months at the beginning, I have never looked back, I have busy times (especially end of financial year when everyone seems to have some money left to spend on training), and slack times, I view the slack times as time to regroup, buy stationary, get any printing done, any marketing etc.

              Clearly my line of self employment is not the same as being a builder, or running a cafe, or selling on a market stall, I sell me and my experience, and here is where my last tip is really......look for a niche in the market, there is no point doing what hundreds of other folks do, so for example, I wrote a very boring book on drug service commissioning, got paid well for it, but the point is, it was a niche book, the folks that read it will want commissioner training, or someone to help as a consultant on their commissioning policies.

              Anyway, I'll stop there as I could go on, and on, and on. If anyone is thinking of becoming self employed, think long and hard, plan, get a bit of money put aside for the first few months (loans are BAD). Amyone want any advice on this, fell free to ask, google me if you want to know more. Paul Hanton.

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                16.02.2008 19:21
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                If you can put up with the hard times you will get a real buzz when the money starts coming in.

                Becoming self-employed is not an easy option. It might seem like it when you think about working when you want to, taking time off when you feel like it and generally doing as you please. Many people see it as 'freedom' but in most cases it is just the opposite. Unless you are making really big profits and can afford to have some else to do the work for you, becoming self employed is far more demanding and restricting that any salaried job could ever be.

                First of all, you have to force yourself to work even if you are unwell, or simply tired, because there is no sick pay scheme. You can pay into insurance schemes but if you are not incapacitated for thirty days you generally don't benefit.

                Secondly, you cannot work just when you want to. You have to work when the business is there whether it is Sunday morning, or eleven in the evening. To make a success of your business you can't turn work away.

                Thirdly, you don't get a salary cheque at the end of the month. If your business can afford it, you will be able to pay yourself. If it can't you have to do without. You can get tax credit payments if your income falls below the prescribed amount but it won't be enough to do anything else but feed you.

                If that doesn't put you off being self employed, you just might be making the right choice.

                My own personal experience comes from being a self-employed counsellor but the same basic set up rules apply to any business.

                Before you start you need enough money behind you to buy any equipment you may need and enough to cover your first couple of months of overheads. If you can raise more working capital things will be easier.

                All self employed people must register their business with their local tax office and decide whether they wish to pay full national insurance contributions, or apply for an exemption which is available if turnover is below a certain figure.

                You will also need to decide what kind of records you intend to keep. By law, all businesses must keep adequate records. If you anticipate a large turnover you might decide to employ an accountant from the beginning and get advice on the best way to keep accounts. If you are a sole trader you can choose which is best for you, but if you are a limited company you need to abide by the rules laid down by Companies House and employ a company secretary and an accountant.

                After you have done all of this you will need to decide how you intend to bring business in. It rarely comes by itself and you may need to take advice on advertising and marketing. This can be a very expensive exercise so don't be tempted to over extend yourself financially at the start.

                Set aside money for this purpose and no matter what 'fabulous' offers you get from local newspapers, etc. keep a tight hold on those purse strings. I know what I'm talking about here because I used to work in advertising and marketing, and it's quite easy to be tempted by a seemingly good deal. If that bargain advert doesn't bring in business, it's worthless.

                If you have a firm idea of the kind of business you want to set up and the money to do it, you just need lots of dedication and hard work, plus a little bit of luck to make a real success of it. Don't let the warnings and pitfalls outlined here put you off because once you are aware of them all, you are half way to solving them.

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                  16.02.2008 02:46
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                  The only real way to success

                  I had been unemployed for several years before I even considered trying my hand at something completely independently. I took a step back and looked at my parents lives. They had always been self employed as long as I could remember and they had always been extremely successful right from the start. It couldn't have been their business skills that made them successful in the first place because they didn't have any when they started. Neither did they have any qualifications for that matter. They made a success of their business from sheer determination, dedication and ambition.

                  I have, ever since, been coming up with literally hundreds of business ideas which could be potentially hugely successful. I even went to my local Chamber Of Commerce and discussed some of my ideas with a representative. They told me that all my ideas were viable and also quite original and innovative. Unfortunately, at that time, I was in a lot of debt and could therefore not carry out any of my plans.

                  I am now completely debt free and I am setting up a series of businesses which will all be linked under one banner. Though my debt is over with, I still have to wait twelve months before I can put any of my plans into physical actions.

