Freelancing’s best part? The self-employed are unanimous

3 min
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Before the challenges of 2020 dominate -- notably Brexit and IR35 reform, FreelanceUK asked freelance creatives what they will try to keep in mind as the walls close in.

We spoke with freelance marketing, digital and communications consultant Benedict Smith, public affairs and campaigning specialist Greg Mulholland, and former freelancer turned freelancer accounting aficionado Ed Molyneux.

All three described the best part of freelancing in various ways, and shared various upsides. But there was a single unifying factor that the trio was almost always referring to: autonomy.

'Being your own boss'

Perhaps Molyneux sums it up best. “There’s nothing else quite like being your own boss and having sole control over what you do and where you want your business to go,” he says.

“So for me, the best thing about freelancing is that I got to work for myself. It can be a bit scary at times, but it’s also exhilarating to stand and fall on your own two feet, without having to answer to anyone else.”

The only exception, chimes in Smith, is those who keep freelancers in business. “Every freelancer is answerable to their clients,” says the 30-year-old, the director of Levo London.

“I’m lucky in that mine are genuinely nice people which makes a massive difference.”

'Freedom to choose the where, when and who'

Aside from the ‘customer is king’ consideration, Smith sees it much like Molyneux does.

“The freedom to work from where I want, with whom I want and, to an extent, when I want, is the best part of being a self-employed freelancer,” he says.

Asked for an example of him exploiting the freedom that freelancing allows, the consultant implied he could recite quite a few. And that’s partly because it’s not just him who makes them happen.

“My wife is also freelance, so we’ll jump in the car or on a cheap flight and work from somewhere totally different for a few days.

“We spent a week or so in Barcelona last month”, Smith says, contentedly. “[Just] having the flexibility to work remotely [in such a great location] and it not impact my work whatsoever was brilliant.”

'Independently delivering'

Mulholland also cherishes the autonomy self-employment allows. But he comes across as more of a lone wolf – sniffing out the client brief as the leader of his own commercial pack.

“The best part of freelancing is independently delivering great work for clients -- work that your own skills and experience can deliver, [single-handedly] working with them to get great outcomes.”

Even the route to those outcomes is down to him, and the former Liberal Democrat MP likes that nobody is looking over his shoulder about how he achieves them -- in terms of the ‘where’ and the ‘when.’

“I also enjoy the flexibility that can come with freelancing. So I don’t mind working at some strange and unsocial hours,” Mulholland says. “As long as I have flexibility, meaning I can work from home or remotely.”

'Moulding your life with your freelance commitments'

Smith echoed: “I never worry too much about where I work from. Although when it’s a very nice location, it would be nice to down tools completely.”

According to Molyneux, the CEO of cloud accountant FreeAgent, not taking advantage of freelancing’s flexibility almost defeats the point of becoming self-employed.

“[The trick is to] mould your working life to fit in with your other commitments, allowing you to work where and when you want, and with clients you enjoy working with,” he says. “This flexibility is freelancing’s other important benefit, so use it.”

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