Sole traders and limited companies, protect your work/life balance

Thursday 4 September 2014

One of the benefits of becoming a sole trader or limited company is the flexibility it offers. As your own boss you can essentially plan your working life around your own commitments and interests. However, new research suggests some professionals may not be making the most of these opportunities.

A study conducted by YouGov, on behalf of First Data Merchant Solutions, found that 44 per cent of start-up owners have had to miss a personal occasion because they are too busy running the company. So extreme is this commitment to work that one in ten have even failed to attend their own birthday celebration.

According to the research, 17 per cent of small business decision makers have failed to pick their children up from school, while 11 per cent have missed an anniversary.

Administration accounts for a large part of the problem, and 22 per cent claim they spend more than ten hours a day on average 'behind the scenes'.

In order to restore the work/life balance that attracts many to self-employment, sole traders and limited company contractors can look to outsource some of the complicated, time consuming activities.

Accountancy services can take away some of the administrative burden, while ensuring compliance with HM Revenue and Customs. Indeed, 25 per cent of small businesses admit to finding accounting and tracking finances challenges, according to the research.

Finding solutions that improve work/life balance is important in order to reap the benefits of being self-employed, of which there are many.

Now is a great time to go it alone, too, with the SME Finance Monitor from BDRC Continental recently revealing that more than three-quarters of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are becoming profitable.

During the second quarter of the year, 76 per cent of SMEs said they were profitable, up seven percentage points from the previous quarter.

It's not surprising that choosing to work in this way is becoming more popular. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that self-employment is now at the highest level in 40 years.

In 2014, 15 per cent of the 4.6 million people in employment are classed as their own boss. The last time numbers like this were seen was 1971.

According to ONS, the latest figures represent a two percentage point increase from 2008 when 13 per cent of all those employed were noted as being self-employed.

Speaking in August, Andrew Fahey, commercial director at Brookson, said: "Choosing to become self-employed can be rewarding as you have greater freedom to choose your assignments and when you work. Yet it can be tricky for those who are just starting out, with a range of commercial, legal and financial considerations to master, we always recommend seeking expert advice and possibly hiring a contractor accountant to manage your finances for you."

By Victoria McDonnell

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