I've been seen this press release by AXA. Obviously they are looking for a bit of PR but I do wonder about the accuracy of their research. What do you think?

New research by AXA Business Insurance busts some of the most prevalent myths about being self-employed in today’s Britain. According to the survey, part of the company’s annual Stress Index, those working for themselves are less stressed, have a better work-life balance and better mental wellbeing than everyone else. Pain points did emerge, however: being on call 24/7 and fluctuating monthly incomes were the twin bugbears of self-employed life.

FICTION 1: It’s more stressful being your own boss

Seventy eight per cent of self-employed people describe themselves as stressed to some extent. This may seem catastrophically high, but only when compared to those who work for someone else where the figure is nine in ten.

Fewer self-employed people said their stress came from their work life: 42 per cent compared to 61 per cent of company employees. Work for yourself and you are also three times less likely to say you deal with ‘difficult’ people as part of your daily work.

When work stress does hit the self-employed, it is less likely to become chronic: while 11 per cent of workers say they are stressed all the time, that falls to just two per cent of those who work for themselves. And when asked about their overall mental health, 30 per cent of full-time employees said they had concerns compared to just 11 per cent of ‘own bosses’.

“Running a business is stressful, but the fact that I’m the one in control, means I feel I can handle stress better now than when I worked for someone else.”

FICTION 2: Self-employment is always more precarious

Half of self-employed people said they sometimes struggle to pay their bills due to monthly fluctuations in income. But, this issue is no longer just a problem for them, as one in five company employees said the same, perhaps due to many working on gig economy contracts for their employers.

Self-employed people are less likely to feel their income is insecure in the long term. Just under half said they worry about the stability of their business: again high, but lower than the two thirds of employees who worry their jobs are insecure. Likewise, 83 per cent said their work is safe from automation in their lifetimes, double the number of those who work for someone else.

“There were people who told me it wasn’t worth the risk. I don’t see why it’s any better being a small cog in a big wheel. It’s less risky to be (or own) the wheel!”

FICTION 3: You have to be a workaholic to run a business

Just 22 per cent of self-employed people said they worked overly long hours, half the figure of those in employment. Being ‘always on’ is part of the deal, however, as two thirds of business owners say they always take calls and emails from customers outside normal working hours.

“The biggest myth is that you have to work long hours for little reward. I work hard, but I work from home and choose my hours to suit”

FICTIONS 4 and 5: Self-employment is a poverty trap / a road to riches

The truth is more mundane: on average, a full-time self-employed person earns £33,000 or £6,000 more than the average employee. That’s not to say the two extremes do not exist: one in ten self-employed people earn under £11,000 per year from their business. A more sizeable 22 per cent earn above the £45,000 higher rate of tax, while a lucky four per cent top the £100,000 mark.

Gareth Howell, Managing Director, AXA Direct: “We have the stereotype of the adrenalin driven entrepreneur and assume that being your own boss is always stressful. Looking at our index, self-employed people do indeed appear stressed, but that’s only before you compare them to everyone else. This is a fascinating bit of insight: does life just get less stressful when you’re self-employed, or do you simply become more resilient?”

 “I do feel there is something here about how much control an individual feels they have over their destiny. When we asked people about their motivations for starting a business ‘control’ was the word that came up time and again, in four in ten verbatim answers. Being able to wrest back control in an uncertain world is the crux of our self-employment boom, and explains why the self-employed come out best in this year’s Stress Index.”  

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  • PRO
    I stressed for a while when I foolishly took on too much.
    Coming up to the end of the first year on my own, got work through winter but budgeted and planned not to do much in Jan anyway.
    So, if I can get things a bit more organised then it should be a bit less stressful.
  • PRO

    I'm the same John. Whenever I'm in a situation where the work keeps piling up and no matter how many hours I work, I don't seem to knock a hole in it,  I feel stressed. I know it means I don't have to worry about money but it just isn't satisfying. 

    I always feel relief in the winter as the fading light means I have a definate finishing time.

    Next year I'm going to drop a few customers and be a lot more choosy what I take on. Ive always had difficulty achieving a decent work/ life balance . short, personally I've always felt more stressed being self employed than I did as an employee, although I wouldn't go back.

    • As soon as I read the first sentence
      "New research by AXA Business Insurance"
      I had to chuckle, I mean a company trying to market their insurance products for businesses.
      Isn't going to say being self-employed is stressful are they?
      Surveys have shown more people have taken the decision to become self-employed for many reasons
      More than ever before.
      A lot of these new" self-employed" are earning around the minimum wage (or less in some cases) without the other trappings for example holiday pay, sick pay, work wear, equipment etc that comes with being employed.
      I think being self-employed has plenty of stress, keeping work coming in, getting paid for the work,keeping ontop of regulatory requirements etc.
      Where as being employed you just go to work and get paid.
      How can running your own business be less stressful.
      • PRO

        "As soon as I read the first sentence "New research by AXA Business Insurance" I had to chuckle, I mean a company trying to market their insurance products for businesses. Isn't going to say being self-employed is stressful are they?" That's kind of how I viewed it too.

        • PRO

          I think the boredom and treadmill factor in many low paid jobs is far worse than the stress of self employment but i feel the for and against list some people might make before leaving a job to become self employed may lean heavily toward the against . 

          I once enquired with the inland revenue about starting a business while employed and they advised me literally thousands of people in the U.K do this .   

          Best of both worlds perhaps ? 

        • Maybe I'm just cynical ;)
  • Depends on what one gets stressed by really. My missus gets stressed about doing the dishes! I don't find running a business stressful atm other than times when very little comes in,or then loads at once, but on the other hand one good job can mean not having to work for 3 months, whereas most jobs even though regular waged and repetitive generally leave people plodding along bored just to make bill payments but never really getting anywhere. Also I don't appreciate being bossed about or making somebody else rich...
  • My last full time paid employment was as a teacher. I left my old job, went back to uni' got a 1st in computer science, did teacher training and then started in the classroom. The Kids were fine, mostly, but the bullshit and bollocks caused endless sleepless nights, deep depression and ended up with me taking anti depresants for about 7 years. I ended up head of IT at a good school but hated the constant nagging doubt and endless"new initiatives"  

    I quit and after 12 months supply teaching I set up my gardening business. I have never been so happy. I am my own boss, I set my own, high, standards. If a customer makes me unhappy I drop them. I don't earn a fortune, certainly nothing like I did at the end of my 10 year stint at the chalkface, but I can plan my own life, enjoy my weekends, relax.

    So, in my case, my life is a lot less stressful. No pills, no waking up in the night worrying about deadlines and reports. And my wife says she has her husband back, which I think is a good thing!

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