                  In the world of business I believe that the most simple ideas and solutions are the best ones. I have come up with all sorts of ideas simply from looking at all the businesses around me and looking at the aspects that make them successful. I have ideas ranging from restructured business models which would be hugely more efficient than traditional methods to generic ideas like websites that sell websites.

                  After a long long wait (nine years in total) I am now finalizing my plans, which have been constantly changing and adapting with time, and I will be prepared to begin taking action on the very first day that I am clear to do so. This is where my future and the future of family starts.

                  Of course, some people believe that the self-employment road is easy, it most certainly isn't. There is a lot of hard work involved and it can take a long time just to get your business off the ground.

                  After taking several courses in business to get myself prepared by the time I am clear, I have learnt a lot about the world of self employment which I wouldn't have even considered before.

                  First of all, you need to decide whether you are going to be a sole trader, a partnership with another person, a co-operative company or a limited company. Once decided you need to register your business with Companies House. If your business will be operating from some kind of premises where there is public access then you also must take out public liability insurance. This also applies to employee insurance if you have staff working on the premises. If you are operating as a sole trader then you must, at least, use your own name alongside your business name. You must also consider all the legal aspects of running your business and make sure you have the necessary agreements and contracts.

                  Any materials you purchase which are required for your business are VAT redeemable and you can therefore claim the tax back. However, you need to keep a record of everything and of course, the income that your business generates is taxable. You must also pay your own national insurance contributions. These operate at different levels and the minimum amount payable is approximately £2.20 per week.

                  Some people choose to keep their own accounts and pay their own overheads, though there is a lot of extra work involved. Usually, you can get an accountant to do this for you for a percentage of your income.

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                    21.03.2006 15:48
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                    If you have the desire - do it!

                    I started my own business in 2001. It was out of uncertainty about the future really that I set up. Namely I was in a full time job and finally (after a couple of years trying) fell pregnant. I returned to work part time and put my son into day care while I did it.

                    I knew I wanted another child in the future and also knew that child care would be too expensive for both children and I would therefore have to give up my employed work completely after my second child was born, so I decided I needed to establish a way of earning money before my family was complete, so I had a definite income when I came to give up work.

                    I went through all the options of the things I could do from home, as this was a major criteria for me. Obviously I wanted to be there for my kids but I wanted to avoid the childcare costs as well. This meant doing something from home where I could kill two birds with one stone.

                    Eventually after much research and agonising over what I felt confident doing, I settled on setting up my own business offering secretarial and office services. Having never done anything like this before (setting up businesses!) I was at a bit of a lost end as to how to go about it. This is I hope an easy to follow guide for what I did.

                    ADVERTISING.

                    I produced some flyers from my computer at home. I had a colour printer and simply designed a list of services I knew I could do and a price and put it onto a striking background. Luckily my husband is a bit nifty with computers and software so I had some help here. If you don’t have anyone around to help with things like this though, you will either have to teach yourself from the many self help books on the market, or pay a professional to do it for you.

                    After the flyers were produced I simply posted them in letterboxes. This was hard work, as you obviously want to reach the biggest audience you can, and I have to say it maybe generated one or two enquiries and that was it! I was really disappointed and felt it was all a bit worthless. I began to think you needed a lot of money to get yourself known out there, in terms of advertising and getting your name about and I was worried I would not be able to establish enough of a customer base to see me through financially when I gave up work.

                    I looked at the Yellow Pages next and on the Internet there was an advert on their site, which said if you were a new business you could advertise the first time for free. I was really excited and completed the form online to get into the next issue of the Yellow Pages. This was done really easily and generated quite a few enquiries immediately, some of which are long standing customers even now – five years later. When they come to issue a new book they contact you and ask if you would like to buy a bigger spot for better advertising but this is very expensive and I have so far declined, however you do get to keep your one line in the new issues for free.

                    The Thompson Local also offers a similar service where you can advertise for the first year for free. The page to complete is in the back of the book, or go online and you can probably find it on there.

                    I also did a lot of cold calling. By this I mean, I literally got the local phone book of businesses and called them up offering my services. It was embarrassing and nerve wracking at first, and I still don’t like it, but this also generated a couple of long standing clients. I made up a little speech and wrote it down so when they answered I wasn’t umming and ahhing over what to say. I also had my services and prices in front of me to refer to.

                    The other things I did was to write to every job advertised in the paper for my type of work. I stated in the letter that I couldn’t work in their office but would they consider me working for them from home. I also emailed this letter to all the local businesses in the area from the towns Internet website. This is an ideal way of reaching people, as there are no costs involved such as postage or phone calls.

