Get ready for the self-employment boom

Get ready for the self-employment boom
5th June 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic has already had a significant impact on the British economy.

But here’s the good news: it won’t be all bad. Many will finally seize the opportunity to go it alone and start their own business.

There is a perfect storm in the job market right now. A quarter of the UK workforce is furloughed – some are bored, many are worrying about skill fade. There is very little job security out there. A recession is looming. And government money will peter out in a few months’ time.

It’s a very challenging time for many and, soon, they will start reviewing their options.

Within the next three months, I predict that there will be a boom in those starting small ventures, starting up as sole traders, or making their ‘side hustle’ their main source of income.

History shows that self-employment tends to rise during times of uncertainty. In the five years following the 2008 recession, the number of self-employed people in the UK rose by 10pc. The CIPD estimated that around 40% of those who lost their jobs during the downturn started working for themselves.

I’m excited and heartened by the entrepreneurial spirit and determination that I’m seeing in my community. Many enterprising people have already started ventures that meet the specific needs of locked down consumers. Businesses like Tal’s Cookies make homemade cookies delivered fresh to your door in Leeds and Tash’s Pasta, which delivers homemade fresh pasta recipe kits to your door. It launched on Instagram in May and is already ramping up, delivering to homes within reach of the M25 and M45. My son, Joseph, recently started an online t-shirt shop to support Living Potential, the care farm he worked at before lockdown forced him to shield at home.

This boom in micro business needs to be encouraged. The people starting up today are innovative and enthusiastic, breathing new life and diversity into countless industries. Consumers will benefit from the wider choice and competition in the market. These new entrepreneurs may also end up employing people of their own in a few years, generating real value for the economy.

Back in 1990, I started a bread business with the help of the government’s Enterprice Allowance Scheme, which gave out grants of £80 a week to help young people get started in business. That’s £183 in today’s money. Without that lifeline, I may have struggled to reach scale. Kroustie European Bread grew to four locations, supplying gourmet food stores, Restaurants and Hotels.

The Prince’s Trust now has an incredible funding programme to help young entrepreneurs but more needs to be done to help people of all ages make the jump into self-employment. The government should offer a small amount of financial support to help people start a business. I would call it: the Get Started Scheme.

The government could also do a lot of good by creating a nationwide campaign to help spread the word about the sheer breadth of skills and trades that are out there. This is a time for people to upskill, try a new trade, and turn their hobbies into money-spinners.

These are worrying and uncertain times. By taking your livelihood and career into your own hands, you can take back control. I’ve never regretted working for myself, and I welcome this self-employment boom.

Long may it last.