Can you be self-employed?

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You are considered self-employed in Canada if you work alone as an independent worker or contractor (freelancer), if you own a business, if you control your own hours of work, or if you are a business partner or co-adventurer. Self-employment can be a viable career choice so long as you have the mindset, drive, personality, and the right resources for it.

Weigh your pros and cons

You may have heard that one of the best things about self-employment is that you regulate your own time. Others say that the best thing about it is that you become your own boss. If you are thinking of taking this path, you should know that while there are advantages, there are also disadvantages to being self-employed. Consider the following:


  1. You can direct the way you do your work and how you allocate your time;
  2. If you are a self-driven person, you may bloom under the challenge of deciding on all of the major issues of the work all on your own; and
  3. Better work/life balance because you set your own hours.
  4. More control of earnings/profits.


  1. More responsibility – you will have to file taxes, keep records, make business plans and strategies, etc. on your own;
  2. No paid holidays or sick days, no health insurance; and
  3. Isolation – No daily interaction with co-workers.

Depending on your values, temperament and goals, you can write down more advantages and disadvantages to this list. The point is, weighing your options thoroughly will help you see the situation realistically and help you decide what is best for you.

Learn all that you can

Another consideration is preparation and training. To be successful, you must first learn about rules and regulations, taxation matters, supports (for instance to financing a business), and the viability of the industry that you will work or operate in. Certain skills, such as entrepreneurial skills, come in handy for whatever type of self-employment path you wish to take.

There are free workshops and trainings from SEED Winnipeg and the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg that you can join to equip you before you take the plunge. Your self-employment success will depend on the amount of preparation you put in, as well as the skills you have developed on your way to directing your own path.

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Community Resources

The YMCA YWCA Self-Employment Program provides business coaching during the planning, launch and operations stage. You’ll receive support in drafting your business plan and the actual launching of your business.

Are you a young person who wants to get into business? Learn about the Youth Entrepreneurship Program at the YMCA-YWCA.

There are many programs in Manitoba that provide training and support to new entrepreneurs. Read Supports for entrepreneurs in Manitoba.

Read all about Employment Insurance special benefits for self-employed people.

Read An In-depth Guide for Independent Contractors in Canada by Daniel Kosir on Canada It explores the many considerations you need to think about when you are self-employed.

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