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Be your own boss – a guide for UK school & college leavers

13 Jul 2023

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working for somebody else?

Why use your own valuable time and unique talents to make somebody else more wealthy?

Wouldn’t you be better off using all of your assets to further your own career and build your own personal fortune instead of boosting someone else’s business?

There are many types of jobs which are perfectly suited to UK school & college leavers who would much rather go it alone rather than sign away their life to a company or brand which they don’t really invest themselves in.

We’ll get to some of the best types of ‘be your own boss’ jobs later…

But, before we look at some of the roles, let’s see what some of the advantages of being self-employed actually are!

Why be your own boss?

There are many advantages for UK school & college leavers to work for themselves, either full time or part time, but on a self-employed basis.

Here are a few key advantages for you to think about:

  • Flexibility: Being your own boss allows you to have greater control over your schedule. YOU choose when and where you work, which gives you the flexibility to accommodate personal commitments, pursue other interests and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Pursue YOUR OWN passions: Self-employment gives you the opportunity to turn your passions into a profession. You can focus on things that actually interest you rather than following someone else’s dream. You should enjoy your work and feel more fulfilled in your career.
  • Higher earning potential: As a self-employed worker, you often have the potential to earn more than if you were working as an employee. You can set your own rates or prices for your products or services so your income will more directly reflect the effort you put into your business.
  • Job security: While self-employment obviously comes with its risks – such as fluctuating income and uncertainty – it can nevertheless provide even more job security sometimes, in the sense that you are not wholly dependent on a single employer. You have the ability to diversify your client base and revenue streams, reducing the impact of losing a single client or contract.
  • Personal growth: Working as your own boss can be a transformative experience that really boosts personal growth for young people. It challenges you to step outside your comfort zone, take risks and learn from both successes and failures. It should ultimately enhance your skills, confidence and resilience.
  • Tax benefits: Self-employed individuals are often eligible for various tax deductions and benefits – such as deducting business expenses, claiming home office expenses and contributing to tax-efficient retirement plans. These tax advantages can help you maximise your income and reduce your overall tax burden.

BUT REMEMBER, being your own boss requires dedication, discipline and perseverance.

It’s important to carefully consider your own strengths, weaknesses and interests (as well as market demand) before setting off on the journey of working for yourself.

For more about the legalities and technicalities of working for yourself in the UK, you will find lots of information on the GOV.UK website.

Watch the video then scroll down for more detailed information about the jobs and how to get started working for yourself…

5 of the best jobs where you can be your own boss

There are countless examples of jobs where you can work for yourself, so we’ll keep this list short and simply give you 5 of our favorite examples.

  1. Accountant (earning potential – £42,400 per year)

    Some people have a negative opinion of accountants and think of them as boring. Accountants sometimes get labelled with derogatory terms such as ‘bean counters’ or ‘pen pushers’.

    BUT, do these people know that you could potentially earn over £40k a year working as a self-employed accountant? Nothing much boring about that, is there?

    Accountants keep track of financial information, prepare tax returns and offer financial advice to both businesses and individuals. They’re in high demand in the UK because businesses, both big and small, are always on the look out for help with their finances.

    If this option interests you then there are a number of ways for school and college leavers in the UK to get the qualifications and certifications they need to become accountants.

    One option is to study for a degree in accounting (or a related subject). Another option is to complete a professional accounting qualification, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification.

    Accountants can command a very good salary and have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries and sectors, meaning you can get experience of how businesses work overall.

  2. Tutor (earning potential – £41,612 per year)

    Tutoring, as a way of making money on a self-employed basis, is on an upward curve in the UK at the moment.

    This trend can be put down to a number of factors, including:

    • How the school curriculum in the UK is getting more complex
    • The increasing pressures on students to achieve good grades
    • The growing number of parents looking for extra support for their kids’ education

    So, why not take advantage of the rise in demand for tutors and see if you can find a gap in the market for your particular skill set and background knowledge of a particular subject (or subjects)?

    What could be more rewarding than passing on your own knowledge and skills to the younger generation and seeing your own students blossoming and succeeding from the help you’ve given them?

    If you fancy working as an online or offline tutor in the UK, then the most popular subjects for you to think about are probably English and Maths or the most popular foreign languages and branches of science.

    That said, there is also a growing demand for tutoring in less obvious subjects like music, art, and sport.

    How much you can potentially earn will vary depending on the subject you are going to be teaching and the amount of experience you have as a tutor.

    To become a successful self-employed tutor in the UK, you should ideally have the following skills and/or qualifications:

    • Excellent knowledge of the subject you are teaching
    • The ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise way
    • Patience and understanding
    • A knack for motivating and inspiring students
    • Good time management skills

    Depending on the subject you choose, you might also need a specific qualification, such as a degree in education or a teaching qualification.

