Why there’s never been a better time to be self-employed
If you’re thinking of starting a small business and becoming self-employed, you’re in luck. Why? Because there’s more useful technology and small business support out there than ever before. You just need to know where to look.
The Cambridge Satchel Company founder Julia Deane OBE has investigated the shifting landscape and written a report looking at how different needs of the growing self-employed workforce are being met.
Working for yourself has never been so attractive. 4.6 million people in the UK are currently self-employed, accounting for 15% of the workforce. Research conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills reveals that this is likely to be a long-term trend with over 80% of those surveyed having no plans to stop being self-employed within the next three years. Here’s three reasons why this self-employment trend will continue:
The great digital tools available
The right tech information and digital tools are essential, as they give people the confidence to manage and lead their businesses. Whether you’re making pancakes or selling skis, technology affects all areas of small business and self-employment. After being asked by the Prime Minister, no less, to investigate the issue, Deane has gained some great insight into the area, particularly around the tools you should be using.
Deane also found that most of the self-employed people she spoke to thought that the advice currently available online met their needs. But while most feel that no information is missing, Deane’s report is helpful in bringing together everything that’s available. One of the sources she found to be most useful for self-employed businesses was HMRC. They produce tax advice webinars, step-by-step e-learning courses and their YouTube channel, which provides quick and easy answers to the most common tax questions. An increasing number of large corporate firms are also starting to provide support to those thinking of becoming self-employed. O2 Business is one of them, with the O2 Gurus based in stores across the UK offering advice and tech tips to small businesses and the self-employed.
The fantastic small business support networks
In terms of additional support, there are plenty of networks and groups that have been specially set up for the self-employed. One of those is O2 Business partner Enterprise Nation, which was set up by Emma Jones to provide support to over 66,000 businesses. This includes a daily blog, weekly webinars, events such as the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs and an adviser marketplace.
The easy access to online marketing
Also captured in Deane’s report, was the surprisingly small percentage of people – only 78 out of the 697 who answered the question (11%) – who said they used the internet for marketing activity. Social media is a fantastically low cost and effective way to communicate with customers, plus raise the profile of your business.
It seems as though this is the area that small business owners need more guidance in. From crafting the perfect tweet, to deciding whether or not you should be on Facebook or LinkedIn, online marketing is now an area that warrants serious attention. Making sure your business is visible is crucial. This comes down to things like choosing the best images for your Instagram feed to making sure you know how to be found before your competitors on search engines.
Alongside the great opportunities now available for small businesses and the self-employed, Deane advises that in order to keep pace with the market it’s imperative you stay up-to-date with tech. We couldn’t agree more.