Self-employment boom: Good or bad?

Britain now has more people working for themselves than ever before.


As of the last quarter of 2013 some 4.3 million of us earn our own crust and are officially self-employed.

This represents a pretty stonking increase. Though there was a slight trend upwards for many years in the early to mid-2000s, the number of self-employed has increased by 573,000 since the recession of 2008-09 – a rise of 15%.

Interestingly, over 60% of this increase has actually taken place even more recently – from around the middle of 2011.

The net result is that a staggering one in seven of the workers in this country are now working for themselves.

It’s something that has passed relatively unnoticed but it is worth considering how much more negative the overall unemployment picture would have been had it not happened.

The HR professionals body the CIPD estimates that the rise in self-employment has compensated for around 40% of the loss in employee jobs.

Had that not happened we could have seen unemployment nudging three million, with unemployment for women, who represent more than half of the self-employment growth since the recession, taking the brunt of that.

And the trend shows no sign of abating – if anything it seems to be getting stronger.

Compared to a year ago the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says there are now 395,000 more people in employment overall.

Of that, some 273,000 are employees, i.e. people working for firms or public sector bodies. That means that some 150,000, or 38%, are self-employed.


By Lewis GoodallEconomics analyst, BBC News

Image courtesy Getty Images

Fast Forward to Business session 2: Market Research

The Fast Forward to Business programme continues with Market Research for your Business

Tuesday 25th February 2014, 5pm-7pm – Bowland North SR23

Sue Sharp (Sharp Marketing) presents an introduction to different research techniques, their applications, strengths and weaknesses. This will equip you to set up your own research projects to assist in the identification of your value proposition, customer segments, pricing strategy and competitors.

Book here via TARGETconnect.

For information on other workshops in this series please click here.

We are grateful to all external speakers who take the time and trouble to visit Lancaster and their contribution greatly benefits both the institution and its students.  Non-attendance by students reflects badly on the University and the student body.  If you find that you cannot attend or if you have signed up in error please cancel your place on-line immediately.  We shall contact you in the event of any problems.

Please note that events can, at times, run over the specified duration.

Photographs may be taken at this event for use in future publicity. Please email at least 24 hours prior to the event if you would not like you photo to be taken.

This activity is part-financed by the Enterprise Champion project, as part of the European Regional Development Fund.  This requires certain eligibility requirements to be met before we can confirm your acceptance onto this workshop.  For details, please contact

We will do everything we can to accommodate all eligible students; in the case of over-subscription, we reserve the right to prioritise participants who have engaged via our Start-Up Boot Camps.

Engineering YES 2014

Learn how to bring to market new inventions and ideas and win up to £3,000 in the process!


If you are a researcher (staff or student) who would like to learn more about how research and new technologies get invented, made and sold then this is the programme for you. Step into the shoes of a technology entrepreneur for three days – and learn what being an inventor and business guru is all about.

The programme:

  • develop team building, communication and networking working skills
  • find out about Patenting and other types of intellectual property rights
  • learn about financial planning and budgeting
  • discover how new inventions get financed, made, bought and sold
  • develop business planning skills
  • learn about the world of business and commerce
  • experience operating in high-pressure environments

Engineering YES is a three day residential experiential training programme (May
2014), wrapped up in a business plan competition to keep things interesting! It’s a
team event (either you have your own team, or we put them together). Teams of
researchers from Universities and industry throughout the UK work together to
develop a business plan and dragon’s den pitch on a ‘fictitious’ business related to an
engineering product or service. The Training workshops and group work imagine that
these businesses and ideas are real!

During the three days of events and training, speakers and mentors from industry and
business advise and guide teams on developing their team’s business plan and pitch.
The top team from each heat will reach the national finals in Birmingham in June for
their chance to win £3,000.

To get underway, there will be a half-day set-up briefing session in April where all
teams receive the background information they’ll need to get going in May. This will be
held at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield and will
include a tour of the facilities there.

The Engineering Yes competition is extremely highly regarded by delegates,
industry sponsors and the participating universities. The employability skills
it delivers will be really helpful for your next career move in industry or

Comments such as ‘I feel you have invested £million in my future’ are examples of the testimonies the competition receives from participants.

2014 Dates

  • Briefing Session: Wed 9 April in person at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield or via Webinar
  • Heat 1: Sunday 27 April – Wed 30 April Holiday Inn Derby-Nottingham M1
  • Heat 2: Sunday 11 May – Wed 14 May Holiday Inn Leeds Brighouse
  • Heat 3: Sunday 18 May – Wed 21 May Holiday Inn Birmingham M6 Jct 7
  • Heat 4: Sunday 1 June – Wed 4 June Holiday Inn Milton Keynes
  • Grand Final: Wed 18 June Birmingham Science Park Aston

I am interested – what should I do now?

