HR · 17 February 2017

Millions of Brits secretly aspire to be self-employed

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One in seven UK workers aim to become self-employed at some point in their lives

One in seven UK workers aim to become self-employed at some point in their lives, with as many as 12 per cent of those hoping to take the leap within the next six months.

New research, from challenger bank Aldermore, also revealed entrepreneurship to be a lifelong dream for more than a fifth of the workforce, with 22 per cent of people citing it as a personal ambition.

For the majority of workers wishing to become self-employed one day, the dream is a long way off from becoming reality. In a survey, a quarter of current employees admitted they would only consider self-employment once made redundant from their current job.

For a further 20 per cent, unhappiness in their existing role would be enough for them to set up on their own.

Despite many people’s longing for self-employment, the data, compiled by YouGov and published by Aldermore, confirmed some of the concerns aspiring entrepreneurs have about how hard self-employment can be.

Even though 93 per cent of those currently self-employed enjoy being their own boss, and 83 per cent feel “in control of their own destiny”, the downsides include financial insecurity, irregular working hours and greater stress to do with the survival of the business.

“Taking the step to become self-employed is a brave and bold decision and we love the fact that in the UK more and more people are doing so.”

Commenting on the statistics, Aldermore’s managing director for mortgages, Charles Haresnape, warned aspiring entrepreneurs to understand the risks of self-employment. “We know that whilst it can open the door to many amazing opportunities, self-employment can be a risk, with uncertainty and financial instability from startup,” he said.

Reasons for becoming self-employed

The research revealed money to be the key driving force behind people choosing self-employment. Some 37per cent of aspirational entrepreneurs surveyed saw an opportunity to earn more money in self-employment, rising to almost half of workers aged between 25 and 34.

Being able to improve work-life balance was also cited as a top reason, motivating 35 per cent of workers in the survey.

Some 50 per cent of those workers who are already self-employed revealed when asked that they have not been able to earn more money since starting out on their own, confirming that the reality of self-employment can be different for many.

Issue Proportion of aspiring entrepreneurs concerned with the issue Proportion of self-employed experiencing the issue
Irregular source of income 32 per cent 55 per cent
Difficulty paying bills 25 per cent 18 per cent
Inconsistent cash flow 24 per cent 41 per cent
An irregular volume of work 18 per cent 52 per cent
Not being paid by clients on time 11 per cent 44 per cent
Difficulty securing a mortgage 11 per cent 10 per cent

 

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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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