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Self-employment refers to the state of working for oneself rather than being employed by an external organization or company. Self-employed individuals earn income by operating their own businesses, providing professional services, or freelancing. They often act as their own boss, take on multiple roles within their businesses, and are responsible for paying their own taxes and providing their own benefits.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Self-Employment” is: sɛlf ɛmˈploɪmənt

Key Takeaways

  1. Flexibility and Control: Self-employment allows individuals to have more control over their working hours, work environment, and the projects they choose to work on. This often leads to a greater work-life balance, the freedom to pursue passions, and the ability to set their own pace.
  2. Income Potential and Financial Responsibilities: Individuals who are self-employed have the potential to earn unlimited income based on their business success. However, they also have greater financial responsibility, as they must manage cash flow, taxes, insurance, retirement planning, and various business expenses themselves.
  3. Risk and Uncertainty: Self-employment often involves a higher degree of risk compared to traditional employment, including irregular income, market fluctuations, and potential business failure. Those who choose this path must be prepared to manage these uncertainties and develop a plan to address potential risks and challenges associated with their business ventures.


Self-employment is an important concept in business and finance as it refers to individuals who work for themselves, either by owning a business or working as an independent contractor. This status allows individuals to have greater control over their work, income, and tax responsibilities. Self-employed individuals contribute significantly to the economy by generating new ideas, products, services, and job opportunities. They also play a vital role in promoting innovation, diversifying income streams, and offering unique products and services that may not be available from larger corporations. Additionally, self-employment can be a pathway to financial independence and a chance for personal and professional growth, as they directly reap the rewards and assume the risks of their own business ventures.


Self-employment offers individuals the opportunity to carve their own path in the business world, enabling them to be their own boss, set their schedules, and pursue their passions. It commonly caters to professionals that possess specific skill sets or talents that can be directed into a particular service or product offering. The primary purpose of self-employment is to establish a sustainable means of generating income based on an individual’s capabilities and talent, which are offered to clients as a service or a product. This independence from traditional employer-employee relationships allows self-employed individuals to take full control of their income potential, as they are no longer beholden to set pay structures or promotional hierarchies. In turn, the responsibility for their success lies squarely on their shoulders, with their ability to manage and grow their business directly impacting their financial well-being. Moreover, self-employment caters to an essential facet of economic growth and innovation in various industries. By introducing original ideas, products, and services to the market, self-employed entrepreneurs diversify the competitive landscape and drive improvements in consumer choice. As these individuals navigate the complexities of managing their business, they commonly engage the services of other local businesses such as accountants, marketers, and suppliers, thus bolstering localized economic growth. Additionally, as self-employed businesses expand, these individuals may employ others, further demonstrating the role self-employment plays in fostering employment opportunities. Ultimately, self-employment serves as a critical avenue for individuals to harness their potential, develop niches, and contribute to overall economic progression.


1. Freelance Graphic Designer: A graphic designer who offers their creative services to clients without being an employee of a company or agency represents self-employment. They work on a project-by-project basis, setting their rates, seeking out clients, and managing their business finances independently. 2. Independent Consultant: A professional, such as a management consultant who provides expert advice to businesses, can choose to work as a self-employed individual instead of joining a consulting firm. They market their skills, identify opportunities, negotiate contracts, and manage their clients on their own. 3. Home-based Online Retailer: An entrepreneur who starts their own e-commerce business selling products online through platforms like Etsy, eBay, or a personal website is self-employed. They handle all aspects of the business, such as sourcing and stocking merchandise, marketing, customer service, and operations without being part of a larger company or organization.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is self-employment?
Self-employment refers to an individual working for themselves instead of as an employee for another person or company. Self-employed individuals generate their income by running their own businesses, working as freelancers, or providing professional services in their field of expertise.
How does self-employment differ from regular employment?
Self-employed individuals are not considered employees of other businesses, meaning they do not receive a salary and benefits from an employer. Instead, they are responsible for managing their own expenses, taxes, and business operations. They also take on the risks and responsibilities associated with being a business owner.
How do taxes work for self-employed individuals?
Self-employed individuals must pay self-employment taxes, which combine Social Security and Medicare taxes, and they need to file Schedule C (or Schedule C-EZ) with their federal income tax return. They are also responsible for making quarterly estimated tax payments to cover their income tax and self-employment tax liabilities.
Can a self-employed person have employees?
Yes, self-employed individuals can hire employees as their businesses grow. In this case, they become responsible for meeting employer obligations, such as withholding and paying payroll taxes, providing workers’ compensation insurance, and following relevant labor laws.
What are the advantages of self-employment?
Advantages of self-employment include increased flexibility, greater control over one’s work, potential for higher income, and the opportunity to build a business that aligns with one’s values and interests.
What are the disadvantages of self-employment?
Disadvantages of self-employment include the lack of employer-provided benefits, such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans, as well as a more unpredictable income, potential isolation, and increased responsibility for managing all aspects of your business.
How can someone become self-employed?
To become self-employed, an individual should first identify a business idea or professional service they want to offer. They should then create a business plan, research and follow relevant legal and regulatory requirements, and establish their business as a legal entity if necessary. Finally, they should market and promote their services or products to attract clients and customers.
Is it necessary to register a business for self-employment?
Depending on the location and type of self-employment, registering a business might be required. Some jurisdictions require formal registration, while others only require a local business license. Always research your local regulations to ensure you are in compliance.
What resources are available for self-employed individuals?
There are several resources available to self-employed individuals, including accounting software, business plan guides, industry-specific advice, and organizations like the Small Business Administration (SBA) and local Chamber of Commerce. These resources can provide guidance on managing business finances, developing effective marketing strategies, and staying compliant with industry regulations.

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