Self-employed? You’re right on trend!
If you find yourself thinking about quitting your job for a life of an entrepreneur, you’re right on trend. It’s not just fashion that goes in and out of style these days. Apparently, we’re now drastically changing the way we work as quickly as we freshen up our wardrobes. That’s what recent research shows on both sides of the pond, anyway.
Studies in the United Kingdom reveal that more people are trading in the traditional route for the self-employed path than ever before. While in the United States, side hustles in addition to their 9-to-5 jobs are all the rage as a great way to incorporate a passion and supplement an income.
Three years ago, I became the latter, juggling my full-time job at a PR firm with my blog and freelance writing gigs for a creative outlet and extra cash. It was a way to get my feet wet before taking the very scary plunge into full-time freelancing. But, I’ve never been happier, and I’ve never looked back, either.
The reasons for this? Well, advances in technology have made communication internationally easier, cheaper and faster. In turn, business and the workplace have become more competitive – especially in a down economy, forcing people to reconsider their work style in order to avoid unemployment or a setback in pay.
And, notably, the influx of millennial experientialists in the workspace has shown an unprecedented correlation with jobs accepted and roles fulfilling personal goals.
These changes have certainly made self-employment more attainable and job juggling more appealing. Considering these factors and additional research findings below, acting as your own boss and/or acting as a ringmaster of multiple jobs could mean the new normal.
London’s Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, known today as the RSA, carried out research into the recent boom in self-employment in the UK. Tom Hodgkinson, the man behind the literary and philosophical magazine The Idler was asked to speak on the subject in a recent meeting.
The RSA’s research suggests that Brits are in the middle of a new boom in self-employment. There are now nearly 5 million self-employed people in the UK, and at the current growth rate, the sector will likely outgrow the public sector by 2017.
Hodgkinson says that leftie economists like conference delegate Will Hutton, and Economist hacks as well, suggest that the self-employment boom is born out of necessity.
“Big companies sack people and workers are forced out on to the streets to eke out a precarious living as some sort of freelance operator. Wealth comes from big companies, not small ones,” Hodgekinson explains. “The best thing, they say, is to get people back into full-time, lifelong employment. That is also the view of the trades unions.”
But, what the utilitarian economists miss in their analysis according to Hodgekinson, however, is the desire people have for fun and excitement in their lives.
There is a need to get together and help each other in this new work age, a sort of guild of the self-employed, or a guild of the small business.
Hodgekinson recommends that those interested in trying the startup work style go ahead and join the excellent Federation of Small Businesses. It costs £150 a year, but it is well worth it for the legal advice and documents that they’ll supply. There is also a course available on The Idler specifically geared toward creative people who want to go into business or who have recently started called Business for Bohemians.
For Americans, it’s a slightly different, but still similar, story. In the early 2000s, self-employment was on a rapid ascent in the United States, according to CareerBuilder’s EconomicModeling.com:
“The number of Americans working on their own — those who consider themselves self-employed, not just freelancers doing side jobs — increased 4 percent annually from 2001 through 2005, and then grew 2 percent from 2005 to 2006.
But then the early signs of the downturn began to appear, followed by the financial crisis and Great Recession, and self-employment growth came to a halt. New jobs of any kind became scarce, and even when employers started hiring post-recession, self-employment didn’t recover. Only since 2012 has there been positive growth, albeit slight.”
The future could see stronger self-employment gains as illustrated by a report on NewGeography.com. As the baby boom generation reaches retirement age, research shows the likelihood that many former employees will turn to self-employment in order to increase their incomes.
Additionally, New Geography.com suggests that increases in global competitiveness could continue to reduce establishment sizes and encourage greater self-employment. Stronger business regulation, including the mandates of the new medical care system (“Obamacare”) could result in stunted employment growth, or even losses, forcing more people into self-employment even if they continue to work with current employers as contractors.
The decline in self-employed jobs coincides with America’s pursuit to make ends meet with their day jobs by combining them with after-work gigs. More people are getting second and third jobs, but fewer people are dropping their day jobs completely. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 20 percent of full-time workers picked up a second job in 2013 or plan to do so in 2014.
Do you think self-employment is your calling? Or, do you it’s becoming so commonplace that your participation is inevitable? Please share your thoughts with us below!