Author Topic: Self employment advice please  (Read 2931 times)

Sofie

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Self employment advice please
« on: January 29, 2012, 02:25:04 PM »
Really getting fed up of getting nowhere with job hunting and am considering self employment.

I am hoping to go down the route of a DSA needs assessor / assistive technology adviser for businesses, etc.

I have some questions about this:
- How difficult is self-employment?
- I understand that I need to sort out tax, etc. Again, how hard is it?

Also, self employment or employed by someone - has anyone ever had this type of job?

ditchdwellers

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2012, 05:27:59 PM »
Self employment can be a good option for some people, who perhaps want or need a flexible working pattern.  However, it can also be damn hard work and is not an easy option.  To start with, you need to work out precisely what services you want to offer and how you will go about offering them.  Then you need to check out the competition - who else is offering similar services in your area, and is there a need for what you are offering.

If, after looking around and doing your market research thoroughly, you decide you want to start a business, then the next step is to create a business plan.  Don't be tempted to skip this stage.  It will focus your mind on exactly what needs doing and how you are going to tackle it.  Approaching Business Link at this stage may be helpful:

http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/home

They will be able to offer you free advice, and some offer courses for start-up businesses.  They will also advise you on registering with HMRC and tax issues.

Also take a look at the Prince's Trust.  I know a couple of people who, when they were younger, started out with grants from the trust and have had very successful businesses:

http://www.princes-trust.org.uk/


Having been self employed for the last 10 years or so (and my husband for 25) I can definitely say it is rewarding, exhausting, frustrating, and exciting.  The main problems I have had with regards to my disability is the fatigue.  You need to carefully consider your hours of business.  If you say you will be available on the phone from 9am to 2pm, then you have to be there, regardless of how crap you feel.  Customers do not like having to play phone tag and most want a query answered now, not tomorrow or whenever you feel up to it.  If they consistently get an answering service, then they will soon go elsewhere.  I have also found it hard to work to deadlines.  Most people want to know when they can expect you to complete the work, and you need to be realistic in your targets.  I have spent many weekends and late nights trying to ensure that work will be finished on time, and my social life has definitely taken a battering since becoming self employed.

If you will be working from home, try to set up your office space/desk away from  your main living areas.  Having a desk in your bedroom is a bad idea, as the work will be 'lurking' in the corner and always looking at you!  It's hard to put it out of your mind and relax with work piling up.  As we don't have very much space, I use a big old roll top desk, which I can close up when I've finished for the day, so I don't have to see what still needs doing.  It's psychological really, but seems to work for me.  It's important to try to separate work life from home life, and the distinction becomes blurred when you are self employed.

You also need to consider that you won't be getting any sick pay or holiday pay, so you need to factor this in when calculating your hourly rate.  You can get working tax credits if you're self employed and may be entitled to an enhanced premium if you receive DLA.

We are lucky if we get two weeks off a year.  Neither of us is really able to leave our businesses for longer than a week at a time, although we do try to take quite a few long weekends off to try to compensate.

Having said all this, my husband always says he would never go back to working for someone else.  On the other hand, I have just applied for a job!  Whether or not I get it, is another thing all together.  Whether or not I'll enjoy working for an employer again is anyone's guess!

Self employment is always worth considering if you have the skills to offer goods/services that others will purchase.  Just make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for.


feel free to PM me if you have any further questions.

Sofie

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2012, 06:20:56 PM »
Thanks. I know I will have to sit down and really think the business plan through. At the moment, it is just ideas.

devine63

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2012, 06:23:55 PM »
Sofie

being a needs assessor on a self employed basis is not as difficult as starting your own business - it is simply a way for you to work "for" at least two different needs assessment centres without being directly employed by them - it has advantages for them because they only have to pay you if there is work for you to do, if it's a quiet spell, they just tell you "sorry we have no work for you this week".    Typically assessment centres are busiest between Late August (after A level results and Clearing) until November, it is a bit quieter Dec -Jan, often picks up again in Feb March (after semester 1 exams) April to June can be quieter again as students are busy with their assignments and exams.   I think July and early AUgust were usually the quietest times of year - but it depends a bit on how many other assessors work for the centres and so on.

