There’s an uncomfortable truth about self employment. Yes, for many it’s their dream scenario, creating what they want, answering to no one. But for others it’s increasingly the only option, and a ‘race to the bottom’ rather than an exciting lifestyle choice.

Employment figures have never been better, or so they tell us. Unemployment in Britain has long sat at less than 5%, a sign of the health of the jobs market and economy. Or so they tell us.

In actual fact, unemployment figures alone are a very poor measure of the jobs market. It’s like asking a man if he has a pair of shoes.

“well yes, I’ve got shoes, but they’ve got holes in. And the soles are coming off.”

“Never mind that. We’re going on a 10 mile trek!”

“But sir, I’m not possibly equipped!”

“Nonsense boy! Have you got shoes or haven’t you?”

The disappearance of the ‘steady job’

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, what used to be plentiful, ‘steady’ jobs are a lot harder to come by. Gone are the days when you could walk out of school or university and someone would ask you what you wanted to do. Now they tell you what’s realistic.

And the result? Strong competition for even the most basic of jobs.

I recall recently a story in the national press. A highstreet coffee chain decided to open a branch in an English city. They were inundated with 1000 (yes one zero zero zero) applications forpositions as barristas and managers.

Needless to say that’s a lot of disappointed candidates and alit of unanswered CVs.

And this is precisely what we can refer to as the race to the bottom.

With so many candidates competing for the same few positions the power is heavily in the companies favour. It will be harder to negotiate favourable working hours or a higher salary.

And this stressful, dog-eatdog jobs market is one of the reasons many are turning to self employment.

What’s extraordinarily deceitful about these ‘unemployment’ figures is the total lack of detail. If you class yourself as self employed, you’re not a jobseeker and therefore not counted towards the unemployment figures.

The government makes no effort to ascertain whether you make any money, whether you have enough hours or whether you supplement your income with tax credits or, worse still, food banks.

So for many, the world of self employment is the bleak reality of lack of opportunity.

I wasn’t aware of this….

To be honest, neither was I until recently. I only discovered the true nature of some people’s employment as I started to talk with different types of entrepreneurs.

I was talking to a chap recently who visits car boot sales and flea markets and attempts to buy items and sell them on for a profit.

He was employed full time as well, but such was the stagnation in his wages he had turned to this method to supplement his income.

In fact, I’ve met quite a few others who do this sort of work full time, and attempt to live off the profits.

Most of the time when you ask them how business is they simply reply “up and down”, meaning its tough. But they’re getting by.

Would they choose this work if there was an appealing, well paid full time job that they stood a chance of gaining? Unlikely.

The opportunity of self employment.

So that’s the often unseen, negative side of self employment. But in truth, whilst competition can be high with so many joining the field, opportunity is also endless.

If you have a skill that you know is marketable, there’s no reason you can’t make a success of working for yourself.

Whereas if you don’t have a particular skill, ideaor angle – but just want to make a living online – you’re going to struggle.

There are thousandsof others challenging for those entry level positions and as we mentioned earlier, traditional jobs are hard to come by.

So with that in mind, my advice would be simple:

You need a realistic goal. If you’re a qualified graphic designer and you know how to market and sell a product, take the plunge. Build a website and a Fiverr account, and get to work.

However is you see self employment as an aspiration but don’t know where to start, hang fire.

By all means build a website. Learn how to dropship, blog or use photoshop. But don’t give up that all important day job just yet.

Competition is fierce and jobs are so scarce that, although it can feel like a race to the bottom at times, you need to keep hold of that regular income where you can get it.

And as and when your entrepreneurial idea takes off, then you can make a calculated decision to make the move full time.

So as always, I wish you the very best on your journey.

Oh, and when you become a milionare, don’t forget about me.. My blogging rates are very reasonable.

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