Self Employment – Is it Caaake?

Written by Sam

Is self-employment a piece of cake? Or does it have hidden layers?

Feels a bit weird comparing self employment to a Netflix TV show, but stay with us.

When you compare it to the hit Netflix show “Is it Cake?” where participants create cakes mimicking everyday objects, the metaphor begins to make sense.

Self-employment, much like the crafty cakes in the show, might look like an ordinary job (or object) from the outside. But once you cut into it, you reveal layers of uniqueness that distinguish it from traditional employment.

Why Self-Employment Mirrors an Ordinary Job

Just like the astonishingly realistic cakes on “Is it Cake?”, self-employment can often mimic the image of a traditional, salaried job.

It features clients, deadlines, and routine tasks. Yet, beneath this familiar facade, the reality of self-employment is as different from a regular job as a cake is from a handbag.

The Office for National Statistics reports that self-employment experienced a 15-year low as a direct result of Covid. In December 2019, self employment experienced a peak of 15.3% of the total UK employment workforce being self employed.

This was just over 5 million people.

Fast forward to March 2022, and although in recent months the figures are on the rise, we are at the same levels as we were 15 years ago for the number of people self-employed at only 12.3% of the working public classed as “Self-Employed”

Cutting into the Cake: The Reality of Self-Employment

What do we find when we cut into the ‘cake’ of self-employment?

Inside are layers of autonomy and creativity that a traditional 9-5 job often lacks. The freedom to choose clients, set your own schedule, and direct your business is a sweet bite that many are chasing.

In fact, according to IPSE, Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, 80% of freelancers recorded a somewhat positive impact to their mental health.

The key reasons people go freelance are for the flexibility (88%) and control over work (88%) it offers

The Challenges: Every Cake Has Its Crumbs

Much like any cake, self-employment also has its tougher, crumbly parts. It comes with unique challenges – financial instability, irregular work hours, and a potential sense of isolation.

Funnily enough, studies on the index of happiness for the self-employed are fairly hard to come by but a comparison report of employed vs self-employed during covid published by the national library of Medicine, focusing on EU countries found a few interesting stats:

  • There was a significantly lower level of life satisfaction among self-employed people (6.10 on a scale of 1 to 10) than among employed people (6.45 on a scale of 1 to 10) during the pandemic.
  • There was no significant difference in life satisfaction between self-employed people who had employees compared to those who did not (6.15 versus 6.08 on a scale of 1 to 10).
  • 32% of self-employed people reported poor household finances during the pandemic, compared to 20% of employed people.
  • 64% of self-employed people reported a deteriorating financial situation during the pandemic, compared to 35% of employed people.
  • 50% of self-employed people reported worries about work during the pandemic, compared to 27% of employed people.
  • 22% of self-employed people reported job insecurity during the pandemic, compared to 13% of employed people.
  • Around half of self-employed people reported having a financially fragile situation during the pandemic.
  • 46% of self-employed people reported difficulties in making ends meet during the pandemic.

So we can assume in times of crisis, such as Covid or even the cost of living crisis, that those that are self-employed are more likely to get stressed over finances.

Cake? Not Cake?

Ultimately, being self-employed has provided me with the freedom to spend with my family, set my own hours and I’ve loved seeing the company we work so hard on continue to grow year after year, but from my personal experience, it isn’t all sweetness.

Cake Not Cake
1. Independence and Control: Self-employed individuals have the freedom to make their own decisions and control their work. 1. Financial Instability: Income may fluctuate month to month, making financial planning more challenging.
2. Flexibility: The ability to set your own hours and work from anywhere can lead to better work-life balance. 2. Irregular Work Hours: Depending on the workload, self-employed individuals might end up working long and irregular hours.
3. Direct Financial Rewards: The potential for financial gain can be much higher, as you directly reap the benefits of your efforts. 3. Lack of Benefits: Self-employed individuals don’t receive benefits like health insurance, paid leave, or retirement contributions from an employer.
4. Personal Satisfaction: Creating and running a successful business can provide a sense of personal achievement and job satisfaction. 4. Isolation: Working alone can sometimes lead to a feeling of isolation.
5. Creativity and Innovation: Self-employment can offer more opportunities to innovate and pursue creative ideas. 5. Administrative Burden: Self-employed individuals are responsible for all aspects of the business, including taxes, accounting, and administration.

Is it Caaake?

So, is self-employment a piece of cake?

Much like the illusionary cakes on the Netflix show, it might appear as a regular job but reveal a very different reality when you delve into it.

It’s a complex recipe of autonomy, creativity, challenges, and risks. As more people turn to self-employment, understanding this mixture can help them navigate this path successfully, savouring the sweet rewards while also handling the occasional bitter bites.

Side note…

This post was inspired/stolen from a conversationI had on Threads app…with @tomjepsoncreative and if you don’t know what the ThreadsApp is, then I’m not sure this was the right blog for you.


For the record, he gave us permission to steal it here.