Ways of working for yourself

An increasing number of Goldsmiths graduates are working for themselves. Whether you’re a creative freelancer, a social entrepreneur, or simply have any great commercial idea, Goldsmiths is here to help you take your ideas forward.

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Covid-19 update

There are many useful things you can do to prepare the ground for starting your own business or freelancing during this time.

A big one is online research:

  • Who is doing something similar to what you are considering doing?
  • How do they market themselves?
  • What is their offer?
  • Which seem to be their most popular products and services?

Follow these people and organisations on social media, join relevant professional groups on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to understand how people are adjusting to the current situation and what their plans are.

The Careers Service will be running a range of webinars this term on freelancing and starting your own business or social enterprise - book for these via CareerSPACE. You can also book a one-to-one enterprise appointment to plan how to test and move forward with your idea.


The months ahead feel quite uncertain and it is difficult to plan ahead and move forward in such a situation.

However, every situation has its own unique opportunities. Are there needs at present and going forward that you could meet through the services or products you have been developing? How might you adjust what you have been thinking of doing to meet your customers' current needs?

You can book a one-to-one enterprise appointment to talk through your ideas.

14% of Goldsmiths graduates from 2016/17 were running a business/freelancing 6 months after graduating.

Why work for yourself

If you have ideas for a new product or service, want a more flexible structure, or more control over your work life, then working for yourself is something to consider.


Freelancers work under a fixed contract to deliver a specific task or project for a client, which could be an agency or a company. Freelance roles are particularly common in the creative industries, amongst professions such as photographers, artists, designers or makers, performers as well as in the media, business and IT.

Different ways of working for yourself

Sole trader

A sole trader owns and manages a business and there is no legal distinction between the owner and the company. After tax, profits are all yours, but this is equally true of any debts you incur.


Partnerships are when a minimum of two people own or control a business and share the profits and losses of the business. Partners can own differing amounts of the business.

Social enterprise

These are businesses with social purpose where profits are reinvested back into the business or local community. Social enterprise covers a range of different types of business including cooperatives, employee owned businesses, and community interest companies.

Limited company

Unlike sole traders and partnerships, limited companies allow the separation of an individual’s assets and liabilities from the company’s. A limited company has to be registered at Companies House, and there are legal obligations in the formation and running of the business.