FACT: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking for a job when you’re self-employed. It’s not a failure, it’s not giving up, it’s not shameful.
The number one reason that people give when moving into self-employment is control - having more control over their professional lives. A desire for control is not just about managing your own diary, or being able to say what work you want to do, or turning down clients that aren’t aligned with your goals. The human need is being able to make decisions, rather than having situations forced upon you.
During periods of uncertainty and turmoil - as 2020, 2021 and 2022 have seemingly had in common, and as we step into 2023 with yet more unknowns over the horizon, wanting to take back more control over your professional life, and making a decision to seek security, stability, regularity of income, is equally about taking back control.
In a recent conversation with Matt Phelan of The Happiness Index, we spoke at length about the importance of autonomy - not only in work, but as a fundamental human need. His findings demonstrate that when you give individuals more control over their work, things improve. Self-employment is inherently full of situations where we arguably have less feelings of control - over new business, over how clients perceive our work, over the economy, over the regularity of our income, over our boundaries and workload. Sometimes it can feel like things run away from us. A desire to find some structure and stability in those moments is simply human.
And you’re not alone in thinking about it - 55% of the self-employed considered leaving self-employment during 2022. That’s a majority of people.
For me, the future of work isn’t freelance, it’s fluid. A model where we are less worried about whether you’re ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’, but rather we have the flexibility to choose different types of engagements with employers. Some might be long-term (similar to a job), some might be just a few days here and there, some might be juggling multiple projects at once. And after a year of working in one way, your circumstances or needs might have changed, and you might have a new set of ways of working.
A world of employment where we have control not only over the work we do, but the way in which we want to work - is far more supportive and sustainable. Not everyone wants a job for life, not everyone wants to freelance forever - but being able to decide to work in a way that suits our needs and motivations for that moment, that’s control.
I know there are a few of us in the community who frequently have moments of existential crisis: is self-employment right for me? Well, this message is to you: listen to what you need right now, and no matter what route you take, it’s not a failure - it’s simply another step forward in the way you’re currently working. Leapers was originally intended for “anyone who is actively taking control over how they work”, whether that was in to self-employment, remote, flex, job-share, or whatever structure you wanted to design. Whilst our focus has fallen on self-employment in the more recent years, that intention of supporting anyone who wants to ‘take control’ has never been more true. We’re here, no matter where you go next.