Striking out on your own? You’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of workers are leaving their jobs and opting to work for themselves. But if this is your first experiment with working for yourself, you may need a few tips to survive self-employment.
Why? The human resources department that used to handle complex things like withholding, FICA taxes and health insurance is now gone — replaced by you. Moreover, safety nets that employees take for granted — unemployment and disability insurance, for example — are largely unavailable when you’re self-employed. And forget about regular paychecks. Even if you find regular work, clients don’t always pay promptly. Sometimes they don’t pay at all.
Of course the benefits of self-employment — flexibility, independence and greater income potential — are well worth the challenges. But a brief guide can help you sidestep some of the most vexing problems. These five tips can help you survive — and thrive — in self-employment.
1. Know your options
Most people don’t quit a full-time job until they have a client or two ready to hire them. However, nothing about self-employment is certain. So, it’s helpful to know that copious online job sites can help you find new clients, if and when you need them.
And it’s not a bad idea to sign up with these sites — and ideally, accept a few gigs — long before you run out of work. That’s because many sites promote your profile after you have successfully completed work there. And the more work you’ve done, the more likely the site is to give you a marketing push.
To be sure, adding gigs to an already-full schedule could make your first months of self-employment overwhelmingly busy. But there are worse ways to launch your own business. And working extra at the start will also help with another of the key tips to survive self-employment — boosting your emergency fund. (More on that later.)
Good job sites
What job sites should you use? That depends on what you do. For professionals, the best job platforms specialize in just a few work categories. For instance, staffing giant Robert Half specializes in finance, accounting, law and healthcare. SMA Inc. offers copious opportunities for engineers and project managers. For those looking for jobs in tech, Braintrust and Catalant are good choices. And WorkingNotWorking and Creatively are great options for those looking for marketing, design and film gigs.
However, broader job platforms, such as Fiverr and TaskRabbit, are often better choices for people looking for project work in fields including writing and human resources. Fiverr largely specializes in remote work, so it’s a great place to offer resume writing, translation services or nutrition consulting, for instance.
TaskRabbit, on the other hand, largely focuses on in-person work in a number of vocations such as personal shopping, building furniture and hanging pictures. Both sites allow freelancers to set their own rates and determine the nature of the services they offer.
2. Get covered
If you can’t piggyback on a traditionally employed spouse’s health plan, you’ll need to buy health coverage. Yes, it’s expensive. But it’s less expensive than trying to pay an unexpected hospital bill by yourself.
Losing health insurance as a result of a job loss is generally a “qualifying event” that allows you to buy coverage through state and federal health exchanges at any …….