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Leaving your secure 9-to-5 might seem like a fairly reckless decision, but the winds of change are blowing through the economy, and working for yourself is the new hotness. Not convinced? Here are ten reasons you should type up that resignation letter right now.
The last Office for National Statistics Labour Market survey results in 2015 showed an all-time high number of people identifying as self-employed. For the first time the figure breached the 4.6 million mark after flirting with it for several years.
Government and independent research has shown time and time again that freelancing is on the rise around the world. A report from Freelancers Union in the US found that a full third of American workers do freelance work, and that figure could rise to 40% by 2020.
Freelancing used to be the preserve of journalists and photographers, but any profession can be done on a freelance basis now.
The other big story from the ONS’ Labour Market survey in December was that wage growth has slowed once again, still struggling to maintain the levels seen before the financial crisis in 2007.
Meanwhile, according to day rate figures we collect, freelance rates have grown around 11% since the beginning of 2013. The average day rate across the UK is now £305 (equivalent to an annual full-time wage of around £45,000).
The right to request flexible working was only available to parents for a long time, but as of July 2014 every employee has the right to request more flexible working hours for any reason. This means – presuming your employer grants your request – you can dip your toes in the freelance waters while maintaining the safety net of a full-time salary.
Slowly reducing your full-time hours while you build up your freelance business is a great way to leave your job while minimising money worries.
Whatever your industry there’s a good chance there’s an online marketplace or recruitment platform out there to help you find work.
For creatives (designers, writers and the like) there are plenty of great freelance job sites, while drivers can become self-employed with Uber, and crafty folk can sell their wares on Etsy. IT contractors can find work on Elevate, and anyone with a bike can find work delivering parcels for Amazon or food for Deliveroo.
The on-demand economy which has been created by mobile apps and smart technology is powered in a big part by an army of freelance workers. Leave your job and you can be selling your services on one of these platforms in minutes.
In 2015 we contributed to the Brighton Fuse 2 research, which specifically looking into the working habits and lives of freelancers. This research found that freelancers have above-average levels of satisfaction compared to the entire population (7.6 vs 7.4 out of 10), and are also happier than their full-time counterparts (7.5 vs 7.3). Principal Investigator Dr Jonathan Sapsed said:
“For many, freelancing is emerging as the ideal lifestyle, especially in creative and digital industries where people can work from any location, including home, and which demand high levels of innovation.”
The debate around the health benefits (or otherwise) of sitting at a desk all day continues to rage, but there’s a good body of evidence that sitting in the same place for 8 hours a day is not good for your health, and is actually taking years off your life.
The World Health Organisation claims that inactivity is a bigger killer than obesity, so leaving your job and abandoning your drab little cubicle might do more than increase your earnings and happiness – it might actually save your life.
Full-timers will always be limited to a certain amount of travel every year by their holiday allowance (unless they’re one of the lucky few working in an office with unlimited leave), but those who choose to leave their job and embrace the freelance lifestyle aren’t bound by any such rules.
In fact, the prevalence of online work and worldwide WiFi means work can be accomplished just about anywhere – take your laptop with you and you can be doing client work by the pool with ease. This freedom has led to a movement known as digital nomadism – freelance workers unbound by physical location, who live a life of continual travel funded by the work they do along the way.
There’s little point leaving the 9-to-5 behind if you’re just exchanging it for a 9-to-5 at your kitchen table. Making the most of a freelance lifestyle means working when you want to, and stopping work when you want to. Guinness World Record-holding blogger Darren Murph explains the thinking behind the non-linear workday in his book Living the Remote Dream:
“What’s most galling about the typical “9 to 5” mentality is just how many hours this leaves on the table. There aren’t many economies left in the world that aren’t global on some level. Schedules that were determined scores ago didn’t take time zones into account.
“They didn’t take the Internet into account. They didn’t take voicemail and inboxes and notifications and mobility into account. It’s time we started accounting for all of that.”
Basically, if you want to do something in the middle of the day there’s nothing stopping you. You can make those hours up later, or just accept the lost earnings. The pursuit of this freedom is what leads many freelancers to leave their jobs in the first place.
The annual Self Assessment nightmare (coming up soon!) for freelancers is gradually being phased out by the Government’s new Digital Tax Accounts, which will provide a central hub for all taxpayers to manage their contributions.
Previously the requirement to file your own tax return and set aside money to pay your tax bill has stopped many people leaving their jobs and going freelance, but if correctly implemented the new Tax Accounts could remove a lot of the stress and uncertainty. And, of course, there’s some great online accounting software out there to help you out too!
Lots of skilled professionals who dream of a freelance lifestyle tell themselves they’ll leave their job and start a business when the time is right – but speak to any seasoned business owner and you’ll discover the right time never comes along.
Rather than waiting for the perfect moment, look for a moment that’s good enough. The chance to dive right into a big freelance contract, or moving to a part-time role with your current employer, giving you some free time to build up your business.
If the New Year has you brimming with enthusiasm and entrepreneurial zeal, why not just go for it? Print off that resignation letter, give it to your boss and join the growing ranks of high-earning, mobile, happy, healthy freelancers who have left their 9-to-5 jobs behind.
If you reckon it’s time for a career change and are considering setting up your own business, visit our #GetStarted homepage for free resources and advice on how to make it happen.
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