8 things the self-employed are tired of hearing

Whether you’re starting out or a seasoned pro, when you’re self-employed explaining yourself comes with the territory.

No matter what stage you’re at, there’s always those annoying comments you get from friends, family, clients and even strangers.

A lot of the time they mean well, but after a while it can really start to get on your nerves. Here are some of the worst.

1) “When are you going to get a proper job?”

This one’s inevitable when you first get going, especially if you’ve left your industry to strike out on your own.

But being self-employed is a real job. In fact, it’s more than a job, and can be much harder than being employed by someone else. Having to do everything yourself, particularly when you’re new to it, can really take a toll.

2) “Don’t you get lonely?”

Sometimes, yes, but the freedom that comes with being self-employed is also one of the benefits.

There are some great perks of working in an office, many of which are the buzz of being around other people. Whether it’s having someone to bounce ideas off or just having a chat over a cup of coffee, you can lose the social side of your job when you become self-employed.

But with the rise of communal office spaces like WeWork, you don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to be.

If you are in the early stages of self-employed life, or worried about current or potential difficulties, check out our article on the best resources for small businesses as a place to start.

3) “I wish I didn’t have to work full-time, either!”

Let’s say it one more time for the people at the back - being self-employed is a full-time job! In fact, most self-employed people will tell you that they work far more than eight hours a day.

Having to juggle the various aspects of working for yourself can really take it out of you, so take a look at our top tips for combatting workplace stress if you’re feeling the pressure.

4) “Why does this cost so much?”

Unfortunately, friends, family and acquaintances aren’t the only ones who might ask some of these questions. Sometimes you get one of those clients who just wants to pick your work apart.

And that’s the reason it’s ‘so expensive’ - it’s work. You put time and effort into your job - that’s why it’s a job - and that doesn’t even take into account the materials you might need, or the years spent training to do what you do.

Proceed with caution if a client asks this question more than once…

5) “Do you do mates’ rates?”

The dreaded mates’ rate.

It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re just starting out and trying to carefully manage your finances, friends will still want you to work for less - or even for free.

It can be difficult to put them straight - no one wants to fall out with friends or family - but you still need to make a living.

6) “Can you do this job today?”

Some clients are notorious for asking for last minute work. But even if you know who the repeat offenders are, you can still get blindsided when they throw a last minute job your way.

Then there are those who ask for work over the weekend - or worse, when you’ve already told them you’re on holiday.

Managing expectations is all part of being self-employed, and while it’s important to keep clients onside, it’s important to know when to say ‘no’.

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7) “Since you’re at home, could you look after my kids/dog/something else?”

Those of you who have a business premises are probably safe from this one, but for the work from home crowd, hearing this always give you that sinking feeling. Not only does the person asking you not realise that you really are working, even though you’re at home, but you run the risk of offending them by refusing.

If it’s a small favour, like signing for a parcel, there’s no harm in saying yes, but if it becomes too frequent, or the favours start to escalate, then it’s probably time to put your foot down.

8) “Okay, but what do you actually do?”

This one can go two ways. Either the person is trying to suggest you don’t have a “real” job, or they’re genuinely interested. While the former is worse, you still end up explaining yourself either way.

You’ve probably got the ‘elevator pitch’ of your business down to a fine art, but conversations like these can be a great opportunity to practice selling what you do as best you can. Who knows, you may even get a new customer out of it.

Looking for self-employed insurance?

With Simply Business you can build a single self employed insurance policy combining the covers that are relevant to you. Whether it’s public liability insurance, professional indemnity or whatever else you need, we’ll run you a quick quote online, and let you decide if we’re a good fit.

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