Each week the NZ Herald's Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's the rise in self-employed New Zealanders, and how to do it with more success. Hosted by Frances Cook.

With the world turning upside down this year, you might think now was a terrible time to try new things with your career.

Instead, many Kiwis are embracing the uncertainty, to become independent earners.


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It makes sense in a way. There's something freeing about feeling like you've not got anything to lose, so you can finally have a crack at contracting, or becoming self-employed.

The old limits have gone.

On the latest Cooking the Books podcast, Hnry CEO James Fuller said their company had seen this trend first hand.

Hnry provides tax services for self-employed New Zealanders, and in the past three months their sign-up numbers have gone up 260 per cent compared to the same time last year.

He thinks the spike is down to our battered economy, with some people losing jobs and others having their hours cut.

But he also points out that many who still have jobs are choosing to also earn independent income on the side; it's a form of insurance in an unstable economy.

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Whatever reason you have for dipping a toe into the self-employed pool, there are ways to be strategic about it to give yourself the best chance at success.

Fuller said one of the best places to start was identifying your skills.


If you look at the skills you use in your job, rather than just the jobs you've done, you'll see a broader range of opportunities available to you.

"Think of your skills as being a bit like a portfolio. Saying okay, I have a broad range of skills that I probably hadn't considered as individual skills before.

"[Many people] say I'm a graphic designer, or a business analyst, but they don't look at the skills that go into that.

"Then the next step from there is to say, how good am I at those things? There might be particular packages or approaches that you're better at.

"Work out what are the skills you can apply right now, and what are the things I should be learning, so that I can be selling those to the public or to businesses."

After that it's a good idea to reach out to your network. Many jobs are never advertised in the first place.


So reaching out to old bosses, colleagues, friends, and even putting the word out on social media, is key to make sure that you're top of mind when people hear of opportunities.

"The worst that people can say is no, but you have to be open about saying hey, I'm looking for work, and be clear about what type of work you're looking for," Fuller said.

"Businesses themselves are looking for more shorter-term workers. Some of them aren't hiring significant numbers of salaried staff, but they're still looking to hire for scale, and reach out to the freelancer, contractor market."

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