Self-employed turning adversity into success

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Being made redundant can be a terrible experience. It is stressful, and full of uncertainty about the future. However, it doesn't have to be all bad. For many people, losing their permanent job spurred them on to greater things, as they were able to make the jump into self-employment and being their own boss.

According to insurance firm AXA, a significant portion of the 5.2 million small businesses in the UK were started as a result of this adversity. The company's research found that around 30 per cent of these firms were founded due to their owners facing long-term unemployment. That equates to roughly 1.6 million small businesses that are only here because of redundancy.

In many cases, becoming self-employed is a response to other hardships. Around 17 per cent of small businesses, for example, were started by parents trying to escape in-work poverty. Increasing childcare costs have caused many mothers and fathers to struggle to provide for their families, and self-employment is a way out of this situation.

It certainly seems to be an excellent option. AXA found that 83 per cent of the surveyed business owners described their self-employment as a success. The company attributes this to the changing, diverse nature of the UK self-employed workforce, including the motivations people have for becoming their own boss.

For example, money does not seem to be a major factor for many self-employed people. Only seven per cent of those surveyed said that becoming rich was important to them. Instead, most are motivated by the desire to have more time with their loved ones, thanks to flexible freelance hours.

There is also a much better self-employed culture, with small business owners helping each other achieve success. Some 50 per cent of new business owners view their competitors as either "friendly rivals" or "brothers in arms". In fact, only four per cent of those surveyed said they would actively work against their competition.

Darrell Sansom, managing director of AXA Business Insurance, said: "Entrepreneurs are coming from a wider diversity of backgrounds than ever before. Mums-at-home, people approaching pensionable age and those living with disabilities are all starting up in greater numbers.

"They’re giving our economy a huge shot in the arm, bringing fresh ideas, creativity and life experience to business. And with the majority telling us they are a success, even at an early stage, we can certainly see the new style of doing business works."

By Victoria McDonnell

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