                    Lastly, I ordered some business cards from Vistaprint. They are free for 250, you just pay postage and are professional enough to use while you find your feet. I also ordered some pens with my business name, address and number on them. People remember them easily when you hand them out as it is like a little free gift. These were a bit more expensive but still not too bad.

                    Word of mouth is maybe one of the best ways of getting people to know you and if you build up good relationships with your clients, in a professional yet friendly way they will recommend you to others and this has certainly been true for me.

                    BIG BREAK

                    My big break came through my sister actually. She works for a large entertainment company who sell DVD’s, games, CD’s etc and they were paying temps to go into their offices and compile a database of names, addresses and some other information from the cards people returned from inside DVD’s they had brought.

                    She realised this was definitely something I could do and asked me to quote her. Of course I did this straight away and was offered the job. I was asked to provide a self-employment number for tax purposes, so I had to contact the Tax Office and go through the procedure of setting myself up as a proper self-employed person. This was a painless experience and I got my number very quickly. I also had to open a bank account with my business name, as the company would only send out cheques made payable to that. This was a turning point for me as I suddenly felt, this is real! I am actually doing this properly and setting all this stuff up really gave me motivation to work hard and find new avenues to explore and make work for me.

                    My sisters company still use me today and this is actually my main earner. Not only do I maintain their database, which now has over 120,000 names on it, I also do mail shots from it and statistics, along with the odd press release for a new DVD they are going to sell. All chargeable of course! This is also a great opportunity to get references. A major company like this happily employing some one in a self employed manner and working from home is a good reference to tell other people.

                    WHAT YOU WILL NEED

                    Well it depends entirely on what sort of work you intend to do. As I was offering secretarial services I needed a computer and printer, which I had already. I have updated the printer over the years to comply with the sorts of things I need to do, and I have added another printer that is a combination of fax, scanner and colour printer. I frequently fax letters for clients so this had proved very useful.

                    Over time I added other hardware to my collection, like comb binders for doing CV’s and a laminator. Also lots of peripherals like decent paper, envelopes, plastic wallets, labels and even little things like paper clips etc.

                    It can be an expensive process if you are truly starting from scratch although all these things can be offset against your income tax bill. Which leads me onto:

                    END OF YEAR

                    For every year so far that I have had to complete a tax return I have employed the services of an accountant. As my returns are not huge, they have charged me the minimal amount each year, although this is still just over £250.00 and we have had to correct things he has forgotten. This year my husband is going do it for me as he checked the accountants last year and found the errors. This will save me money and hopefully be just as easy.

                    (somethings you can claim back against your tax bill)

                    A portion of your electric and gas bills if you work from home.
                    All hardware and software brought for work purposes.
                    Advertising and marketing fees.
                    Peripherals and consumables.
                    Mileage.
                    Postage.
                    Phone bills (including internet fees)
                    Bank charges for your business account
                    Other professional services fees (like accountants)
                    Website host fees

                    You will be asked to pay the current years tax plus half again for the following year. This was a huge shock to me and I struggled to find the money the first year, but it does get easier. I currently put 22% of everything I earn in a separate account whenever I get paid. This way I know there is enough to pay my bill and pay the accountant each time. Sometimes there is a bit left over which is nice!

                    OVERALL OPINION ON BEING SELF EMPLOYED.

                    It is hard work. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. If you are sick, chances are you are going to carry on working anyway or you don’t get paid. I have found it really difficult at times to get the work done during the day, while looking after two young children. My son is now at school and my daughter starts Pre School in September so I will be able to really knuckle down and concentrate on drumming up more business when I have the morning to myself.

                    Being self-employed requires commitment too. I am usually exhausted each day as my daughter doesn’t sleep through the night but if there is a job that needs doing, I will work through the day when I can, then keep going all evening to get it done. This will in turn make you come across as reliable, efficient and effective in your work and will keep your customers coming back. It may be gruelling work and hard to put on a smile and say “no problem” when delivering a large piece of work but the knock on effects of professionalism is huge to you.

                    There are many benefits to me as well. I get to take my kids to school and be there to pick them up. I have lunch with them and make their tea at a reasonable time. If it is quiet then I get to spend days with them too. You can stop for a tea break whenever you like, although the more you break the less work you get done obviously.

                    I feel a real sense of achievement in everything I have managed to do so far. I feel important and content in my work, although I would like a larger turnover of profit, but this will come in time when I can devote more time to it.

