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Planning Retirement Online

A Guide to Job Searching in Later Life

Part 8 -

The self employment option

DonWilde2.jpg (9403 bytes)For those who want a change of scene, of tempo, of accountability or many other aspects of their working life, there is the option of going self-employed rather than continuing in employment. This option often appeals to those in later life who “fancy doing something completely different before hanging up their boots”.

The lure of being your own boss and doing what YOU want to do is a very real one, and works very well for a large number of those who make the leap, but it is not straightforward and CAN fail to work out. It makes sense to approach things with a sense of realism and a “plan B”.

Not everyone is suited to the world of self-employment. As well as the functional skills that you will actually be selling, you will probably require all or some of the following (depending on the kind of work you will be doing).

  • The ability to market and sell yourself and your service or product

  • Sufficient financial awareness to run the operation

  • Good health and a degree of energy - particularly in the early days

  • Motivation and tenacity to achieve against the odds

  • A good level of judgement and decisiveness

  • not to mention communication skills, IT awareness, self-sufficiency and time management skills.

If you think that you have got the necessary attributes AND INTEREST there are a number of different types of self-employment – which you may be following in either the same function/technology as your previous employment, or a different one.

  1. Contract working, often through an agency – seeking temporary assignments on a daily or weekly paid basis

  2. Consultancy – selling your skills (often those accrued during your earlier career) to undertake specific projects or assignments

  3. Interim Management – again often through a specialist agency who will be commissioned to provide interims to cover a specific short- or medium-term management requirement

  4. Buying an existing commercial concern – often in a completely different discipline e.g. a B&B, Post Office

  5. Starting up a new business – e.g. landscape gardening, chauffeur service

  6. Buying into a Franchise operation. These cover a wide range of opportunities from financial advisers, through restaurants, laundrettes, property management etc.

What is essential, whichever option you choose, is to do an inordinate amount of research and satisfy yourself that it is likely to work, that you are capable of managing it, and that you are going to enjoy doing it.

The following are some suggestions on organisations who will be able to assist you both with the up-front research and with actually getting your business up and running.

One certainty is that you will be ceasing your employed status, and this has clear tax, insurance and legal implications (for example, whether you should operate as a sole trader or a limited company).

The Inland Revenue are now geared up to provide a very comprehensive (and supportive) service covering tax and insurance aspects as well as more general topics. They produce an information pack entitled “The right way to start your business – cutting through the red tape” and also operate a helpline for the newly self-employed on 0300 200 3504 (8am-8pm, 7 days). There are also a welter of individual leaflets regarding specifics of tax, insurance etc. Also go to the Government website, www.gov.uk for help and advice on all aspects of becoming self-employed.

The major clearing banks will encourage you to bank with them by offering a “small business” service and lots of help and advice with business planning and financial matters.

If you are interesting in moving into a franchise, you might start with theBritish Franchise Association.

To find out more about Interim Management and contact details of the major interim consultancies, contact in the first instance theInterim Management Association.

And, of course, talk as much as you can to colleagues who have tried on their own, to people who you find out to be in the same business or with the same agency or franchisor as you are considering. Once you have actively started down the road of setting up the business, changing direction or retreating may be rather akin to a Japanese tanker – so do all the investigations and analyses before you commit yourself.

The move may require considerable courage and effort, but the rewards can be great in all sorts of ways – so good luck!

Don Wilde, the writter of this Guide, has many years experience in outplacement and career consultancy, latterly on a self-employed basis but prior to that within the IT industry. He has experience in a variety of human resources, business and project management, and staff development roles.
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