Sole traders are becoming more and more successful in 2021, with the continual rise of online shopping and the increasing ease for consumers searching for small businesses online too. Plenty of sole traders make a great living by selling through platforms like Etsy and eBay, and some even sell purely from bespoke commissions or Instagram sales.
If you are new to this game and are still in the research phase, you are in the right place. Being a sole trader isn’t without its trials and tribulations, and in this blog, we will explore five aspects of this career that you should consider before jumping in!
1. You may not have many days off.
Being a sole trader gives you lots of control – more on that in the next section! – but the flipside of that control means that you also have sole responsibility over your business. If orders need to be shipped on a certain day, or you have customer complaints, or perhaps you need to finalise some manufacturing issues – all of this falls at your door.
For the first few months while you find your feet, it is likely that you won’t get a day off. If you choose to stay as a sole trader as your business becomes more successful, you’ll certainly be no stranger to the seven day work week. Being a sole trader isn’t for the fainthearted!
2. You’ll be able to control all creative and financial decisions.
As we mentioned earlier, as a sole trader you will have total control over your creative and financial decisions. You will be able to decide which products are continued, whether to bring in new versions of your product or service, and how to market these to the public.
If you have always wanted to run your own business but aren’t much of a people person, being a sole trader is for you. Of course, you will need to consult professionals such as accountants from time to time, but if you mainly enjoy your own company, you won’t be disappointed by the sole trader’s life!
3. You can expand at your own pace.
One thing about running a larger company with multiple employees is that you can feel pressured to make decisions based on other people’s opinions. As a sole trader, you will be able to expand – or not – at your own pace, depending on what your financial and social goals are as a business.
Business expansion is always a risky business, and as a sole trader, having total responsibility can be a double edged sword. Yes, you can take things at your own pace and not feel pressured – but making big decisions alone can be a little bit daunting, too. There’s no perfect setup, so being a sole trader can be both a nightmare and a dream, depending on how you prefer to work.
4. You might need to rely on the kindness of friends and family.
Certainly in the early days of your small business, as a sole trader you will need to rely on your friends and family for success. You might need help packing orders after a particularly busy influx of new customers, or you could need advice, transport, or any other assistance for projects you can’t do alone.
If you have lots of caring individuals in your life, this shouldn’t be much of a problem – however, if you are more of a lone wolf in life, being a sole trader could be a big weight on your shoulders. Tread carefully when you are first setting up your sole trader business.
5. You need a wide breadth of business knowledge.
To become a successful sole trader, your knowledge will need to be extensive in many areas of business. Unlike a larger company that will have marketing specialists, accountants, writers, product experts and manufacturing professionals at its disposal, you’ll be doing much of this on your own.
Of course, there is always the option to outsource. But even if you do outsource some things to other companies, your knowledge must still be strong, or you could make unwise decisions when hiring others to help you achieve success.
There are so many buzzwords and terms in business, you’ll need to keep abreast of trends and new developments in your industry. If you don’t want to be up late Googling “what does MOQ mean?” at 2am, you should probably take a few business courses before launching your business.
The life of a sole trader isn’t one that everyone would pick, so if you are considering becoming one yourself, make sure you use this guide to help you decide!