The self-employed definition varies. It is mainly defined in dictionaries, for business purposes and for legal reasons. Some of these definitions can be seen here.

Self-employed definition by Merriam-webster

Earning income directly from one’s own business, trade, or profession rather than as a specified salary or wages from an employer.

What Does Self-Employed Mean? Defined by Ask

Being? Self employed? Means that you work for yourself instead of working for another person or a company? People who are self-employed earn a living directly from their own business or services instead of working to earn money for a company which then pays them.

What is self-employment? As defined by Wikipedia

Self-employment is the act of generating one’s income directly from customers, clients or other organizations as opposed to being an employee of a business (or person).

Self-employed definition by Investopedia

Self-Employed definitions, understanding the true meaningA situation in which an individual works for himself or herself instead of working for an employer that pays a salary or a wage. A self-employed individual earns their income through conducting profitable operations from a trade or business that they operate directly.

It is important to note that being self-employed is a different situation than simply being a business owner. A business owner is someone who owns a company but does not work with the day-to-day operation of the company. In contrast, a person who is self-employed owns their own business, of which they are also the primary or sole operator. Furthermore, there are often different taxation-related implications for being self-employed versus being a normal employee or a business owner:

Self-employed definition by Investopedia

An independent contractor or sole proprietor who reports income earned from self-employment. Self-employed persons control who they work for, how the work is done and when it is done:

Self-employed definition by the European Commission

The European Commission defines a self-employed person as someone ‘pursuing a gainful activity for their own account, under the conditions laid down by national law’. This definition comes from Directive 2010/41/EU (738Kb PDF) on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity. This is in contrast to an employee, who is subordinate to and dependent on an employer.

Self-Employed definitions, understanding the true meaningHowever, there is often a blurring of the borders between self-employment and employment. For example, self-employed workers are no less dependent economically on their work for subsistence, though paid by their clients or customers. Further, some self-employed workers perform work as entrepreneurs while being in a dependent or subordinate position.

The fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS, 7.5Mb PDF) carried out in 2010 included some questions about the self-employed. The survey used four parameters to distinguish self-employed people – especially self-employed people without employees – from employees. The parameters were:

  • the degree of dependency on only one client – a ‘genuine business’ is assumed to seek income from different sources;
  • resources that come through payment for products or services provided and not from a regular (monthly) payment like a salary;
  • capacity for hiring staff when needed;
  • ability to decide significant steps for the business.

Self-employed definition by IRS

Answer: How do you know if you are self-employed according to the IRS? The IRS defines self-employed people who are required to file self-employment Social Security taxes as:

  • A sole proprietor that conducts a trade or business;
  • An independent contractor;
  • Member of a partnership; or
  • If you are otherwise in business for yourself.

Even if you have another job where you are employed full- or part-time, if you conduct business that classifies as self-employment income you may still be subject to self-employment taxes. In other words, regardless of other sources of income, if you have income from being self-employed, you generally must pay self-employment taxes:

What does self-employed mean? As defined by Wiki answers

Being self-employed means operating a business that you own.

Self-employed definition by the business directory

Sole owner of a business; a self-employed person such as a grocer, plumber, or taxi driver. He or she directs the affairs of the enterprisebears its risks and losses, and takes the profits and benefits. Also called sole trader:

Self-Employment definition by “Answers”

Self-employment refers to the status of an individual who—rather than accepting a position as an employee of another person or organization—chooses to go into business for him or herself:

A situation in which an individual works for himself or herself instead of working for an employer that pays a salary or a wage. A self-employed individual earns their income through conducting profitable operations from a trade or business that they operate directly:

SELF-EMPLOYED LEGAL DEFINITIONS as defined in the UK by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

As a general guide as to whether a worker is an employee or self-employed; if the answer is ‘Yes’ to all of the following questions, then the worker is probably an employee:

  • Do they have to do the work themselves?
  • Can someone tell them at any time what to do, where to carry out the work or when and how to do it?
  • Can they work a set amount of hours?
  • Can someone move them from task to task?
  • Are they paid by the hour, week, or month?
  • Can they get overtime pay or bonus payment?

If the answer is ‘Yes’ to all of the following questions, it will usually mean that the worker is self-employed:

  • Can they hire someone to do the work or engage helpers at their own expense?
  • Do they risk their own money?
  • Do they provide the main items of equipment they need to do their job, not just the small tools that many employees provide for themselves?
  • Do they agree to do a job for a fixed price regardless of how long the job may take?
  • Can they decide what work to do, how and when to do the work and where to provide the services?
  • Do they regularly work for a number of different people?

DEFINITION OF SELF-EMPLOYMENT as defined in by the State of Alaska

Self-employment is the process of actively earning income directly from one’s own business, trade, or profession.  A person is considered self-employed if they:

  1. Are responsible for obtaining or providing a service or product; and
  2. Earn income directly from their own business; and
  3. Are not required to have federal income tax and FICA payments withheld from their earnings; and
  4. Are not required to complete an IRS W4 form for an employer; and
  5. Are not covered by worker’s compensation.

Self-Employed definition by 360Financialliteracy

You’ve grown tired of commuting to a job where you sit in a cubicle and do someone else’s bidding. You’ve got a better idea, you can build a better mousetrap, you know you have the knack for being in the right place at the right time, and so you’re thinking of self-employment. But how do you determine if this is a pipe dream or an idea worth pursuing?: