What is it like to work for yourself?


An entrepreneur is someone who starts and manages their own business.

However, starting a business and making it a success is difficult, so it takes a certain kind of person.

Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life but are generally confident, enthusiastic, and innovative people.

Famous entrepreneurs include Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey.

It takes a lot of hard work to be an entrepreneur, and there is no guarantee of success.

Research, research, research

If you want to start a new business you need to do extensive research to answer the following questions:

  • Do people need my product or service?
  • How do I make my product or deliver my service?
  • How much money will I need to start, and how will I get it?
  • Will I need to employ staff? How much will this cost?
  • How will I market and promote my product?
  • How will I sell my product, in a shop, online or somewhere else?
  • Where will I operate my business?
  • What transport costs will I have to pay?

These are just a few of the things you need to know before you start.

Get any one of them wrong and your business could be in trouble. You can already see that being an entrepreneur is no picnic.

So why do people do it?

Be your own boss

For many people the advantages of being self-employed outweigh the risks involved.

Many people hate working for someone else, and become frustrated by always having to answer to a manager.

Self-employment allows you to make your own decisions, and be responsible for your own fate.

There is a sense of satisfaction in achieving your business goals, something you can’t do when you’re working for someone else.

You are doing something you feel passionate about

Most people take a job to pay the bills.

It’s rare to find someone who truly loves their job.

Being an entrepreneur is different.

You are on a personal mission to make your ideas a reality and help shape the world around you.

This feels less like work and more like an adventure.

You also have more freedom to choose what type of projects you work on.

You can focus on things that interest you, and work with companies that share your vision.

You can work flexible hours

Most entrepreneurs work far harder than people who are working nine to five, especially in the early stages of a business.

But once it is up and running, an entrepreneur can set their own hours and choose when to take holidays.

You may enjoy a healthier work-life balance as an entrepreneur than wage-earners.

You can more easily make time for your family and friends.

The opposite is true too.

During times when the business needs more attention you can choose to work longer hours.


Of course, there are downsides to being your own boss, especially if your business struggles to make a profit.

Being self-employed means being responsible for your failures as well as your successes.

You are responsible for your staff, who are relying on you for a job.

If the business is struggling, you may find yourself working far more than you would like.

If the business fails, you may find yourself in debt.

Even if the business is doing well, you may find that you grow to dislike the idea you once loved so much.

The decision to start a business must be taken with great care.


It might sound like entrepreneurs make it or break it on their own. It’s true that they carry more responsibility that the average worker. But they are not alone. Small and medium sized businesses are vital to the health of the economy, so there is plenty of support for people who are willing to take the risk to start one.

Budding entrepreneurs can find advice, help and support from the following organisations:

The Department of Employment and Learning (DEL)

The Department for the Economy (DfE)

Invest Northern Ireland

The Prince’s Trust