                    The other nice thing is that as I become more confident in my abilities I can include new services. For instance, when I started it was basic data entry and letter writing that I did, but now I do CV’s professionally, audio typing, court documents, mail shots of over 4000 addresses, personal letters and business alike. There are so many things you can improve on when you run your own business and the hard work will pay off in the long run. Don’t be down if things don’t work out immediately. It has taken me five years so far and I’m still not where I want to be totally, but I am prepared to wait until I have the time to do the extra that is needed.

                    I would recommend being self employed if you are disciplined, confident, hard working, know your skill, organised and ready to take that leap of faith.

                    Good luck if you are setting up on your own!

                    Thanks for reading
                    xx

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                      24.02.2005 17:19
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                      • "No salary!"

                      I have been self employed for a few years now, working from home, running my own businesses, as welll as working with other companies.

                      It's not for the faint hearted! Although it may seem like the easy option, you need to be very disciplined, organised, and motivated - there is no-one to tell you to get up, start work etc, so it is easy to do everything BUT work! After all, there is always something to watch on the TV, interesting surfing to do on your computer, washing that needs to be put on, shopping that needs to be done, phone calls to friends that need to be made.....and don't forget if you work from home, all your friends will be quite happy to pop in for coffee when they get a chance, and whittle your hours down even further!!!

                      So set the ground rules - get yourself some office space, keep it tidy and organsied.
                      Set yourself some hours - I find it helps if you get yourself ready for work, dressed, rather than slopping around in PJ's!

                      Make sure that your friends know that you are working, and the hours you work - they would not pop around for a coffee if you worked in an office or a shop, so wnhy should they do it because you work at home?

                      Plan your days 1 day/1 week in advance - I always have a focus meeting on a Monday morning, and sort out what I plan to achieve in the coming week, and then break it down into days. That helps.

                      I found it harder running my own business, as I had to be a jack of all trades - from the original business idea to the planning of the business, preparation of the business plan, designing the leaflets, brochures, website, even delivering the leaflets myself! (Yes, i was on a shoestring budget!)

                      Now I work with another company - I am an Avon Sales Leader. My job is to find, recruit and train Avon Representatives, and to support them in their jobs, helping them in any way I can. I also take on other Sales Leaders, and teach them to do what I am doing.

                      This works quite well, because Avon have kindly(!) designed all the brochures, leaflets and documents I need, as well as a website, CD roms, DVD's etc - everything I need, so I spend a lot less time doing that, which leaves me more time to actually build and support my team of self employed Avon reps.

                      So if you are thinking about working from home, but don't know what to do, maybe working with a company like Avon would be a good way? It's working for me! It is no "get rich quick" scheme, but certainly you can watch your income build quite nicely, if you are prepred to put the effort in.

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                        21.01.2003 16:28
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                        Its days like this that I really enjoy being self employed, my daughter is off school ill and I can stay home and look after her. I don?t have to worry about having the day off or losing a days pay. I have been self employed for the past 5 years and would now find it very difficult to have to go and work for someone else and not be the boss. My title is Distribution Manager, sounds posh doesn?t it. The work I do is contract deliveries to promote new products from companies or new businesses in my area. At the moment I am in the middle of a contract promoting the new Nutri-Grain Elevensis Ginger Snack, you will probably see this soon advertised on T.V or on the shelves at the supermarket. I also have a homepage (see under my picture for the address) where you can visit shopping sites to buy books, kids clothes, wines, amazon and avon products, find romance or just play games to win prizes. I get a few pennies everytime someone clicks a banner. I also write on here and other similar sites and am a member of other paid survey sites. The first thing you need to set up as self employed is a Book Keeping Ledger, these can be bought at Stationary shops like W.H Smith. You enter two columns in the book. One for earnings and one for expences. Every time you earn money put the amount in the earnings column and list all your earnings in the other column. You will be surprised at all the things which come under expences, therefore reducing your Tax bill at the end of the year. Here are some of mine as a guide. Diesel for work purposes. Road Tax. Motor Insurance. Repairs on the car, tyres, services, parts, labour costs ect. Mobile phone as I use this for work only. House phone 25% of my quarterly bill is used to get contracts. Stationary. Postage. Business lunches. Advertising, this is for Internet charges, newspaper and shops. If you have to hire premises you
                        can also claim for the rates and rent, fortunately I work from home so don?t have these expences. You can also ring the Tax office in your area for advice on what other things you can claim in your expences if you are not sure. Every year you will be sent a Self assesment form to fill in and send back to the Tax office, don?t worry I often get mine filled in wrong, but they always send it back with the questions marked in red, where I have to adjust or have just missed out. They are very helpful when you first start up. If you haven?t worked for a full year you can then estimate your earnings and they will work your Tax out from these calculations instead. You can also claim Working Families Tax Credit. I belive its about to change because of the budget, but this is also easy to claim for. You can ring your local D.s.s for a form to start up. I claim every year but when I first started up I had to claim every six months. You have to send then a copy of your earnings and expences for the year, again they will estimate if you have only just started up. There are other questions to answer, like how many children you have, people that live with you, how many hour do you work ect. After you have sent this in you will have to wait a few weeks then they will write and let you know how much you qualify for, this amount can be paid into your bank account every two weeks or you can be sent a payment book to cash at the post office. So there you have it, I find it all very easy to set up and love the freedom of being my own boss, if I want a holiday I can have one, as it doesn?t matter if I don?t earn for a week, my family credit will cover the running of the house bills. The paperwork I moan about,but to be honest once I have got my head around settling down to do it, doesn't take too long and I always feel better once its out of the way. I hope this has been of some help to you.

