Since the recession, the number of people becoming self employed in the UK has grown significantly and now stands at the highest level in 40 years!
More and more people are going it alone regardless of their circumstances…
Setting up a business has never been easier, aided by new technology and commercial web platforms, which are helping to widen access to entrepreneurship.
Today, being self employed provides the best option for many people seeking to run their own business, and it doesn’t have to involve renting offices and employing teams of people. But that’s not to say there aren’t challenges.
Trades people such as Plumbers, Electricians, Joiners, Painters, Builders and the new wave of self employed professional service people (insurance, finance, energy, utilities, business coaches etc) could be too easily overlooked. But according to a recent FSB report (Federation of Small Businesses) things have changed.
Out of the 5.4 million businesses operating in the UK, a massive four million of them are individuals going it alone. Around 15 per cent of the UK workforce is self employed, compared with eight per cent back in 1980.
It is clear that the self employed represent the engine room of the economy, and are the hidden heroes that generate growth and wealth throughout the country. But there are many challenges, which need to taken more seriously.
Benefits of self-employment
- 39% of self employed people say the biggest benefit is independence at work, with 79% saying this is one of the top three benefits.
- 24% of self employed people say that being better able to balance work and personal or family life, is the biggest benefit with 61% ranking this as one of their top three benefits. Women entrepreneurs (28%) were more likely than men (22%) to say this is the biggest benefit. However, not all respondents feel the same, with some arguing instead that maintaining a good work-life balance is a significant challenge.
- 18% of the self employed say the opportunity to fulfil a personal vision is the biggest benefit, with 51% ranking this in their top three benefits. Similarly, seven per cent say that ‘having the opportunity to achieve something and get recognition for it’ is the biggest benefit, with 38% saying this is one of their top three benefits.
Challenges of self employment
- Most respondents suggest the biggest challenge facing the self employed is not having certainty or security of income. 18% say that ‘not knowing how much income I will have from month to month’ was the biggest challenge, with 44% ranking this as one of the top three challenges. Similarly, 17% of respondents say not getting paid if I fall ill or have to take time out of work for personal or family reasons is the number one challenge, (44% listed ranking this as one of the top three challenges).
- 18% of respondents say that finding and securing new business is the biggest challenge facing them, while 41% place this as one of their top three challenges. 6% believe that being reliant on a small number of clients is the biggest challenge, with 23% denote it as one of the top three challenges associated with self-employment.
- Earnings among the self-employed vary significantly. 32% of our survey respondents say they usually earn more than £2,000 a month. By contrast, 41% said they earn less than £1,000 a month, while 19% earn less than £500 per month.
- Nearly two thirds (60%) of respondents say that since becoming self-employed they have experienced extended periods, lasting two weeks or more, when they have not been earning.
- 31% of self-employed people have relied on the financial support of a partner or spouse, due to not earning from self employment, while 20% have turned to a wider group of family and friends for financial support.
Savings and pensions
- Less than a third (31%) of our survey respondents said they were saving into a private pension. 27% are planning to rely on their business to fund their retirement, while 20% have other savings and investments which they intend to put towards their retirement. 16% have property investments, such as buy-to-let properties. However, 15% of respondents would appear not to have any savings to fund their retirement.
As with operating any business, the FSB research clearly shows that being self employed is not easy, with many visible and invisible challenges. And, at the same time it can be extremely rewarding and can provide a positive work life balance. But one thing is for sure, it takes a great deal of hard work, sacrifice, commitment and a certain degree of educated risk to be successful.
At MY Total Office Solutions, we remember when we started off in business, some 14 years ago. We began in a small shop (in the Rossendale Valley) selling printer consumables, and yes, we were self employed. We know it’s tough and it took us many years to establish ourselves on a stable financial footing, with a clear vision of where we are heading.
It’s important for us to recognise how financially tough life is for the self employed, and we believe that the self employed need some extra financial support from ourselves. So, we have launched a new printing service ‘Self-Employed Infinity’, which will provide a self employed person with the latest multifunction wireless printer, unlimited ink cartridges and a fix or replace support service for just £12.49 plus VAT a month.
This is a 38% saving against our normal business infinity package and will save then at least 60% against their current printing costs. We recognise the self employed, have not yet got multiple employees, don’t print massive amounts and need to account for every penny that they spend.
We have many self employed people as existing customers, some of which have signed up to our Infinity printing solution. Have a watch and listen to Billy Sagar who runs B. Sagar Painting & Decorating and Paul Whitfield who have a Business Coaching business, to understand how our Infinity printing service can help you.