Working for yourself can be a great way to tailor your work to your specific talents and interests. It can also be a great way to be able to set your own schedule and workplace expectations.
But, being self-employed can have challenges too. It’s best for people who are motivated and able to keep themselves on task. And, it can be less secure than working for an employer: you usually don’t have a guaranteed income, and don’t receive benefits such as paid time off, health insurance, or others.
“Gig” employment. You may have been hearing of and reading about the so-called gig economy with more and more frequency over the past few years. But there is no official definition of the “gig economy”—or, for that matter, a gig. The U.S. Department of Labor defines a gig as a single project or task for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand.
Some gigs are a type of short-term job, and some workers pursue gigs as a self-employment option; those concepts aren’t new. However, companies connecting workers with these jobs through websites or mobile applications (more commonly known as apps) is a more recent development. Learn more about working in a gig economy from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Freelance. Being a freelancer isn’t necessarily different than working in the gig economy. But the term is often used to apply to more skilled and long-term projects. Freelancing simply means you offer your unique skills or talent on a pay-for-service basis, outside of a regular employer-employee relationship. Common freelance options include:
- Web design
- Repair work (specializing in jewelry, furniture, vehicles, or other areas)
- Personal training/fitness coaching
Run your own business. Running your own business isn’t necessarily different from freelancing: some freelancers are running their own business, and even employing others to help them conduct their business. But here, we’re talking about running a business that has a physical location and/or employs others to make or sell goods or provide services. You might do this by starting your own business, buying a stand-alone existing business, or joining a franchise program. Learn more about planning, launching, managing, and growing your business from the Small Business Administration.