Self-Employment: Your Next Career Move?

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Whether you’ve lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic or are simply ready for a change, you may be feeling nervous about entering the job market right now. After record losses in early 2020, the job market is recovering slowly and the country remains down millions of jobs.

If job hunting isn’t panning out, there may be another option: self-employment. Whether launching a company or freelancing from home, self-employment offers a path forward when every resumé seems like a dead end. However, it’s not as simple as coming up with a business idea and a logo. Here’s what you need to know before pivoting your career to self-employment.

What counts as self-employment?

“Self-employment” is a broad term that covers a wide range of work. If you’re struggling to find a job, these self-employment options let you create opportunity for yourself.

  • Freelancing is one of the easiest ways to get started in self-employment. Freelance platforms let professionals quickly create a profile and start marketing their skills and bidding on jobs.
  • Gig workers are also self-employed. While not all gigs pay well, there are some gig economy jobs that can replace a full-time salary.
  • If you want to build something bigger, consider starting a business of your own. E-commerce, consulting, and service-based businesses like translating, tutoring, and dog walking are affordable businesses you can start quickly.

Essential skills for self-employed workers

No matter what type of self-employment you pursue, there are certain things you need to know as a self-employed professional. These are the skills and responsibilities that every self-employed worker should learn.

  • Self-employed people are responsible for paying their own employment taxes, including self-employment tax. Estimated tax payments are due on a quarterly basis.
  • Deductions save money on business taxes, but you can’t deduct an expense if you didn’t record it. Every self-employed person should have basic bookkeeping skills as well as an accountant on dial.
  • Self-employed professionals also need to market their services. Luckily, marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective.

What veterans should know about self-employment

Self-employment is especially well-suited to veterans. Not only does working for yourself give disabled veterans the flexibility and accessibility they need, but there are a number of programs to support veterans in starting their own business.

  • The SBA offers a wide range of resources to veteran entrepreneurs. These include entrepreneurship training programs, funding for veteran-owned small businesses, and set-aside contracts for veteran-owned businesses.
  • Veteran business owners also have access to exclusive business grants and loans. These include programs for honorably discharged veterans, service-disabled veterans, and the spouses of active duty service members and veterans.
  • Disabled veterans who want to work from home can apply for Specially Adapted Housing and Special Home Adaptation grants from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These grants provide funds for service-disabled veterans to buy, build, or adapt a home for accessibility.
  • If you’re a wounded veteran who’s looking for additional resources, please get in touch with Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors.

What comes after self-employment?

After building business skills working for yourself, you may find yourself asking, “What’s next?” There’s no single path forward for entrepreneurs, but if you’re ready to take your career to the next level, consider one of these steps.

  • Hiring your first employees lets you scale your business, but it’s not a decision to take lightly. Be sure you understand the legal side of hiring and compensation before transitioning from self-employed to employer.
  • A master in business administration can turn your entrepreneurial experience into a lucrative corporate position. Or, pursue another degree and pivot your career to something new. No matter what you study, whether it’s something related to business or IT, doing it online makes it easy to fit education into your busy schedule.
  • Enjoying self-employment? Continue growing your skills through podcasts that boost your resume and grow your earning potential.

For some people, self-employment is a stopgap solution while they look for work. For others, it’s the career change they’ve been looking for! No matter what brings you to self-employment, take advantage of resources like these so you can keep your career moving forward no matter what life throws your way.

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