careers advice

Self Employment


Types of jobs in this sector:

Sole trader - Also known as a sole proprietor, this is the option to choose if you run your own business and you take all of the profits you make after you pay tax on them. Although the term sole trader infers that you will be working alone it doesn′t mean that you can′t employ people but rather you are solely responsible for the business. Therefore you are responsible for any losses you make, all of the record keeping of your sales and spending and paying the bills for anything you buy for the business e.g. stock.

Partnership - When a business is owned by two or more people who are all responsible for funding the investment and start-up of the company. They are also liable for any losses the company may make. All business profits can be shared by the partners and each partner pays tax and National Insurance on their share of the profit. A partner doesn′t necessarily have to be a person it can be a limited company which counts as a ′legal person′. The company must choose a nominated partner to take responsibility for the book keeping and tax returns.

Limited company - Legally, this form of business separates the organisation and the person or people running it. Any profits made are owned by the company after it pays Corporation Tax, and the company can share its profits. The organisation has members who own a share of the company. These shares can be sold to friends and family members. A member of a limited company is only responsible for up to the value of their investment in the business. This means that if the business runs up a lot of debt, the members aren′t liable to pay the sum of the debt, just for their share of the investment.

As well as the above legal forms, businesses can be set up based on different trading practices. For example:

Franchises - A franchisee will buy a license from an existing business which often means that you can use the existing business′ brand, image and business model. The franchiser gets an initial (and then ongoing) fee for the franchise to use its product or service. The business is owned and operated by the franchisee but the franchiser has control over the marketing and way that the product or service is sold. Examples of current franchises include: McDonalds, Subway, some letting agents, automotive services and many more.

Cooperatives - Businesses owned and run by people with the same ethos and goals.

Social enterprises - Businesses which help people, communities or charity-based organisations. Choosing this option you could run as a Community Interest Company, which is a limited company that has a community interest statement and an asset lock which is a legal promise to use the company assets for its social objectives and only give so much money to its shareholders. Universities have started to place more emphasis on educating students about social enterprises and cooperatives.

Freelance or consultancies - You may wish to work as a freelancer or on a consultancy basis if you have skills, knowledge or a service which can be hired by companies. Commonly, this involves working from home or travelling to the different companies that hire you.

Reference: Prospects  

Benefits/Challenges of self-employment


  • You can create your own business network and no one is there to give orders. 
  • You will be able to give more time to your family if the business is successful. 
  • You fix your hours of work and do not have to work eight hours a day. 
  • You take the initiatives and develop your projects and ideas to suit your purpose. 
  • If the business is going well and the profits are high you do not have to distribute them between others. 
  • If you are a freelance self-employed person, you can work from home at your continence which will save you money on transportation. 
  • With your success comes social prestige, professional recognition and personal satisfaction. 


  • All the investments are yours as an entrepreneur and so are the risks if the business failed. 
  • If you did not join any group of self-employed people you might feel lonely not knowing which way to go. 
  • You will do all the advertising, learning and creating new relationship all on your own. 
  • As a self-employed professional, you have to keep track of your time. 
  • At the initial stage of your business career you might have to work more hours which can have negative impact on your family life and personal health. 
  • You will be responsible for your personal insurance, business insurance and your personal income tax.


Advise on how to be self employment in Nigeria

1.Create a Sellable Business Idea - This is where it starts, being self employed simply means you have a business that you will start, run and make successful. So, you need to think of what product you want to sell, or what service you want to provide. Make sure that it is something you know you would enjoy doing. This is because you would be spending your time, money, energy and other resources. You won’t to waste your precious time, money, energy and other resources on what you don’t enjoy doing.

2. Get a Partner or Partners - After you have developed one or two sellable business ideas, you need to look for a partner. It must be someone who believes in your business plan. Someone who is keen on working together with you. A good partner would contribute more ideas to your plan, and immediately you can see how things are really going to work out now.

3. Register for a Business License - This does not have to necessarily follow after you get a partner but it is a must you register your business for an operational license. This you can get from the Corporate Affairs Commission. They are a body setup for the purpose of granting business the opportunity to be registered.

4. Source for Funding or Bootstrap -  After you have critically fine-tuned your business idea and business plan, the next thing to do is to source for funds or bootstrap. The source of fund can be from you or your partner’s savings or your family’s contributions. You would need to get as much money as you could and keep it only for the business. And incase where the source of funding are not coming with respect to your schedule, you should bootstrap while waiting for funding.

You would need to learn some basic accounting and also have financial management skill. This is because, as you get income from fundings, donations, business sales or you start expending funds on business tools, you will need to record them accordingly.

5.Get Modal - Find out where you can get the business items you need at good quality and at a low costs. Rent an office (if necessary) in a location that is good for your business or you can start your business from your home or your garage, either to store the items, to sell them, or to provides services. Afterall, most great companies we know of today started in someone garage.

6. Promote/Advertise/Market - Now that you’re ready to work, spread the words about you and your business. You can distribute flyers, sticking up posters, create a website, a blog, social media profiles and pages, place adverts offline and online etc. Just do anything good to promote and drive traffic to your business location (online and offline). Just let your business be known by as many people as possible.

7. Treat customers Right… Always - When you get your first customer, you would be excited. Let the first few ones be your ‘trial and error’. You won’t know how to make things work well unless you’ve got some experience. It’s ok to go slow and steady.

Do everything possible to stay within the concept of your business. Be professional in handling customers. Meet their needs and give them the opportunity to do more business with you. Keep to time. Be honest and full of integrity…

8. Earn money - Be patient about your income, in the first few weeks or months, it’s expected to be low. You have to keep believing in it and work harder. Big money doesn’t come easy. Be willing to sacrifice long hours of work. And as the time goes by with serious dedication, commitment, development etc from you, you would go a long way in earning more and more income. This comes with increase in the number of customers you serve.

In conclusion, you will need to see yourself as a business man. One person cannot build a successful business. You will need to put it at the back of your mind that one day, you will start hiring. But before that, I need you to know that you will be working as the CEO, the manager, the accountant, the cleaner, the security officer, the secretary etc in the first few months/years of starting as self employed. In short, you have to be a leader

This is to let you know that you need to develop yourself in every aspect of business. Read business books. Attend business seminars online and offline. Participate in business meetings. In everything you do. make sure you are developing yourself and your business everyday.

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