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Could going self-employed be your answer to finding the right work-life balance?

Guest post by Rhian Harris When kids come along, for the majority of parents, the priorities change. Perhaps a once career-focused Mum opts to spend more time at home with the kids. Maybe Dad, who previously enjoyed travel with his job now keeps business trips to a minimum. Or possibly, an ‘old’ job simply doesn’t work around new commitments. It’s a dilemma facing all parents;  how best to balance work and family? If this sounds familiar, the idea of quitting your job may seem like the only option. The frightening thought though is losing your income. So what’s the answer?  Whilst risky, and certainly not the ‘easy’ choice, self-employment is an often overlooked as a solution. Lots of professions lend themselves to becoming your own boss however. You could go freelance or mobile with your current job e.g. mobile hairdressing, bookkeeping or marketing consultancy. Franchising is another  way of buying into an established idea with the support of the overall brand, such as starting up a new baby class. Platforms like Etsy offer a place to sell handmade goods that could be run alongside building up local custom. Babysitting or childminding might fit best around your family, providing you are able to obtain the relevant qualifications. You could even go down the animal route, dog walking or housesitting animals, or becoming a groomer. Effectively, if you are good at something that is in demand and have a level of resilience, there are  lots of ways that you can make it work. Pursuing an idea to have your own business could just provide the flexibility that you’re looking for. There are a number of considerations  to weigh up when going out alone. Initially, you may worry that your regular wage is no longer coming in. Start by dipping your toe, working alongside your existing job in the evenings and on weekends. Or look at contracting to give you a degree of security whilst you get your head around your finances. You may need some money to start up. Prepare a business plan and approach your bank to understand what loans may be available to help you get started. You won’t receive any employment benefits such as a private pension, maternity or holiday pay. Look for a pension plan that you can pay into, and try to work your holiday allowance into your salary. Nobody will be there to motivate you, and the hours may be longer at times. Avoid feeling isolated by attending networking events or using shared workspaces, and seek support from family and friends. The major benefit however, is that you  can choose your own hours.  Early mornings, nap times and evenings might become part of your working day, but you’ll be able to fit it around the kids. You can do the school run, go to sports day and watch the nativity play without asking anyone’s permission. You can accommodate school holidays or kids’ sick days, and even turn work down if it doesn’t suit you (and can afford to). Becoming your own boss isn’t right for everyone, but it’s certainly a feasible option that more and more people choose - particularly to fit around children. Make the new year your opportunity for a fresh start. Rhian Harris is a freelance digital marketing and content specialist - helping lifestyle and parenting businesses to be great online. She has been self-employed since 2012, working flexibly with clients around her 2 young children. Find out more at www.sparklycontent.com