What’s the difference between freelancing, owning a business and self-employment?

Self-employment means working for yourself, rather than being employed by a company or other person. If you’re self-employed, you have to submit your own tax returns and don’t automatically receive benefits such as sick pay or maternity pay. Owning a business and freelancing are both types of self-employment.


If you work ad-hoc for other people or companies then you are probably a freelancer. For instance, if an accountant needs a website but does not need to employ a permanent web-designer, then they may choose to hire a freelancer for a set project. As a freelancer, you will typically be known as a ‘sole-trader’. Our platform Flightpath is designed for freelancers, so if this option is for you, give it a go.

Owning a Business

Owning a business is different, as it typically involves hiring other people or working with co-owners. You could set up a LTD company, incorporation, community interest group or be a sole-trader. For more information about different business types, it’s best to attend our workshop Structuring Your Business. You can also ask a mentor.