Being self-employed/starting your own business

You don’t have to have a job and work for an employer; you can work for yourself. If you are self-employed, you can set your own working hours and situation. For example, you might choose to work from home rather than working in an office. You get to choose what kind of work you do and how much work you take on.

However, being self-employed comes with its own set of responsibilities. You will need to find your own clients and make sure the work is done on time and to a good standard. You will also need to ensure that you pay the right amount of tax on what you earn. Self-employed people are usually very good at organising their time!

There are lots of different ways that you can work for yourself. Having a qualification in a particular skill, for example hairdressing or IT, could help you become self-employed in that line of work.

You can also think about your skills and the things you like to do. Are you good with animals? People sometimes pay for services such as pet sitting or dog walking. If you enjoy crafts such as knitting or painting, you could sell the things you make online or through independent shops, or set up a market stall.

For more information on becoming self-employed, visit the Citizens Advice website.

For detailed help with self-employment finances, visit the Money Advice Service.

After taking some time to think about her future, Miffy started up her own business in network marketing and distributing phone contracts. Having her own business has helped Miffy develop loads of new skills, like planning and running events, training staff and working with the public. She loves working with other people, and being able to manage her own working hours.

Support to set up your own business

If you are interested in setting up your own business you can get support to help you.

New Enterprise Allowance

The New Enterprise Allowance provides a business mentor to give advice and support on becoming self-employed, setting up in business and starting to trade. Once a business plan has been made and approved, financial support is available. This consists of a weekly allowance worth up to £1,274 up to 26 weeks and, if needed, start-up capital from an unsecured loan through the DWP start-up loan scheme.

You can apply for the New Enterprise Allowance if you can show that you have a business idea that could work and you are claiming:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance (or your partner is), or
  • Income Support as sick or a lone parent.

You might also be eligible if you're claiming Universal Credit, but you won’t qualify if you’re part of the Work Programme.

For more information go to GOV.UK.

The Prince’s Trust: Enterprise Programme

This is a UK wide programme for those who have a business idea they want to explore. It consists of a four-day interactive workshop, where you will meet other like-minded people and have the chance to tap into a business expert, covering business planning and marketing to sales and tax. There will be support to build your business, helping to plan and test ideas and an opportunity to apply for funding. When you’ve launched business, you’ll have access to a business mentor for up to two years.

To be eligible for the programme you need to be between 18 and 30 years old, and unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a week.

For more information, visit the Prince's Trust website.

Careers advice

Deciding what career or job you want to do can be difficult, but there are lots of organisations and people who can help you with your decisions.

Looking for work

This section gives lots of hints and tips about how to find and apply for jobs. It also tells you where you can get help with job search and applications.

Work experience

Work experience can help you decide what sort of job you may like, develop your skills and confidence, and give you something to put on your CV.


You don’t have to have a job and work for an employer - you could set up your own business and work for yourself.

Financial help

There is lots of financial support available to help you look for work, once you find a job and if you want to do some training.

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