Women going solo for better work/life balance?

Friday 11 March 2016

When it comes to starting your own business, going solo as a freelancer, contractor or consultant, many people assume it will be a scary journey. It seems like there would be a lot of stress and worry without the support network that working for a company provides. However, new research has found that this is not necessarily the case.

Crunch Accounting undertook a survey of 750 freelancers and small/micro­business owners across the UK, specifically looking at female sole traders in celebration of International Women's Day. They found that far from being more stressed, women are actually benefiting from the improved work/life balance that being your own boss can bring.

Over half of the female participants (51 per cent) said that moving from a standard nine-to-five job into freelancing, consulting or contracting had left them feeling moderately or significantly less stressed. Only 21 per cent said becoming self-employed had caused them more stress.

For men, the figures are slightly different, with 40 per cent finding they were less stressed and 31 per cent feeling more anxious as a result of self-employment. Perhaps this is the reason why the number of women starting their own business has grown 42 per cent since 2010.

Furthermore, only 12 per cent of women and six per cent of men said they struggled with the isolation involved with working alone. People who go down the route of self-employment tend to make contacts fairly quickly, and often find they are more productive as a result of being on their own, making them feel happier at work.

If you are feeling stressed as a result of becoming self-employed, there are a number of ways you can relax. It is here that women have the edge on men as well, with more female freelancers utilising healthy methods of de-stressing than their male counterparts, who are more prone to unhealthy behaviour.

Men are more likely to both drink and smoke to de-stress, while women prefer activities such as reading and socialising. A large portion of both groups - 41 per cent of men and 43 per cent of women - said they turned to exercise to relax. However, the most popular way to unwind is watching TV, which was enjoyed by 50 per cent of men and 64 per cent of women.
With a third of new businesses started by women, it seems that more and more female freelancers are coming out of the woodwork and trying self-employment. This can only be a good thing for equality, while it also brings valuable skills to the industries these women are joining that might not have been present otherwise.

By Victoria McDonnell

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