    If you do have the right skills and qualifications, however, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get started as a successful and high-earning tutor in the UK within a short space of time.

  3. Videographer (earning potential – £37,050 per year)

    Video content is everywhere you turn these days. And, usually, whenever something is everywhere, there’s a way to make money out of it by being your own boss!

    Businesses use video to connect with customers. Schools use it to teach almost every subject you can think of. And almost everyone consumes video to entertain themselves on social media or while they are sitting on the sofa.

    So, if you’re interested in a career in videography, now is a great time to get started. The earning potential is good – and there are very few barriers to entry.

    To become a videographer, you’ll need to have some technical skills, such as the ability to use video cameras and editing software.

    But you’ll also need to be creative and have the ability to tell stories through the medium of video.

    And, if you want to be successful, you’ll also need to have some business skills, such as the ability to market yourself and find clients.

    The good news is that there are many ways to learn everything you need to know about videography without taking expensive courses.

    You can watch tutorials online or even just practice on your own. Make mistakes – and learn from them. Then, once you’ve honed your skills, there are plenty of opportunities to find work as a self-employed videographer.

    So, if you’re looking for a creative and rewarding career, videography could be the perfect fit for you.

    It’s a fast-changing landscape, though, so just remember to be prepared to work hard and never stop learning.

  4. Freelance writer (earning potential – £31,065 per year)

    If you are a fan of the written word, then maybe freelance writing could be a lucrative enterprise for you as a way of being your own boss.

    Freelance writers write about anything and everything. And they can write for a variety of industries. Some common ones include:

    • Technology
    • Business & Marketing
    • Healthcare
    • Education
    • Nonprofit
    • Media
    • Government

    Obviously, it’s ideal if you already have a working knowledge of the industries you’d like to specialise in.

    However, these days, it’s pretty easy to do most of your research online. Your earning potential will actually be more about how well you can turn your research into highly-readable and digestible content and how well you can sell yourself as a writer.

    Also, if you’re not going to be freelancing for an offline publication, showcasing your skills as an SEO-friendly content writer will put you near to the top of the list for getting the contract.

    Some of the typical publications you might be able to work for as a Be-Your-Own Boss freelance writer include:

    • Newspapers
    • Magazines
    • Websites
    • Blogs
    • Ebooks

    To be successful as a freelance writer, you need to have strong writing skills, excellent research skills, the ability to meet deadlines, the ability to work independently – and, perhaps most important of all, the ability to market yourself and your services.

  5. Events planner (earning potential – £39,922 per year)

    Event planners are the people in charge of making sure that events go off without a hitch. The role includes planning, coordinating and executing all aspects of an event, from the initial concept to the final details.

    Some of the advantages of being a self-employed event planner include:

    • The ability to set your own hours and work from anywhere
    • The opportunity to be creative and innovative
    • The chance to build a strong network of clients
    • The potential to earn a high salary

    Event planners need to have a strong understanding of the events industry, as well as the ability to manage multiple tasks at once. You will also need to be able to work well with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds.

    The event planning industry is growing. And that means there are opportunities for students in a variety of settings; including corporate, social and government events.

    To start your own event planning business, here are some of the skills and qualities you’ll need to succeed:

    • Strong organizational and time management skills
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
    • The ability to think creatively and solve problems
    • Attention to detail
    • The ability to work independently and as part of a team
    • Experience in the event planning industry is helpful, but not always required

    Overall, being a self-employed event planner can be a rewarding and profitable career as long as you are organized, creative and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Even more types of jobs where you can be your own boss:

As we said earlier, there’s a whole host of jobs which UK school & college leavers can do on a self-employed basis.

So, if you don’t fancy any of those previous 5 types of roles, then how about some of these?

  • Personal trainer
  • Tradesperson (plumbing, carpentry, electrical work etc.)
  • Web designer
  • Virtual assistant
  • Graphic designer
  • Social media manager

Summing up

Hopefully, we’ve helped you to decide whether or not being your own boss is a good idea for you personally.

And we hope we’ve given you some good ideas on where to get started with a few of the best types of roles where you can work for yourself in the UK.

There are lots of advantages to being self-employed for UK school and college leavers, but it’s not necessarily the route for everyone. Some people much prefer to have an employer and not have the responsibility of being their own boss.

It depends on many factors and only you will know which is the best option for you.

By choosing to work for yourself, you can enjoy the flexibility to control your schedule, pursue your passions and potentially earn more money.

And being self-employed also allows for personal growth, job security through diversification, and various tax benefits.

However, embarking on the journey of working for yourself requires dedication, discipline, and perseverance.

It is crucial to consider your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and market demand before venturing into self-employment.

But, ultimately, being your own boss presents a world of possibilities, allowing you to shape your own career path and build your own success.

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