More and more people want to be self employed
I did an entry on this phenomenon in April based on new stats from the ONS. So lo and behold we now have a new report from the RSA (of which I am a Fellow) called Salvation in a Start Up. This is well worth reading. Today there are 600,000 more microbusinesses in existence than there was when the recession first began in 2008, and 40 per cent more than at the turn of the century. Likewise, the number of people working for themselves has shot up by around 30 per cent since 2000, with the result that 15 per cent of the workforce can now count themselves as self-employed.
But listening to much of the media, certain politicians and sadly many unions this is only because people can’t get ‘real jobs’. What ‘types’ of microbusinesses are becoming more commonplace? What has caused the large increase in recent years? And what effect are they having on the economy and wider society? In a bid to answer these, the RSA and Etsy have launched a new project, The Power of Small, which seeks to better understand this changing community. This report – the first of three – focuses in particular on the individuals involved, including why so many people are turning to self-employment and what this means for them personally.
Their research identifies three myths in particular that have so far distorted the debate: that most of the newly self-employed have been forced into that position, that the boom in self-employment is largely accounted for by ‘odd jobbers’, and that the growth we have seen in the past few years is a cyclical blip that will die down once the economy returns to full health. Their research suggests that the rise in self-employment has as much to do with structural changes in our economy and society as it does with economic fluctuations. This includes changing mindsets, shifting demographics and the emergence of new technologies.
The RSA asks a fundamental question as to whether the growth in self-employment is really a good thing for those directly involved. Should we be enabling more people to start up in business, or should we be discouraging it? Relative to others, they appear to work long hours, get paid little and find themselves cut off from the wider world. Yet their research also shows that they are more satisfied and happier overall than most other groups in the wider workforce. The reason ? “Because the self-employed often derive greater freedom, meaning and control from their work. “
In other words the same motivation that has led so many of us to pursue portfolio careers. Many people still have not ‘got it’! More and more of us do not wish to work like our parents did. That was so last century.