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                          18.10.2001 00:30
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                          For those of you who can remember the halcyon days of Children's Television in the late 70s and early 80s when Tiswas, Swapshop et alii abound, then you'll certainly remember Mr Benn. Mr Benn used to go to a fancy dress shop every week and have an amazing adventure, being a knight one week, a chef the next etc. Well unfortunately you'll not have that kind of fun if you are self-employed, but you'll try a lot of different job roles. Whilst it may sound a bit pompous to use American terms and titles, being self employed, you'll find that you simultaneously will be doing the job of CEO, CFO, CTO, COO, various assistants? jobs as well as actually doing whatever your company specialises in. That?s right, you'll be the financial bod who has to count the beans going in and out, the marketing man who decides about special promotions and advertising, you'll be the man who puts in the tenders, you'll be the billing expert responsible for the punctual sending of invoices so that the money then comes in promptly (after all how many small businesses end up getting financially strangled by their large customers not paying quickly?) you'll be the PR "daaahling", having to meet and greet, and possibly promote, the sales person trying to get your foot in the door with potential customers. And then there is the actual work... As a self-employed translator, albeit with a lot of work coming from two agencies at the moment, I am aware of the various jobs I actually have to do to keep the business afloat, and to make sure things head on an upward turn and that there are no times of sitting round, waiting for work. Surely if I can get a lot of work from agencies, then I can let them take a lot of the pressure off me and find me the work, whilst I merely do it? Yes, but the middle man takes his cut of course. Take for example my case. One agency I work for charges ATS 17 (EUR 1.24) a line (55 characters including spaces) for the work I
                          do for them. So what do I receive from them? Answer ATS 12 (EUR 0.87). Now for a lot of the work I do I offer a very competitive rate of ATS 15 (EUR 1.09) for 60 characters or a premium rate of ATS 18 per 60 characters (EUR 1.31) which works out as ATS 16.50 per 55 characters (EUR 1.20). Already the figures start speaking for themselves. Relatively the overheads I incur are lower than a company that has to phone me to inform me of a translation, find out submission dates etc. as I am cutting out the middle-man and by basing my prices on non-capital city levels, in a capital city, I am gradually starting to squeeze business away from some competitors. Of course to get started I do need the agencies finding me translation work whilst I work up a buffer of cash to then allow me to really take them on. Another side is of course billing, which is a relatively straightforward process with a lot of electronic banking now happening, but that doesn't mean that it gets much simpler for you, as you still have to issue, check and send bills. Even just sending out about 40-50 invoices a month is a time consuming process until you automate the process. Attach banking arrangements ? drawing money out of accounts, ensuring that money is juggled accordingly, that you aren't losing too much from foreign currency transactions, or in my case that the various accounts in various parts of Europe have all been paid into and out of accordingly, as well as ensuringly that tax declarations are made in time, receipts correctly issued too, and it becomes a remarkably time consuming process. Of course as well as doing work for your present customers you have to look at future customers, and how to corner the market, or to attract new customers, a process that involves a lot of networking, working out attractive tenders etc. in order to attract new clients in the hope that you can lock them in on a more long-term basis. At the end of the day this is the fun p
                          art of being self-employed with waning contracts being resurrected and new business being hard to win but certainly a guaranteed adrenaline rush. New strategies, regarding contracting and pricing have to be looked at and of course time management, and efficiency is the key. Plus of course you need to be prepared to cope with problems e.g. moving offices and the 1001 associated pit-falls attached to changing premises e.g. internet connections needing to be reconnected, phone numbers changed, contacts updated, a lot of the work that the Human Resources department would be doing in a large company. Of course the Internet has proven to be my saviour, but of course for many people who are self-employed the Internet can also be their worst enemy. The internet enables me to weigh up the competition ? see what prices and services competitors are offering, exploiting the fact that I can do jobs via the Internet without having to be geographically near to the people I am offering the service to ? indeed I have never met one of my agency bosses ? quite a bizarre concept! At the same time, with Web Presence being a must if you are looking to get up and running as a business, it dilutes your time still further. Currently I am too busy to give my site an overhaul, which is not good, although I do ensure that my price list, contact details and all that are up-to-date so that at least my website remains informative. Well it might all sound a bit of a struggle, and I would admit that it isn't the easiest job in the world juggling work and the necessary pleasures of a personal/social life too. It does require utter commitment, faith in your own abilities, and also rationalising your thinking. Whereas at the outset the tiniest pitfall (and yes there are plenty of pitfalls to be encountered) seemed to nearly sink me, I have learned to deal with problems, to find contingency solutions to minimise losses, stay ahead of the game, improve customer portfolios, services
                          offered having in the process undergone an Ovidian metamorphosis from the wet-behind-the-ears new graduate fresh out of Uni to the hardened seasoned worker. Resilience, self-conviction and a good ability to cope with stress is essential as for every great day with won contracts, lucrative deals and so on, there can be many more where you are trying to get that vital break. Ultimately it has proven to be a great challenge, but one that I would not swap for anything as I feel the character building side of things as well as pecuniary success have been great experiences. This isn't an option for the faint hearted ? a normal 9-5 job will suit you a lot better if that is the case, but at the end of the day you can see the fruits of your labour a lot more clearly than merely being a tiny cog in a machine.

