In the last quarter the UK has seen a significant increase in the number of people who are going into self-employment. Between January and March 2014 alone, employment rose by around 283,000 and of these people, 65% are self-employed. Wave-length has therefore decided to look at what is making self-employment so attractive to people.
There has been much discussion over the past few years about the reason for this all-time high. Perhaps it could be the people’s response to the recession as it has been shown that since the recession started, the rise of self-employment has continued to grow whereas the growth in employee jobs has been poor.
The Bank of England has suggested that part of the reason for this rise in self-employment is due to “benefit caps, changes in pension entitlements and rules surrounding access to in-work benefits.” It is impossible to pin point this as the sole reason for more people wanting to be self-employed, but since the benefits cap started in July 2013, a significant increase has been noticed.
This graph from the NEF blog shows the dramatic increase in self-employment over the last quarter. (http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/latest-labour-market-stats-whats-behind-rising-self-employment)
Another factor that we need to consider when looking into why more and more people are wanting to go into self-employment, is the technological development the world has seen, and it is only going to keep growing as new and more advanced technology is being released. An interesting quote that supports this theory is from Emma Jones, who is the founder of Enterprise Nation. She says, “People are not starting up out of necessity through lack of jobs, they are responding to new opportunities that technology brings and this will only increase as the number of well-paid jobs begin to decline.” After speaking with some entrepreneurs, Wave-length found that they too said the way that technology has developed has enabled them to start up their own businesses from home. One person explained that they took early retirement due to increased disability, but found it hard being without a job. So they decided to start up their own business and now work from home, exporting their manual handling slings all over the world. They made a point of saying, “Thank goodness for the technology.” Technology has made it so easy for anyone who is looking to set up their own business as the majority of important documentation and liaising can be done online, in the comfort of their own home. So not only does this make it easier for people to start up a business at home, those who have disabilities are also able to continue with their careers from home and without the stress of dealing with travelling to a workplace and any discrimination they might face.
When you think about it, it’s clear why people with disabilities want to go into self-employment, especially when many have to face discrimination when attending job interviews. Some employers will see a person with a disability and instantly doubt their capabilities. One person told us, “I was tired of going into an interview and not only having to prove that I had the necessary skills for the job, but that I could do the job DESPITE my disability.” They then went on to tell us that they had been rejected for many positions that they were more than qualified to do, purely because of their disability. But luckily the discriminators have not put a stop to them working. The disabled community has come together and proven that no matter what the circumstance they can achieve the same things anyone else can, and have even come together by helping each other with their businesses. And what better way to prove a point than running a successful business even though some employers doubted their abilities just because of their disability.
Wave-length, through its projects and workshops to help people who face social challenges learn about self-employment, have spoken to many people about their disabilities and how, if at all, it has affected their entrepreneurism. It has been made very clear that even those who are disabled or have a disability can set up and run a successful business of their own. Although some people have had to leave the workplace due to their disability and inability to travel to work on a daily basis, they have inspired their communities by becoming entrepreneurs and proving that even with a disability, self-employment can be achieved by anyone who works hard at achieving their goal. One person told us about their experience with setting up a business from home; having been diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder and struggling with decreased mobility, they decided to work from home, helping other disabled people with computers and showing them how they can build a business of their own. Those who were self-employed and had a disability also expressed that it made living with their diagnosis easier. For example, they could schedule medical care as and when they needed it, opposed to having to take an un-paid days leave due to working for an employer. More importantly they know their own capabilities and they do not need to prove anything to anyone.
Wave-length tracked down some people in Shropshire who are self-employed and asked them some questions about their own personal experiences with being an entrepreneur. From the people we asked, the main positive aspect about self-employment, was the sense of freedom they get from working for themselves rather than for an employer. They talked to us about the benefits, such as flexible opening hours and that they could re-locate their business if they so wished. As well as the fact that they created a business from something they love to do.
The positives to self-employment are great to hear but here at Wave-length we want to know what we can do to support entrepreneurs. So we asked some business owners if there could be more support given to those who wish to start up their own business, and what support this would be. There seemed to be a pattern amongst the answers as the majority said that there could be more advice and support with understanding the financial side to starting up a business. Wave-length is aiming to provide workshops based around self-employment which will help support entrepreneurs and guide them on the best route to take and what needs to be considered. From the people we asked, 100% said that they would have gone to a self-employment workshop, had there been any available to them at the time.
When asking if there was any advice they would give to people who are setting up their own business, we received comments such as, “Make a proper business plan and don’t rush into anything” and, “Be careful and do your research.” The workshops Wave-length plan to provide will help entrepreneurs make sensible and informed decisions and work through their concerns. As well as the opportunity to talk to other people who are experiencing similar problems or worries about setting up a business of their own. We then asked what the hardest part of self-employment was. One person responded with, “Keeping track of the hours and cost of everything.” Another said, “Doing everything for myself.” This suggests that a workshop on time management would be beneficial. Wave-length appreciate everyone who speaks to us about their experiences or concerns as it helps us to create workshops that are relevant and will provide good support and advice for those who seek it.
It is clear that the growth of self-employment has not gone un-noticed. How can it when since the end of 2008 self-employment has accounted for around 68% of new jobs created within the economy. It was even mentioned in the Queen’s speech this month, where a new bill has been created: ‘Simplifying the NIC’s (National Insurance Contributions) paid by the self-employed’. It is positive that we are seeing things be put into action to support those that want to be independent and start up their own business. Self-employment is something the entire nation is expressing an interest in and we at Wave-length will continue to support it.