Is self-employment falling out of favour?

I’ve been self employed for over 10 years.  When I first started working for myself I was worried about whether or not I would enjoy it.  I was always the kind of person that liked to be surrounded by others at work, for conversation, inspiration and the social side of things.  But sometimes other decisions are more important (young children etc) and so I embarked upon my life as a sole trader.

Mostly I’ve really enjoyed it.  Of course twitter and social networks have made life as a self-employed person so much easier than it used to be.  And the benefits of working for yourself are obvious: flexibility, control, variety.

Recently however I’ve noticed that a quite a few people who have been self-employed for years, have taken positions in companies or agencies.  Stephen Davies, Jonathan Hopkins, Brendan Cooper, all extremely experienced and respected in the industry.  Not sure that you could classify it as a trend as yet but it got me thinking about why it might be.

There are, of course, downsides to working for yourself, at times it can be isolating, there is the feast or famine syndrome which, if you’re not careful, can result in you stretching yourself too thinly and heaping pressure on yourself, and as an ‘outsider’ to a client organisation, it can be difficult to really affect change.

Over the years I’ve been offered a few positions, most of them not really of interest but a couple of them more recently did give me pause for thought as to whether it was worth giving up the benefits of self-employment.  The answer was no, but I admit I was tempted.  I also have the added issue of being a shareholder and director in a business, Pyjama Drama, so it’s not really on the cards for me to ever go back to being an employee (although hopefully I’m not tempting fate with that comment).

But I’d be interested in what others think.  We’re constantly hearing about the move to a more flexible workforce and less of the traditional 9-5 work pattern but I wonder, in the digital industries at least, if the demand for really experienced and skilled individuals and the lure of roles that offer real scope to make a mark, is starting to pull people back into employment?

* You can read the full Storify of the conversation on twitter here. (I haven’t got around to updated WP yet so can’t embed it)

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2 Responses to “Is self-employment falling out of favour?”

  1. Katie,

    interesting post

    Working for yourself requires discipline, developing more skills and your own vision and dare I say it: brand

    It has its advantages, chiefly being able to put your ideas into action, flexibility and aiming for the type of clients you want, but there is a certain amount of isolation

    Both salaried employment and independent working even themselves out in terms of which is best

    It would be good to get some more feedback


  2. Brendan says:

    Hi Katie,

    Nice post – definitely a case of noticing these trends when three ‘things’ come along at once (that’s me classing myself as a ‘thing’ I guess…!)

    It seems that quite a few of the social media/digital people who were sole traders have been snapped up by agencies, or set themselves up as full digital operations.

    I found that the digital landgrab had happened, and that people who were my clients had become my competitors!

    So I either had to push forward and expand, as social media requirements grow to encompass design and programming skills; return to agency land; or do something completely different instead.

    Fortunately (for me) something completely different came around, which seems to suit me perfectly (ie Adfonic), and I gather the same happened with Jonathan at Nandos. So I guess it’s a case of luck – or perhaps chance favours the prepared mind…?

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