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                            03.10.2001 18:59
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                            • "long hours"

                            It is a risk to chose self employment over the tolerable stability offered by conventional employemnt - you never know if you are going to be able to pay the bills, much less yourself. Going it alone should be seriously considered - it is't an easy option, the odds are very good that you won't make your fortune and it is very hard work. I've been self employed for a year now and am just about breaking even. Fame and fortune are a long way away, but I'm keeping going. Hopefully the expereinces I've had will be of use. Why be self employed? Good reasons: liking the independance, having a good idea and wanting to make it work. Wanting to do something different. Bad reasons: wanting an easy life with easy money, wanting not to have to work hard, wanting lots of lie ins. Many people mistake self employment for an easy option, but it isn't. Ignore all those internet campaigns that tell you that for no work or outlay you can make a million, it simply isn't true. Are you suited to self employment? If you want to set up your own business, you need to be dedicated, hard working and self motivated. You need to be good at organising yourself, able to cope with responsibility, and able to cope if you fail to make any money. If you have bills to pay, children to feed then this may well not be a good idea for you. Self employment is risky - many small business do not last for more than three years and you could easily suffer financially.You need to be prepaired to work long hours, take no holidays and have no money and spend long hours on your own. If this sounds terrible, get a conventional job. If you think your idea is such a good one that it will be worth weathering the long slow start up period, then maybe you should consider giving it a go. Money: There are a range of ways of approaching self employment - you could write a business plan and get a large loan from the bank, or seek investment from venture capitalists. You
                            will need not only a good plan, but good presentation skills to follow this path. You are not starting out with free money, but with a huge debt, probably staked against your home. This can be terrifying. A large sum of money may make it easier to get set up, but remember that you will have to pay it back. Many of the dot com faliures were smothered by their debts. If you start up using your own capital, then you at least have the security of knowing that when you walk away, that's going to be it and you aren't gonig to be paying the bank back for the rest of your natural life. This is the option I chose - I had enough money to buy a computer and get online, and to pay the bills. The downside is that advertising and promotion cost a fortune, and without external resources, it will take a long time to establish yourself. You can occasionally get grants to help you on your way, but these aren't large and aren't easy to come by. Things to bear in mind - you will have to register for tax and national insurance. You will have to pay both. Keeping good records of every transaction you make results in tax forms not being too terrible. Keep copies of reciepts and invoices. Have a separate bank account for your business and use that - it works well. Employment law is complicated, so if you are taking on someone outside your family as an employee, make sure you know the law. Different types of company: Limited Company - it costs to set up, it requires you to pay more tax and takes a lot of extra effort to run as you have to submit your monthly accounts. It does give extra kudos, but while it appears to give some protection against bancrupcy, in reality, it doesn't. Partnerships - if you are working with someone else and you want to be partners, its well worth getting a formal contract drawn up - if anything goes wrong, this will be invaluable. Sole trader - if there's just one of you and you work from home, this makes
                            more sense. There's not much paperwork involved, and the requirements are few. I would recomend starting out as a sole trader and consdering becomeing a company only if your enterprise actually takes off. Working from home - here's thing worth knowing. Technically, if you seet up a business in your home you should tell the council so that they can charge you more tax. Any room used for business can be charged at business rates- ie if you convert your loft into an office, you will have to pay more. However, if you use your kitchen table to do your accounts, you don't have to pay for part of the table. If you occasinaly make business phone calls from your living room, you don't have to pay for your living room. Quite simply, if you have a few places around the house where you work but no "office' no one room put over exclusively to business, then life is a lot easier. If you have an "office" put a spare bed or bed settee in it, store a few household bits and pieces and lo, you have a spare bedroom from which you occasionally work. This is fine to do, and was actually recomended to me by a woman at my local council. More vital than anything else is a good idea based firmly on reality - its no good deciding your going to write websites if you don't know which way up the mouse goes. You should be using your own skills and expertise, if you aren't, you are off to a bad start. Spend some time learning about the industry you want to work in, about the market you want to sell to and the other people working in the same field. A bit of research early on can save you from making expensive mistakes. Spend a couple of months working out what you will do, how you will do it and sell it, who will buy it, what you can charge them, how you can promote yourself for the smallest outlay and the like. Think first, then act, and it will all be a lot better in the long run. To make a small business sucessful you need pa
                            tience, determination, a good brain and a fair amount of good luck. You also need the support of those around you - husbands, wives, offspring and friends. If you have an income in your hosuehold that can pay the bills, setting up on your own is far more viable. If you are going to work all the hours god sends, you are going to need someone else to get you something to eat. Teamwork within a home can massively increase the chances of your business working, and equally, family tensions can make it impossible. If you are thinking of going it alone, you have my very best wishes. It isn't easy, but there are few things more rewarding than money you have earned yourself, entirely by your own labours.

