Just last year it was found that self employment in the UK was higher than it ever has been in the last 40 years. Not only are less people leaving self-employed positions that in the past, but the number of over 65s in this area has more than doubled since 2009, reaching nearly half a million. So why is this happening?
Take a look at this handy infographic on the rise in self-employment, courtesy of the Office for National Statistics (ONS):
The Onset of the Economic Downturn
This increase is largely down to less people leaving self-employed positions, rather than more people entering these positions. So, why is this? At the onset of the economic downturn, less employment opportunities became available, which made it more difficult for people to find work. That meant that those who were self-employed were also finding it difficult to find other work.
There are concerns that the increase in the number of self-employed workers is actually a sign that the labour market is not as strong as it initially appeared. Are we really a nation of sole-traders simply looking to get by, or is it right to praise us for being a country full of entrepreneurial zeal? Those who are self-employed come in all shapes and sizes, so you can expect to find a little of both in the mix.
Falling Start-Up Costs
Let’s try to be a little more optimistic here. While it’s true that the economy was suffering and less jobs were available, were there any other reasons causing this rise in self-employment? With advances in technology, a rise in professional services and a focus on the digital economy, you can now start your own business with little to no capital.
You no longer have to worry about taking out huge loans to start up your business, which makes it much easier to realise your dreams of becoming self-employed. Not only does that make it much simpler, but it also makes it much more appealing when you don’t have to face the burden of a loan. While some people use it as a means to get by, others choose it for the many benefits it can offer.
Are There Benefits to Being Self-Employed?
Many people still aspire to being self-employed and it is easy to see why. While I understand that many people fear the financial instability attached to it, there are plenty of benefits to taking control of your career and going it alone.
People who have set up their own business tend to be happier. They take responsibility for their own future, and take control of their own destiny. Self employed people are happier about their work-life balance even though they work the longest hours – because they have more control over their time.
Forbes posted the top 10 benefits of working from home, from an employee perspective, taken from a survey summarized in the Microsoft whitepaper, Work without Walls.
- Work/home balance (60%)
- Save gas (55%)
- Avoid traffic (47%)
- More productive (45%)
- Less distractions (44%)
- Eliminate long commute (44%)
- Quieter atmosphere (43%)
- Less stressful environment (38%)
- More time with family (29%)
- Environmentally friendly (23%)
Seventy-seven percent of information workers in financial services would rather work remotely, indicating that a better work/life balance was their number-one reason for preferring to work from home.
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog
Setting up your own business can be beneficial in many way, but the main point you see again and again is that it gives you a better work/life balance. The long-hours culture in the UK is a problem, not just for workers who end up stressed out and physically affected, but also for businesses who are facing falling productivity.
So, while it’s possible that it doesn’t spell great news for the state of the economy, it can still be a good thing for those who find themselves in self-employment. You don’t face the same restrictions you do working for an employer, you have more control over when you work, you can work from the comfort of your own home, spend more time with family and avoid all the annoyances that come with commuting. Sounds good to me!