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Why would you?

You might:

  • Feel less sure about conventional employers or have tried them out and been less happy.
  • Consider that your talents would flourish in a situation where you were managing your own activity and output. Evaluate first your skills, interests and motivation using the guidance tools in 'Plan Your Career' before moving away from considering employment. Gain experience through being employed by others initially, as many self-employed do in the first place.
  • You might prioritise self-employment as an option in the following circumstances:
    • As someone with an innovative idea based on your research or another area.
    • As an artistic, craftsperson, or creative IT type.
    • As someone with home-based responsibilities.
    • If living away from a centre of employment.
    • If you consider yourself to be outside the norm of graduates sought by employers e.g. educational background, experience required.


The Upside : The Downside

The 'upside' of working for yourself includes:

  • Choice of when to work.
  • Choice of combining other significant activities with paid work.
  • Decide what your priorities, both work and personal, are and how and when you will address them.

The 'downside' which must be recognised, anticipated and planned for includes:

  • Insecurity - payment may be slow and hours may be long.
  • Support may be harder to find and you will need to 'buy in' services that come with the job in a paid environment such as filing tax returns.
  • The personal and social support of colleagues - a significant aspect to job satisfaction overall - may also not be present, particularly in the early stages, so it is necessary to 'network' actively ongoing for purposes of remaining up-to-date and motivated!
  • Longer term financial considerations do need to be considered (health insurance, pensions) and paid from an early stage.


Starting Out

Fundamentally you will be working to provide some sort of product or service - no matter what it is. If at this stage the concept of 'self-employment' seems a good one, but you are not sure which direction to take, consider:

  • Yourself, your skills, interests and special talents that could be put to 'saleable' use.
  • Where you live - what is needed? Where is the 'gap' in goods services, amenities? How might these be addressed and could you supply some aspect of what is required and ahead of the competition.
  • Understanding and using technology: from basic computer use (invoices, contracts, customers details) to exploiting the potential of the internet for on-line business opportunity - IT will be central to your success.


What you need: Your Business Plan

A strong business plan is essential to starting-up, gaining support and success. Your business plan is a statement of interest. It should provide details of how you are going to develop your business, when you are going to do it, who's going to be involved, the potential market, and how you plan to manage it financially.

Your plan should include:

  • An executive summary: The overview - funding sources may well make judgments based on this section alone.
  • A short description of the business opportunity - who you are, what you plan to sell or offer, why and to whom.
  • Marketing and sales strategy - why you think people will buy and how you plan to sell to them.
  • Your management team and personnel - your credentials and the team's skills.
  • Operations: Premises, facilities, IT.
  • Financial forecasting: translate the plan into figures.


What you need to be like:

According to Shell Live Wire you should have business ideas which need to be BRIGHT in order to succeed:

Business orientated - the whole point of the exercise
Realistic - to succeed
Innovative - to do something new
Genuine - filling a real need
Honest - it goes without saying
Timely - be sure you haven't missed the boat.

A successful entrepreneur needs to be a Manager, a Salesperson, an Entrepreneur, an Administrator and a Worker, a Learner and a Thinker. Different businesses require a different balance of these skills. You may be able to get training through Enterprise Office to gain the skills you feel you need.

Related Resources

College Initiatives:

Employer & Government Initiatives:

More Resources:



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What’s On?

Just wanted to say thanks for your help yesterday. The meeting was very helpful and really made me assess what's important to me in a career. I feel much more comfortable now about where I want to go and what I want to do, so thanks for your help.

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