6 beefy bits of advice for the recently self-employed


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Through choice or by necessity, some of us are becoming self-employed for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence from multiple countries suggests that self-employed workers are one of the groups hardest hit by the pandemic. Support offered by governments varies.

Yet, for some, self-employment may represent the only way of earning a living and remaining active in the labor market. The self-employed are a diverse group that includes everyone from independent consultants, hairdressers and dog walkers, to executive producers and part-time delivery drivers.

What can those transitioning to self-employment do to protect their well-being? We’ve got six tips.

1. Protect boundaries

For self-employed people, boundaries can be blurry. This includes those between work and the rest of life, working for different clients, and working on personal business and on clients’ businesses. This can be caused by the income insecurity inherent in self-employed work, clients’ expectations for availability around the clock or renegotiation of agreed work, which creates complications in competing demands.

Long working hours and difficulty in disengaging from work contribute to potential conflicts between work and family and burnout. However, research suggests that learning to say no and protect boundaries creates room to rest and recharge. It helps with taking on new opportunities, improving performance (by focusing on only one task at a time), and having a life and identity outside of work.

There are several things that can be helpful: turning off wifi, deleting the email app from your phone, and scheduling all tasks – including family time and leisure – in addition to making an effort to be mindfully present with loved ones.

2. Learn

Self-employed people have more responsibilities and less support than employees. They are in charge of every aspect of their business, without access to admin and sales teams, databases, stationary and so on, which can be stressful. To manage this stress, self-employed people can learn the ins and outs of their business through enrolling in free online courses tailored to them, or using the knowledge of peers and mentors.