Consumer Insights on Self-Employment in the United States

The growth in technology allows many people to work from home and/or easily start a business. According to this study, over 15 million US people were self employed in 2015, or roughly 10.1%. The number most likely has increased between then and now, and we were curious to take a look inside the lives of the self-employed. Over 300 self-employed Americans completed the survey within a day, helping us to gather insights fast. Here are the results:

How Self-Employment works:

The top 3 types of self-employment are:

  1. 31% Independent business owner
  2. 23% Freelance
  3. 15% Independent contractor
  • 65% work in their home, while 10% rent a small office space, and 14% are digital nomads
  • 25% say they have friends that are also self-employed, 23% know immediate family and 21% have a spouse or significant other that is self-employed as well
  • 19% Worked a full-time job and a side gig until they quit my job to focus on their self-employment career
  • 26% Quit their job and started self-employment right away
  • 31% Found self-employment while unemployed already (complete survey)
  • For those who quit their jobs, or worked full time, it took 60% less than 1 year to become full time (40+ hours per week) with their self-employment career

The top 3 reasons why respondents chose self-employment were:

  1. 25% Wanted the freedom to set their own schedule
  2. 18% Wanted to do work they are passionate about
  3. 11% Did not want a boss

The top 5 advantages to self-employment according to respondents:

  1. 67% I am my own boss
  2. 62% I choose my own schedule
  3. 37% No dress code
  4. 36% Drama-free environment
  5. 35% I have my own work area

The top 5 disadvantages to self-employment according to respondents:

  1. 47% Unsteady pay
  2. 35% Paying own healthcare
  3. 29% Long hours
  4. 29% Financial responsibility for mistake
  5. 28% Competing with bigger, more established businesses

Effects on Lifestyle

  • 76% Agree that self-employment has improved their work/life balance
  • 66% Agree that self-employment improved family and friend relationships
  • 83% Agree that they are happier now that they work for themselves
  • 53% Agree that they are busier now that they work for themselves
  • 35% Work 31-40 hours a week, the majority work 31-50 hours per week
  • Most self-employed respondents claim to work Monday-Friday but 65% say they work Saturday and 41% say they work Sunday too.
  • 26% Miss social interactions with multiple levels of management/people

Side-gigs and Streams of Income:

  • 48% say they have 2 or more streams of income on top of their main self-employment gig
  • Out of those who have multiple streams of income, the most popular include direct selling and stocks


To learn more about how Toluna QuickSurveys analyzes real-time data from each study, check out our blog on TolunaAnalytics and its functions.


This survey was run with Toluna QuickSurveys, the leading consumer digital insights platform. The data from this survey is based on 323 respondents, and Toluna’s proprietary weighting algorithm, SmartSelect was used for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income to bring them into line with their actual proportions within the population. Toluna QuickSurveys can now guarantee a minimum of 1,000 nationally representative completed interviews – in no less than 21 countries – in 24 hours or less.

See for yourself and sign up here! Looking for more information about this real-time guarantee? Read the full press release here or get in touch with us here.

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