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                              16.09.2001 15:24
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                              I have worked for Walsall MBC for almost 30 years starting as Office Junior and working my way up to Local Government Accountant. For the most part I enjoyed my work with Walsall, but have had to give it up due to ill health. I am in the enviable position of not HAVING to work as my partner is in full time employment and I did get 3 months notice pay from Walsall, which I am using carefully. I decided that I would go ‘freelance’ and try and earn as much as I could without putting any undue strain on my health. As I say when I left Walsall I was given three months pay in lieu of notice together with almost another months worth of accrued holiday pay, not a lot for 30 years loyal service but that’s another story. I put this into a savings account with Egg and I use it on a month by month basis to ‘top up’ my finances. Although it was only effectively four months pay, I worked out that I could make it last nearer to twelve months! The first thing I did was to begin trying to set up my own small business knitting and selling baby clothes and making shawls with daisies made from wool. I have sold a few of these and have visited three craft fairs so far, but it is taking a while to get myself known. This will never make me a living, as the amount of work involved in making the shawls could never be recouped in the price I charge – I’d never sell one then! The real benefit of this was that it gave me a sense of purpose and quite a boost when I did sell something. Next came my first venture into employment (of sorts) was to take on a paper round. The reason that I had left work was continued ill health in the form of stress and depression and I read that regular exercise might well help. I decided to do a paper round delivering one of the local free sheets. They pay me 2p per paper delivered and my round consists of 206 houses. I also get extra for any leaflets that I deliver at the same time. <br> The papers and leaflets arrive on Thursday evening and I prepare them for delivery by inserting the leaflets in the papers and then loading them into the trolley supplied by the newspaper group. Dave then gives me a lift to the start of the round on his way to work on Friday morning and it takes me about an hour and a half to deliver them all. The lowest I ever earned for a week was £5.72 and the highest was £15.80, but it is usually around the £9 mark. My next job was as an enumerator on the census taken earlier this year. I had to go to a formal interview, which was nerve racking but I got the job and enjoyed it. I had to deliver the blank census forms, preferably handing them to a member of the household, and ask them to complete and return them to the census office. After 29th April, census day, I had to return to the houses where there had been no form returned to deliver a reminder. Again this was good exercise for me and it earned me £450.69. I was then asked to do my first job as a freelance accountant. Having worked for Local Government naturally my qualification is as a Local Government Accountant, which means that I did not have to study tax or employment law. This is turn means that any freelance work that I do can only be for small businesses or charities that do not pay any tax or employ any members of staff. Some friends of ours run the Gay and Lesbian Helpline in Ipswich and asked me if I would be prepared to do their end of year accounts for them, for which they would pay me £200. I was a bit out of practice at doing basic income and expenditure accounts and balance sheets but it soon came back to me and I quite enjoyed it. The accounts were praised at the AGM and I earned myself £200. When I left the employment of Walsall MBC I wrote to our local Electoral Registration Office and asked if they would put me on the register of people willing to work in the polling stations on Election Day. I w
