In 2017, in the European Union (EU), there were more than 228 million employed people, and about 33 million of them were self-employed. Self-employed people in the EU reported several reasons for becoming self-employed in the current job: suitable opportunity (23%), continuation of the family business (16%), usual practice in the field (15%), flexible work hours (11%), no job found as employee (11%) and request by former employer (2%).
There is a slight difference with regard to reasons to become self-employed reported by male and female self-employed in the EU. More women than men followed the usual practice in the field (16% of female self-employed vs 14% male self-employed) and more women than men opted for flexible work hours (14% vs 10%).
As the main difficulties, the self-employed report high administrative burden (13%) and periods of having no customer, no assignments or projects to work on (12%), delayed payments or non-payments (12%), periods of financial hardship (9%), lack of influence on price settings (8%) and lack of income in case of illness (8%). Almost one third of them reported not facing difficulties (28%).
In 2017, in the EU, 77% of the self-employed had two and more clients where none was dominant, 18% of self-employed people in the EU depended on a dominant client and 4% had no client in the last 12 months.