Thinking about turning your side hustle into your full-time job? As a part of Sharon Schweitzer’s preparation for participation for QuickBooks Connect 2017, we at Access to Culture conducted a poll via Twitter and Facebook for three weeks. We received responses from 32 self-employed professionals from North America, Asia, and Australia in search of the most pressing rewards and challenges that small business owners and independent contractors are facing right now. After analyzing our results, we’ve listed below the five crucial considerations for anyone thinking about self employment.

  1. Work-Life Balance A plurality of respondents (37.5%) agreed that the number one challenge for self employment is work-life balance. Small business owners and independent contractors usually feel personally responsible for their business, and their private lives may suffer. Ask yourself, What are my priorities? Before diving head-first into a career of self employment, consider what gives you the most fulfillment in your life. If your priorities are mostly professional or career-related, this lifestyle may suit you.
  2. Financial Considerations When asked what the primary financial challenges are for self employed professionals, 78 percent of respondents said saving for retirement, and 71% said lack of benefits. Be sure to thoroughly research retirement plans and healthcare options for self employed professionals. When these responsibilities fall in your own hands, they can be much more expensive and trickier to manage. 
  3. Legal Fees Roughly 53% of respondents agreed that both personal liability for business debt as a sole proprietor and buying professional liability insurance were the most significant legal challenges to self employment. Remember that sole proprietors are held personally responsible if their company goes in debt. Depending on the policy, liability insurance may protect the  company assets and help cover worker’s compensation and legal defense if the company faces litigation. There are different variations of liability insurance at different costs, and the U.S. Small Business Administration land the offers advice on types of insurance coverage.
  4. Delegation If you start your own company, you’re likely to want control over most aspects of the company. It’s your brainchild, and you want to keep your goals and mission in line. As Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford University Professor of Organizational Behavior says, “your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions.” Almost 40% of our survey respondents said they hire an accountant to help manage finances, but delegation goes beyond accounting. If you’re starting a small business, be prepared to hire trustworthy people for confidential documents and train them to handle projects independently.
  5. It’s Risky, but Worth It. If you take the right steps and caution yourself to avoid the common mistakes made by self-employed professionals, starting your own business may be your best career move. Eighty-four percent of our respondents recommend being self-employed.The most popular responses for the benefits of self employment were being your own boss, having flexible hours, and building a personal success story.

With the new year around the corner, professionals have change on their mind. If you’re seriously considering self employment in 2018, be sure to stay informed, smart, and ahead of the game. We highly recommend registering QuickBooks Connect 2018, a dynamic event where self-starters can grow and network, once registration opens.

Sharon Schweitzer and Emilie Lostracco co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary seriesConfucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide (3rd printing), was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Emilie Lostracco is a Fall 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication Intern with Access to Culture. The Montreal native is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, studying International Relations and Global Studies. Emilie specializes in international environmental efforts, European studies, and French. She plans on graduating with honors in December. Connect with her via Linkedin.