                              as offered a job on the General Election and worked as a poll clerk and then as a counting assistant. It was a long day starting at 6.30 at the polling station and ending at about 1.30 the following morning when we had completed the count and the winner had been declared, but it earned me £110. So far my jobs have all been self-contained with a finite end, apart from my continuing paper round, so I can pick and choose what I do. I have now applied for another part time post working as a Merchandiser for a firm called MEM. They employ people to go to various supermarkets and monitor the stock of CD’s, videos, computer games etc. If I am successful I will have to go on Monday to set up the stock for the coming week and return on Thursday to complete the returns lists. Since all this work is untaxed I keep a spreadsheet on my PC showing all the money I earn from whatever source, on what date I received the money and the period covered by the money. That way, if I earn enough to warrant my filling in a tax return at the end of the tax year, I will have all the information to hand. As you obviously know I also work on the Internet, which is something that I can fit in around the other work that I do. I am a member of both Ciao and Dooyoo writing opinions on various products and getting paid for it. I work for a site called Visitor Friendly here I am a ‘mystery customer’ testing out websites. I complete all the questionnaires on YouGov, getting paid for my contribution. (Not very much I grant you!) I am also a member of Mailround who pay to stamp my incoming and outgoing mail. If you need more information on the websites that I have mentioned here I have done individual opinions on each one. I have run an Empire home shopping catalogue for many years now which pays me 10% commission in cash, but there’s only Dave and I have anything out of it, apart from the occasi
                              onal item for mom, so it doesn’t earn me very much, but every little helps! I don’t make enough money to actually live on as yet, as you can see, but by remaining my own boss I can choose the jobs that will earn me some cash without compromising my health. Hopefully my projects will expand with time!

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                                13.07.2001 03:46
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                                It is getting more difficult by the day to find secure employment in our country, and if you are unfortunate enough not to have any skills then it is nigh on impossible to find work. In our town the majority of people are signing on as unemployed, it is a sad fact but work is very scarce unless you are prepared to take on part time bar work etc. That is no good for a man trying to support his family. If you cannot find employment then why not try going self employed. It is not easy but if you hit on the right idea and work hard you can make a living. Ten years ago my husband was made redundant and he could not find a job for love or money even though he is a qualified electrician, but that did not deter him. He decided that if he could not find a job then he would make a job for himself. With £350.00 to our name he started off by making sandwiches to sell in offices and shops, as this took off he then went on to renting a pub kitchen for fifty pounds a week and started doing Sunday lunches etc. One year later I gave up my job and went in with him. We set up a café and made our sandwiches from there, he would go out every day doing his round and I ran the café side of it. Being self-employed is not so easy believe me. Everybody wants a wedge of the profit from the accountant to the taxman. It is very hard to break even but with effort and a lot of determination it is possible to make a living. First of all you have to find a demand for something, then you have to do your market research. Cost everything out to the last penny; find an understanding bank manager! (This is for when you find that your projections are not projecting as you thought they might.) You must be prepared to work seven days a week to get your business off the ground, there are no holidays to be had, unless you want to eat into that profit and pay somebody to do your job. At the end of a hard day you have to sit down an
                                d do the books and pay the bills etc. Before you go to bed you have to write yourself a list of things that you must not forget the following day, the jobs go on and on. Why do we do it? Simple really, we don’t have a boss breathing down our necks, we get such a thrill when we have a few quid to spare at the end of the month because we have made good profit, and the best thing of all, we have built something up from nothing. It certainly beats a dole cheque!

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