Is self-employment right for me?

Before you start working for yourself, it's a good idea to consider all the implications of being self-employed.

This guide will take you through the pros and cons of self-employment, the personal qualities and business skills you’ll need if you want to be your own boss, and some tips to make sure your family life doesn't suffer while you build your business.

1. The pros and cons of being self-employed

Why become self-employed?

It's good to have definite reasons for becoming self-employed, and a clear picture of what you want to achieve. Ask yourself these questions as a starting point:

  • Do you know exactly what you are going to do?
  • Does it use your strongest skills?
  • Can you earn enough money doing it?
  • Where would you like to be in five years' time, and will being self-employed help you get there?

There are plenty of good reasons to become self-employed but discontent with your current job, or being unemployed, may not be the best reasons.

Here are some of the potential advantages and disadvantages to help you think it through further.

Potential advantages of self-employment:

  • You create your own success, with the potential to earn more over time.
  • More independence – you decide what you do and when you do it.
  • You choose to work full or part-time and set your own hours – you could enjoy a better work/life balance.
  • You could improve your quality of life and enjoy more job satisfaction by cutting out the daily commute, avoiding office politics, or being able to focus on what you enjoy most.

Potential disadvantages to self-employment:

  • Increased stress – the responsibility for success or failure, loss and profit, all lies with you. You won't have paid holidays or sick pay, and you could earn less in the short term.
  • You won’t have a manager to direct you, motivate you or give you moral support.
  • You could feel isolated and lonely.
  • You could end up working long hours and spending less time with your family.
  • You'll be responsible for your own tax affairs and pension.

Looking ahead

It could pay to look further into the future and think about what will happen if you make a success of being self-employed:

  • How do you see your business growing and developing?
  • Do you plan to take on staff and become an owner-manager or continue working alone?
  • Would your business outlook alter if things changed at home – having children, getting married or caring for elderly family members?

Back to top

2. The qualities you’ll need to succeed

Is self employment right for me

You'll need the right personal qualities and business skills to make a success of self-employment. Try to assess your character and ask colleagues, friends and family to give you an honest view of your qualities.

Personal qualities needed for success

The main factors for success in starting a small business are:

  • Determination and drive.
  • Clear objectives.
  • The ability to work hard.
  • The readiness to listen and learn.
  • Common sense and realism.
  • A definite focus.

Business skills needed for success

If you're a mechanic, musician or beautician, your business may be based on your specific skills. Whatever your line of work, you'll need to have the right business skills too. Take a look at other businesses to see the variety of skills and knowledge you might need, such as:

  • Time management
  • Accountancy
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Sales (selling yourself and your idea to lenders, investors, potential partners and employees, and also selling your products and services to customers)

You may have all these skills already or want to take on an employee, consultant or freelancer to provide some of them for you. You could even learn some new skills yourself.

Tax and National Insurance know how

If you become self-employed you'll need to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), either online or by calling 0300 200 3500. They'll send you a guide to starting up in business that explains the records you'll need to keep, how to pay your National Insurance and how they'll calculate your tax.

You'll be sent a self-assessment tax return to fill in every year. So you'll need to be organised about keeping records and completing your return on time. Find out more information on how HMRC can help you.

Protecting your family life

Working for yourself can dramatically change your lifestyle. For example, regular working hours could be a thing of the past, so make sure you're ready.

  • Talk with family and friends about how your life will change, and what it could mean for them.
  • Make sure that anyone who depends on you understands that your income could fall in the short term and could be less predictable in the future.
  • Be prepared for increased financial and emotional pressure on you and your family.

Back to top

3. Working from home

If you decide to work from home, here are some essentials to think about. Practical issues:

  • Aim for a sensible work/life balance – put a limit on your work time and don't be tempted to work long hours just because you're always near your desk.
  • Keep work and home life apart. Let your family know when you'll be working, and allocate an area of the house to work so you can avoid distractions.
  • If clients or colleagues are likely to visit make sure you dress for work and that your 'office' looks professional. Think about installing a separate phone line for work.
  • If your home doesn't have enough space for you to run your business, you'll need to look at alternatives.


You will probably need to extend your home contents insurance to cover work materials and computers and to protect you and your business from financial risk:

  • Tell your insurers that you're running a business from home and check that you are covered.
  • A specialised home worker's policy will cover you for business interruption if, for example, your home was flooded.
  • If you employ anyone – even part-time – you'll need employer's liability insurance.
  • It's advisable to do a risk assessment of any parts of your home the public might visit – you might need public liability insurance in case someone injures themselves while on your property.
  • Think about taking out permanent health/accident insurance. If you're unable to work because of an accident or serious illness, this will give you a regular income.

Find out more about our Business Insurance

Legal issues

Here are the most important laws, rules and guidelines you need to be aware of:

  • Ask your local authority whether you need planning permission to use your home for business purposes, especially if you need to make alterations.
  • If you employ staff, make sure you know your employees' rights, including the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the Working Time Directive (limiting the hours employees can work per week).
  • Disability legislation: the Disability Discrimination Act covers small businesses. See Government services and information for details.
  • Check your mortgage to see if running a business is allowed, and inform your lender if needs be.

Back to top

4. Where to go for advice

HMRC Business Guidance

If you want to get help with tax-related issues then HMRC offers a variety of tools and guides online. These include:

  • An e-learning package covering all aspects of starting and growing a business.
  • Webinars on subjects like VAT, business expenses and record keeping.
  • Useful YouTube videos with quick overviews on topics like PAYE.
  • A free business education email service.
  • Tools and apps that can help with putting together your first tax bill.
  • HMRC’s SME Tax Widget, which offers video tax guides.

Visit the HMRC for a full list of their tools and guides.

Back to top

Important legal information

The products and services outlined on this site may be offered by legal entities from across Lloyds Banking Group, including Lloyds Bank plc and Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Lloyds Bank plc and Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc are separate legal entities within the Lloyds Banking Group.

Calls may be monitored or recorded in case we need to check we have carried out your instructions correctly and to help improve our quality of service. Please note that any data sent via e-mail is not secure and may be read by others.

Lloyds Bank is a trading name of Lloyds Bank plc, Bank of Scotland plc and Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Lloyds Bank plc. Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no.2065. Bank of Scotland plc. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Registered in Scotland no. SC327000. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Registered office 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 10399850. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 119278, 169628 and 763256 respectively.

Eligible deposits with us are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). We are covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Please note that due to FSCS and FOS eligibility criteria not all business customers will be covered.

Lloyds Banking Group includes companies using brands including Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland and their associated companies. More information on Lloyds Banking Group can be found at

While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information provided is correct, no liability is accepted by Lloyds Bank for any loss or damage caused to any person relying on any statement or omission. This is for information only and should not be relied upon as offering advice for any set of circumstances. Specific advice should always be sought in each instance.