So much for the high-earning small business owner.
A new report by debt charity StepChange has found that self-employed people face average debts of 18.6 times their annual income, compared to 4.1 times for those working full or part-time.
One reason for the gap is that – contrary to stereotype – the self-employed earn less than their salaried peers, to the tune of 14 percent.
But there are other factors at play, too. Self-employed people and freelancers often wrack up debt to grow their business or get through rough patches. Their financial fortunes are also more closely tied to the state of their business, with no guaranteed monthly salary to ride them out.
And in the current financial climate, this leaves many freelancers and business owners in a more precarious position than ever, StepChange’s external affairs director Delroy Corinaldi told The Guardian.
“According to the [Centre for Economics and Business Research], the number of insolvencies for 2012 is expected to be higher than at any point since the financial crisis, meaning the financial position of many self-employed people will be extremely perilous, now or in the very near future.”