As I understand it the main rule is that to be considered self-employed you must work for at least two different organisations (probably 2 different Assessment Centres) as if you work for only one the Tax Office don't accept that as self employed.   Typically most assessment centres will work on this sort of basis:   each time you complete an assessment and associated report (or for each batch of assessments) you will send the assessment centre a time sheet or an invoice (or equivalent) and they will pay you for each assessment report completed.   Most centres will expect you to undertake the assessment at their centre or maybe at the student's college or University but you can then write up the report at home and email it to the centre for checking.

So you need an agreement with at least 2 assessment centre managers to provide you with some assessment work and I would suggest you ask about  whether they will train you and keep you up to date with continuing professional development activities during the year as well.     Ask whether you are expected to obtain and maintain your own kit [you need to be able to demo some specialist software for students so will need at least a laptop and some of the specialist assistive technology] or whether the centre can supply it.   If you have to buy it, keep the receipts as such business expenses can be claimed against tax.

Doing your own tax is not especially difficult, but most people seem to find it is worth having an accountant to help so you get their advice on what you can claim for - but to start with if you pay self employed national insurance stamp and put aside 30% of what you earn in a separate account you will have plenty to cover any tax bill at the end of the year.

That should get you started.... PM me if you have more questions,
regards, Deb


Sofie

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2012, 12:58:15 PM »
Thanks Debs. Working for more than one won't be a problem - local college offers HE, as does another college and we have the uni too.

Another option I have, is to help people who have recently lost their sight. So, not just DSA; but people who need that kind of advice. I know RNIB / Hearing and Sight centre have this type of volunteering.

ditchdwellers

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2012, 01:23:05 PM »
It would be a good idea to volunteer or shadow someone who is already doing the job to find out all the practicalities of the work.

Do you need any special training/qualifications/registration with professional body to do this sort of job?  Volunteering may well be a good way in.

devine63

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2012, 10:41:00 PM »
Hi

there are no formal qualifications for being a DSA Needs Assessor - though most people have relevant experience or qualifications in something like assistive technology, but this occupation has not professionalised yet, though the National Association of Disability Practitioners (www.nadp-uk.org) is working on an accreditation scheme for its members, which includes many assessors.   mOst assessment centres offer some kind of training, which usually involves some time shadowing an existing assessor, and most also have some sessions of training which are intended for continuing professional development.

regards, Deb

auntieCtheM

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2012, 11:00:55 PM »
Hi Sofie,

If you are thinking about offering yourself to an employer or becoming self-employed and offering yourself to a client, there is one first thing to work out: 

what problem do they have, and, what skills do you have to provide the solution to their problem.

Sofie

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 01:29:44 PM »
Thanks Auntie. I do have some of my own equipment (mobile phone with talking software, text-to-speech software and a piece of software that changes the background colour) so may not need to worry that much about needing equipment. I know that the Hearing and Sight centre have been able to hire some of the cheaper equipment.

hossylass

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 01:31:49 PM »
Adam Lotun does exactly this - do you want his details?

(Adam was the gentleman on Breakfast news and the protest on Saturday)

Sofie

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 01:36:43 PM »
Yes please Hossy. The name does sound familiar. Was he an ex-Oucher by any chance?

Defying Gravity

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 03:51:59 PM »
Hi Sofie

Good luck with this, I hope it works out for you. A thought just occurred to me when you said about the technology that you already have - do assessors 'specialise' or do they have to be able to assess anyone with any need? If it's anyone, then you might want to seriously consider trying to obtain some voluntary work or training first, as you might not be aware of the possibilities that are out there for someone with an impairment that is very different to yours.

hossylass

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2012, 04:07:49 PM »
Yeah he was - I'll give you his email by PM and then you can contact him and ask him any questions that you have.

Sofie

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 05:22:00 PM »
Hi Sofie

Good luck with this, I hope it works out for you. A thought just occurred to me when you said about the technology that you already have - do assessors 'specialise' or do they have to be able to assess anyone with any need? If it's anyone, then you might want to seriously consider trying to obtain some voluntary work or training first, as you might not be aware of the possibilities that are out there for someone with an impairment that is very different to yours.

I seem to remember that they do specialise. So, I would not see the same assessor as say, a wheelchair user. I also seem to remember that I was able to request that I see someone from RNIB instead of someone at uni.

Got your message, thank Hossy.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 05:23:37 PM by Sofie »

devine63

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Re: Self employment advice please
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2012, 12:20:08 AM »
Hi

some assessors are specialists (especially in VI or hearing impairment/ deafness) but many are generalists, the vast majority of assessments are for students with dyslexia and / or dyspraxia.
regards, Deb