Top three tips for women in self-employment

Mar 12, 2020

Inna Yordanova, Senior Researcher at our sister company The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), recently released a report on women in self-employment. Here are her top tips for female freelancers.


More women than ever have entered self-employment in the last ten years. In fact, the number of women in self-employment reached a record high at the end of 2019. Our research found this is because women want greater control over when, where and how they work, and overall better work-life balance. 

While research by IPSE showed that self-employed women report high levels of satisfaction with their working life, it also found that they are more likely to experience challenges, and have greater support needs than men.

From this research, we have developed some top tips on how women in self-employment can be successful:


1.    Don’t undervalue your work

Our analysis shows a considerable gender pay gap in self-employment, which could potentially be related to the fact that a higher proportion of self-employed women have trouble finding work than men. The main reason for this is that women report not knowing how much to charge. 

Setting your day rates at the correct level is essential to allow you to control your income over the year. While charging high rates can lead to fear of losing clients, undervaluing your work could be even more dangerous. 

There are a couple of things you can do if you’re unsure of how much to charge your clients. A good first step is to do some online research on how much your competitors charge, especially if you’re new to self-employment. Other measures that might help include asking for a high rate first so that you are able to negotiate with your client. Make sure to review your day rate on a regular basis to account for any new experience gained.

Whatever strategy you choose, you should always remember to account for work-related expenses such as sick and holiday pay, as well as training and equipment costs, when setting your rates.

2.    Train and upskill yourself

IPSE’s research found that self-employed women are more likely than men to admit that training would be useful to them in areas ranging from setting up their business to taxes and bookkeeping.

Investing in training could help expand your skill set and strengthen your client base, which in turn could increase your earning potential and provide an income that allows for a better lifestyle and enables you to save.

3.    Use workhubs and co-working spaces
Our research also found that freelance women are more likely than men to say they enjoy the flexibility remote working allows. However, a quarter of them (25%) say they feel lonely as a result of working remotely. 
Using co-working spaces and workhubs could help resolve issues of loneliness and isolation as they can increase co-operation and encourage freelancers to share ideas and resources. Some co-working spaces also have care facilities which could be particularly useful for the 600,000 freelance working mothers in the UK, whose numbers continue to increase year to year.


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