Self-employed? Is career progression still possible?

How to maintain the skills needed to succeed

When global printing experts Epson surveyed 1,000 UK freelancers, they found that 29% felt their career progression had been stunted and 27% admitted they’ve de-skilled since becoming self-employed.

If you’re self-employed, then very often, you are the business, so having the right skills to succeed is vital.

One in seven people now work for themselves, according to IPSEThe Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed — so being aware of and accessing available training is vital for success.

Why might people feel their career progression has been halted, how can you progress your career if you’re self-employed and why do you need to?

Recognise that it’s your responsibility now

Unlike the good old days when you were in a job with a boss, once you become self-employed, training and exposure to new experiences is down to you and you alone.

If finances are tight, it can be difficult to allocate a training budget just for you and training and further education can often fall by the wayside.

Career progression for the employed, particularly in larger firms, can be seen as a measure of success. It’s also the road to an increase in pay and benefits.

But if you’re self-employed you can’t very well promote yourself! Well you can but it would be rather pointless!

As you move through the ranks in employment, your CV changes too and new opportunities can open up with other companies.

Without the training, promotions and added benefits available to you, being self-employed can mean your level of experience plateaus.

So how can you continue to progress?

Available free time and expense are big barriers to training and further qualifications.

However, there are online courses available which can be completed at times to suit your schedule. Many courses are free or subsidised too.

There have been calls for the Government to make training courses tax deductible for the self-employed but so far, there has been no change of policy.

Remember – information costs nothing

HMRC has a wealth of information online to help people set-up and run their own businesses. Reed, the recruitment company has a list of free courses as does The Open University, so take a look around to see what’s available and broaden your horizons.

If you’re starting or running your own business and are aged between 18 and 30, you might want to look at The Princes Trust. Their website has lots of free resources to help kick start your business.

Make time for yourself

To give you more free time (easier said than done) make sure tasks such as admin and accounting are being carried out as efficiently as possible. There are plenty of cloud-based accounting apps, such as Xero, which make invoicing and expenses much quicker.

If you can afford to, outsource some of your business tasks, such as marketing or social media, giving yourself more time to study or train.

Network, network, network!

Don’t forget to network, network, network.

This is another way to progress your career when you’re self-employed.

It’s not everyone’s forte but meeting your peers and potential clients at events are an important way to raise your visibility.

Use social media to shout about your achievements and skills too. Ask clients to recommend you for a certain skill to show clients the experience you have.

Why do I need to upskill?

The skills needed by your clients will evolve, as our digital, cultural and economic landscape changes. If you can’t meet their needs then your career and earning potential will suffer as a result.

It can be easy to shy away from learning new things because we think it’s too difficult, too expensive or too time consuming. The fact is, we should never stop learning and if you’re self-employed the onus is on you to go out and find ways to broaden your knowledge.

Remember though, becoming self-employed has, in itself, meant that in all probability you will have already acquired some new skills in your arsenal. Don’t downplay accounting, marketing, sales, IT and HR for example, even if you don’t get a new job title to go along with them.

Accounting can be taxing

Expenses, invoicing, payroll and self-assessments can be time consuming.

Hiring a good accountant will give you more time to yourself. They’ll also be able to advise you on how to grow your business, suggest a new target audience or manage your finances more efficiently.

At THP, we love to hear from self employed people and new businesses, so why not give us a call or come and visit us at one of our THP offices located in  CheamChelmsfordWansteadSaffron Walden and London City.

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