Enterprise and self-employment

Enterprise is the ability to handle uncertainty and respond positively to change, to create and implement new ideas and ways of doing things, to make reasonable risk/reward assessments and to act upon them in one’s personal life. You can bring an enterprising mindset and skillset to your career regardless of whether you happen to be self-employed or not.

Self-employment can include freelancing or starting your own business as a sole trader or business owner. There is an increasing trend for some graduates to start their own business rather than pursuing a traditional career. Many graduates pursue a 'side-hustle' alongside a more traditional job. Other graduates prefer a 'portfolio career', where different income-generating activities are combined to form an overall career, one activity sometimes taking precedence at one time or another, according to financial need or as opportunities arise.

Explore job roles

The most common forms of enterprise careers are:

  • Founding a start-up - This is when you develop a unique product or service and bring it to market, either alone or with a team. This is the most traditional enterprise route.
  • Self-employment - This is when you are the owner of your own business and are solely responsible for the success of this business. You may also hire other staff if you are self-employed.
  • Freelancing - This is a form of self-employment but you are usually more beholden to the requests of clients rather than working for yourself.

Ultimately, the distinctions between these terms is most important for tax purposes, which is not a major concern at the early stages. The most important thing to note is that all enterprise careers require you to take responsibility for your own idea and develop it as your own boss.

Enterprising people can start businesses in almost any sector where they spot an opportunity. Careers where it is very probable that you would need to freelance or be self-employed include the creative industries (e.g. performing arts, visual arts, writing), translation and interpreting.

Building skills and experience

Enterprise is all about having an ability to handle uncertainty, respond positively to change, take risks and innovate. Developing and nurturing your enterprising skills will be beneficial in any career you pursue, recruiters will appreciate creativity, innovation and self-motivation. Use our transferable skills pages to explore how to develop other skills you may need.

Further resources

Next steps

When planning your next steps you may have additional questions or want to explore certain aspects in more detail: