Sunday, November 15, 2009

Advantages and Disadvantages

Like any business, being self-employed has its advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons, good vs. bad, upsides and up-side-downs...

While weighing your do-I-or-don't-I options for going independent in France, consider these:

Professional Advantages
  • You can explore unlimited realms of ELT around the world,
  • You can accept work from almost every language school and company that rings you up,
  • You have the freedom to accept other offers, not just in teaching (e.g. materials and test writing),
  • You can accept unlimited vacataire offers (being independent IS your employeur principal),
  • You can subcontract your freelance friends,
  • You develop basic accounting skills.
Financial Advantages
  • You have more flexibility with earnings and spending (e.g. fees, investments, etc),
  • You can declare up to 50% of your rent as a business expense* not to mention telephone, internet, equipment, etc.,
  • Training (e.g. TESOL France membership, attending and speaking at international conferences, etc) is written off as a business expense,
  • If you are married, the reduction on income tax spills over onto your spouse.
* 50% with a studio; approx 40% if a 1-bedroom apt. Consult your accountant.

Personal Advantages
  • You are your own boss,
  • It gives you an edge in your classes especially if you teach English for Specific Purposes (ESP) such as in Business or Finance,
  • Your employer goes from being your boss to being your client,
  • It looks great on your CV,
  • You can develop self-promotional skills,
  • It will improve your French.
  • It can cause administrative overload, especially in the beginning,
  • Independents often feel like they're drowning in mail, taxes, estimates, billing, banking issues, etc.,
  • Dealing with the jargon – in English and in French - can cause migraines,
  • Technically, you are personally liable for your assets should the business fail or a client calls into question your professional responsibility. *
* But last time I checked, teaching English wasn't considered "risky business" ... unless you count teaching the present perfect.

What does it take?
  • Extreme patience
  • Meticulous organization
  • Creativity
  • A tough gut
  • Determination
  • Assertiveness
  • Functional French
  • Pride & a tough ego ... yet: humbleness
  • If applicable, a supportive spouse, ideally French speaking
As you weigh these advantages and disadvantages remember: going independent isn't for everyone. But neither are bungee jumping, guerrilla marketing and escargot.


  1. You can protect your assets by creating a EURL (instead of a EI) but the administrative burden is higher.

  2. Great stuff Bethany - I've boxed it to show my colleagues. Have you seen all the comments on the recent "unsung hero" post on Kalingo English. I don't seem to be able to add a link in the comments box :-(

  3. I love this blog it's so helpful. One question I have is, is it possible to work for a school part time but also do a few hours as a freelancer at a non-conflicting company? Your insight would be really useful!



  4. Hi Lindsey. Glad you like the blog!

    The short answer is yes! You can do double duty by working your usual contracts (CDD, CDII, and even CDI depending on the contract policies) and be an independent. I did double duty for a while because I had to approach each language school to take on my new status. Wasn't too hard in the end. Being an independent means less paperwork for them!

    I'll be blogging about crossing over (CDII to Independent) shortly. So stay tuned!

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