Change to a New Way of Working

Written by Bob Howard-Spink

Never a better time to work for yourself!

What?  Surely that can’t be true.  What with all the economic gloom and uncertainty surrounding us.  With unemployment rising, banks not lending money, high street retailers closing down – could now really be a good time to cut loose and work for yourself?

Work that is good for us all

Well maybe doing it for the greater good is reason enough because (with apologies for my fag packet dissertation on the economy and society) I do think we would all benefit if more of us raised our level of enterprise and self-reliance

The “right to work” philosophy I learnt about at school seems to have changed from its original Article 23 interpretation. These days the right is more of an expectation that work will be provided by somebody or other, and if it’s not then compensation should be given. And that’s without getting at those who would interpret it as “the right to work if I choose to!”

Anyway, the point is that we can’t all expect to be given jobs or claim benefit as an alternative – we have to create our own jobs. As the man said nothing happens until somebody sells something, and that could be your own talents

Work that is good for business

When during an economic downturn firms shed jobs because of the need to cut costs the purpose for those jobs usually doesn’t disappear
Those businesses have to remain viable and be ready to compete for the first opportunities arising out of recovery. They still need the skills and capabilities but the nature of the need is different now:
  • It’s at a lower level of demand
  • It’s a requirement that is regular but intermittent
  • It’s for a short term period of time
  • It’s for a more flexible mix of skills
  • It’s for all the reasons that businesses have previously outsourced work during delayering, downsizing, re-engineering and so on that see them turning to non-payroll people

Also, apart from providing flexible on-demand cover the “outsourcee” is often appreciated for the fresh thinking and results orientated attitudes they bring to the business

Work that is good for you

If the timing is good for business then of course this translates into an opportunity for you, especially if it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a while
You’ve probably worked out why you want the change:
  • Frustrated by hierarchical structures and procedures
  • Wanting to adjust your work – life balance
  • Needing variety and fresh challenges

Perhaps the only thing holding you back so far has been the natural concern about insecurity versus the relative safety of employment. So with that advantage being currently less distinct maybe another reason why now is the right time to believe in yourself and take that leap of faith.

What are some of the options?
Making the leap can be a lot less risky or unsupported than you think:
  • Become a Contractor  You may like the idea of working for your old employers or their competitors on a freelance basis? It’s certainly a good first step to take and you can secure a bigger slice of your gross pay. However working for one company can amount to employment which is why HMRC introduced IR35 to provide guidelines and prevent avoidance of  PAYE and National Insurance contributions

Accountancy firms offer specialist advice on how to manage your tax arrangements and you can also engage with an Umbrella company to handle tax and NI for you. I came across this not for profit organisation  PCG who give free advice and a full range of support services for Contractors and freelancers

  • Interim Management This option again sees you working for one company on a short-term contract. Typically these appointments are made when the business is undergoing some change or has a senior executive role temporarily vacant. You can choose the Umbrella Company route where effectively you are working for an agency or you can set up your own PAYE and NI arrangements with the employing company

Marketing yourself can be made easy by signing on with good Interim Management Agencies who can provide you with a flow of assignments.  Two very useful sources of information and support are the Interim Hub   and the Institute of Interim Management.

  • Self-employed Consultant/  Sole trader This continues to be the most popular step into self-employment.  You have marketable know-how as a management trainer, internet marketeer, employment lawyer, accountant etc. With minimal start up costs to cover the essentials of a computer, website, business stationery, and membership of useful business networking groups –  and the time and energy to get to those breakfast meetings – you can quickly be up and running.
    You could end up as an external consultant to a wide client base or be developing a portfolio of 3 or 4 companies with 1 or 2 days a week of contracted work
Choosing the option that is right for you obviously comes down to what you’re looking for. Some provide freedom with a bit of security. Some better meet the flexibility and work-life balance need. Some are closer to the being my own boss aim
It’s worth adding the cautionary note that some people opt for self-employment as an alternative to employment.  It isn’t a way to dodge getting up early every morning!  Or, to avoid being managed
To succeed you’ll probably be the toughest manager you’ve ever had, working harder and doing things that are foreign to you like networking, selling your services, even handling rejection
But that’s not so hard is it?
And it’s a lot better than working for somebody else!
Bob Howard-Spink is a supplier of positive attitudes. He runs OnWeGo; a website for people who think they've done as much as they ever will in life and work. Bob supplies inspiration and ideas on work, health and play. He is an advocate for making the rest of your life, the best of your life!
© 2012 Churchill Brook International
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