Thinking of going it alone? If you are, then you’ll be in good company. There are currently around 1.6 million self-employed professionals in the UK, many of whom are accountants and general business advisers.
The advent of new, web-based and mobile technology has made it significantly easier to go freelance – it is easy to communicate with clients and, more importantly, it is easy for them to talk to you.
But if you are serious about setting up on your own, you will need some serious help – and as self-employed professionals are among the most IT literate sections of the working population, one would hope they would start their hunt for advice on the web.
One of the first problems encountered is that there is plenty of information for small businesses and start-ups, but not a vast amount for the individual.
But if you think of yourself as a very small business, then the advice available can usually be applied to the individual.
The government’s small business service provides start-up information on the web through www.businessadviceonline.org.
This can take you to local Business Links organisations, but also has plenty of information on starting up on your own.
Most of the information is aimed at someone whose new business would employ other people, but the site is easy to search for self-employed guides.
Clearly laid out and easy to get around, the site also has good links to other government information.
www.startups.co.uk is backed by Starting Your Own Business magazine, and as such, benefits from a publisher’s eye for design.
There is plenty of practical advice available here, all of which is written in a simple, no-nonsense style. It sets out in plain English what it takes to be a trader starting out on your own, and details many of the perils and pitfalls that await the budding entrepreneur.
You can assess your suitability, get help with business plans and look at the ‘boring essentials’. There is a commercial element to the site, though it is not overt.
This cannot be said for virgin.com’s business advice site, www.virginbiz.net. As you would expect from the king of the entrepreneurs, Richard Branson’s small business advice site is packed with offers and free trials, but also adds value through the information it provides.
There is the usual help on starting up plus a few smart touches such as an online diary from a writer who has recently decided to go freelance.
The site map makes navigation incredibly easy and you are only a couple of clicks away from relevant, useful guides.
Alodis is an organisation recently set up to deal specifically with self-employed professionals.
Its website, www.alodis.com, provides an excellent guide to starting out on your own, and you also have the opportunity to join its network of similar minded professionals.
Clear and concise, the information on the website makes essential reading for anyone thinking about going it alone.
OUR TOP FIVE SITES
Just about the only website dedicated to self-employed professionals, Alodis has spent time and effort to get it right.
Backed by the Small Business Service, it is aimed at the SME market but still provides helpful information for the self-employed.
Again aimed at SMEs, this site benefits from a clear and easy design, combining news and practical advice.
Overtly commercial, but still maintains a practical, advice-driven stance, backed by the Virgin empire.
Get Hector’s tax advice on the implications of going self-employed. Surprisingly helpful for a government website.
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