Business development · 20 April 2017

Micro firms and freelancers well-placed to weather economic uncertainty

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Businesses with less than ten staff are more confident about the future

Micro business owners and freelancers are more optimistic than most UK business leaders amid fears and general economic uncertainty, new research has shown.

In the face of general economic uncertainty – conditions brought on in part by hyperbolic Brexit commentary – the owners of businesses with fewer than ten employees are more confident about the growth prospects of their business in the next six months than those at larger UK firms.

A survey, conducted by FreeAgent amongst 700 UK micro business owners and freelancers, found that 64 per cent predicted that their business would grow within the next six months, while 91 per cent believed they’d still be in business in a year’s time.

In contrast, only 1 per cent of micro business owners and freelancers said that they did not expect to still be running their business in 12 months because of the economy.

This comes despite just one in ten micro business owners and freelancers expecting the UK economy to improve over the same period. In the survey, 50 per cent of respondents revealed they expected the economic situation in Britain to worsen, while 28 per cent anticipated little change.

FreeAgent co-founder and CEO Ed Molyneux said the survey demonstrated the bullish nature of micro businesses and freelancers. “Around 95 per cent of the UK’s total number of businesses are micro firms, so the more confident about their prospects they are, the better it is for the whole country,” he said.

“Evidently the UK’s micro-business sector is proving its resilience, with a significant number of business owners planning to grow their ventures in the coming months.

“The fact that the overwhelming majority also expect to still be trading in a year’s time shows that they are confident in their ability to weather the storm.”

Recent research from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) found that Britain’s freelance workforce has increased by 43 per cent since 2008, adding £119bn to the economy in total in 2016.

Commenting on the contribution of freelancers, IPSE CEO, Chris Bryce, said: “At a vital time when the economy needs to be dynamic in the face of growing uncertainty, freelancers are providing on-demand resources to businesses allowing them to be flexible in response to change.

Britain’s freelancers call for a statutory definition of self-employment

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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