Survey reveals motivations of freelancers

Friday 28 August 2015

A survey conducted by the freelancer marketplace PeoplePerHour has revealed contractors’ top reasons for choosing to work for themselves, highlighting the many benefits of this way of working to those who are considering making the switch.

The benefits of working for yourself are well-known, but it was interesting to see how the respondents prioritised all the different positive factors.

The survey found that the most popular reason for becoming self-employed was a greater amount of independence (21.7 per cent of the respondents), followed by a desire for new challenges and job opportunities and enjoyment (20.3 per cent), the option of working from home (13.2 per cent), the ability to work flexibly (12 per cent), and an improvement in the balance between work and family commitments (10.7 per cent). Only a very small number (1.2 per cent) said that contracting was necessary due to the nature of their work.

In news that will be no surprise to contractors with families, the potential for more flexible childcare arrangements was also a major factor, with 26.3 per cent saying that it had affected their decision to pursue self-employment.

Despite covering 20 different sectors, the most popular careers for self-employed people were media and the creative industries (32.4 per cent), following by mathematical or IT professionals (25 per cent). Other sectors covered in the survey included management (4.8 per cent), social sciences (1.7 per cent) and education (4.3 per cent).

It was found that contracting was most popular among highly qualified professionals, as over 75 per cent of those surveyed had at least one degree. In contrast, only 2.3 per cent reported having no qualifications whatsoever.

It seems that most freelancers are coming into the working method with a good awareness about what it entails, and this may be why only 7.4 per cent felt that their solitary way of working was a drawback.

Of course, any way of working has its downsides, and one of the most commonly reported ones for freelancers is cashflow problems and income fluctuation, with over half (51.5 per cent) saying that this was a worry for them. In addition to this, 19 per cent agreed that filing their own taxes and managing their financial affairs was a stressful burden.

Finances were also likely to be a concern when looking to the future. Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed said that they did not have a savings plan for their retirement. This figure, along with the number of freelancers who struggle with tax, shows the importance of specialist contractor accountants to those who choose to go it alone, as they can offer assistance and practical advice.

Overall, the survey draws a picture of largely contented, highly qualified professionals who have realised that they can get more out of their work by becoming contractors, but who are still in need of high-quality financial advice from an accountant that understands the nuances of freelancing.

By Victoria McDonnell

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