Self Employment ~ Planning for Holidays
This week saw a Bank holiday here in the UK and on Bank holidays the majority of the country comes to a standstill for a well-earned break. You might find a few of the bigger retail stores and supermarkets open for a portion of the day but other than that there’s not an awful lot you can do besides relax and spend some quality time with the family which I think is great, unless you’re self-employed that is!
I’ve been self-employed for several years and Bank holidays have always proved a bit of a conundrum. Whilst you want to relax along with the rest of the country and enjoy a well-earned rest, unfortunately you don’t have the benefit that an employed person has of being paid for the privilege. I realise that some employees do get roped into working bank holidays but if that’s the case then they’re often rewarded with an increased hourly rate of pay, which is again something that the majority of self-employed people aren’t able to enjoy, not without running the risk of losing half of their customer base anyway. Imagine telling your clients that you’re charging them twice your standard hourly rate just because it’s a bank holiday! I guess some businesses could get away with it but the majority couldn’t.
For the early period of my self-employed life, I seemed to constantly find myself working on bank holidays and many other days that people traditionally take off to spend time with the family, either because I couldn’t afford to take the time off or because my schedule simply didn’t allow it. It’s amazing how a few days off can play havoc with your upcoming schedule.
Now I know bank holidays only come around a few times a year and it really isn’t that difficult to organise your affairs if you really want to take the time off, but there is a bigger picture here.
Holidays in General
If you’re considering self-employment I feel it’s important to be aware of and also build into your pricing structure any expenses that you might incur. Although some people may not consider taking time off for holidays strictly as an expense, unless you want to end up with a growing Barclaycard Arrival card bill then it’s still something that has to be factored into the price you charge for your services.
In fact, when it comes to taking time off for holidays, self-employed people tend to take a double hit. Not only do they have to pay out large amounts for their holiday package and spending money but many also won’t be earning any money whilst they’re away from their business. Even If you are able to keep your business operating whilst you’re away, you’ll likely incur extra wage costs, reducing profits for that period.
So where does pricing come into this? Well if you’re thinking of starting a small business, especially a service based business where time literally is money, I think it’s important to view holidays and even bank holidays as an expense if you’re aiming to take those days off.
Most people enter self-employment to gain a measure of freedom from the daily grind of employment, yet many people find themselves enslaved to their business because they don’t organise their finances and pricing structure correctly. If you’re going to set up as a self-employed joiner for example, don’t just base your pricing model on a figure that you feel will cover your weekly or monthly expenses. Instead base it on a figure that will allow you to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle after extra costs such as holidays, replacement vehicles, replacement tools etc. have all been factored in. These points might sound obvious but it’s amazing how many people don’t think about these things and then wonder why they can’t afford to take time off or maintain their equipment.
If you think self-employment is easy, think again. It’s hard work and although you might be giving up the rat race and taking control of your own affairs, if you don’t get key decisions like pricing correct, you might just find yourself asking why you ever left the stability and relative perks of employment behind in the first place.
Are you self-employed? How do you factor holidays in your pricing structure? If you’re employed, could you give up the perks of employment?