  1. You can enter as a pre-formed team, or as an individual. If you enter with less than 4 members we will allocate you to a team accordingly. This may be with other researchers from your institution or possibly from a different university.
  2. Entry forms can be downloaded from our website
  3. Send your Application Form to Jo Gilman (

The organisers will endeavour to allocate teams places on their preferred dates, but
may need to offer alternatives if space is no longer available.

Download the info sheet here.

For further information please contact Jo Gilman:
Or visit the website:

Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards

Can you write an award-winning business plan?  Would you like to win up to £20,000 to make that plan a reality?  Read on!

The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards application process is now open. This national initiative invites applications from 72 UK universities to submit business plans from one Undergraduate students and one Postgraduate student.  The winners of the overall competition in the UG and PG categories can win up to £5,000 and £20,000 respectively.

The first step towards this is a shortlisting process by the university to identify our two institutional entries.  If you think that you have what it takes to submit a winning entry for Lancaster, then please download the information pack here.

The deadline to submit your business plan to the shortlisting process is 24th March.  A panel of Enterprise Champions from across the University will then review all the entries and select one from each category to be put forward into the competition.

All enquiries and submissions should be sent to Please ensure that you state whether you are applying as an undergraduate or postgraduate in your covering email. Business plan submissions should arrive no later than 12noon on Monday 24th March.

Fast Forward to Business launches with Sales 101

We are delighted to announce the first session in our programme of support for pre-start entrepreneurs, Fast Forward to Business

Sales 101: Self Awareness

Tuesday 11th February 2014, 5pm-7pm – George Fox LT3

Nick Harrison (a man who has stared down a rhino and lived to tell the tale) leads an introductory session on your first consideration when preparing to run your own business: YOU!

If you hate being sold to, you’ll probably hate selling; and if you hate selling, there’s a strong chance you’ll be very uncomfortable with some important aspects of your entrepreneurial responsibilities.  This workshop will help you to understand who you are and how your personality and values impact on how effectively you interact with others when it comes to winning customers and clinching deals.

Book here via TARGETconnect.

The 2014 China UK Entrepreneurship Challenge is now open

The China UK Entrepreneurship Challenge aims to encourage new business ventures between China and the United Kingdom, and is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs seeking start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The competition is part of the PMII (Prime Minister Initiative II) Connect project, supported by the British Council and the Confucius Institute programme funded by Hanban.

For further information and to register see here.

InfoLab21 Hot desking

InfoLab21 has created spaces to allow up to 20 newly-established technology companies to take advantage of being located alongside the School of Computing and Communications, as well other dynamic technology businesses and innovators. The hot-desking spaces, which are available for businesses to hire one day a week, will enable increased opportunities for networking with relevant academics, graduates and technology business-owners. If you’re working with business that could benefit, please contact Helen Boulton Business Co-Location Manager Tel: +44 (0)1524 510 409 Email:

Enterprise challenge with npower!

How do we put the energy back into energy companies?

Energy is the lifeblood of modern society and the foundation of our economic and personal wellbeing. However, the relationship between energy providers and customers is changing: from being a supplier of ‘invisible’ power or gas, we now offer energy services, products and energy efficiency measures. It is a dynamic industry making daily decisions that directly affect the economy; it’s complex and diverse, making it a fascinating place to work.

However, Energy companies are now seen as less trustworthy than bankers and politicians and stand accused of profiteering, even though the facts don’t match the media hype. We know that customer service levels need to improve and increasing prices need to be explained. Levels of trust have decreased across the industry and particularly for npower – with our customers, the general public, media and Government.

What can npower do to positively engage everyone whilst still managing to remain profitable in a competitive market?

We want you, in 500 words, to tell us ‘How do we put the Energy back into Energy Companies?’


The winning team will receive

  • £500 cash per team member
  • A paid internship with npower (£16k pro rata)
  • The chance to meet important npower employers and managers

The deadline to enter this challenge is the 10th February 2014.

More details here.

Economic Outlook: The Freelancancers’ Perspective

The growing UK economy, improved public finances and resurgent credit markets are all positive signs for freelancers – but risks to this recovery remain.

PCG’s Economic Policy Adviser, Georgios Nikolaidis, reports on the economic outlook from a freelancers’ perspective, looking at recently published statistics from GDP growth figures to the state of the labour market, credit market, investment, trade and public finances to find out how they may affect independent professionals.

On the findings, Georgios Nikolaidis, said:

“For freelancers, the macro-economic outlook should instil confidence and allow them to continue making their unique contribution to the UK economy. Rapid improvements in the labour market and prevailing skills shortages in sectors dominated by independent professionals could mean more contracts and better rates.

“It’s important to consider though that policy-makers should not be complacent – sluggish business investment, a worsening balance of trade and stagnating productivity growth should provide an agenda for policy-makers in the months to come.

“However, while these caveats are important and need to be addressed, overarching positive sentiment and rising business confidence should propel growth in the near future.”

Read the full report here
View the source article here

A fifth of adults are ‘hidden entrepreneurs’, reveals survey. Support is needed to ‘normalise’ entrepreneurship as a career path, says UnLtd

UnLtd_2012_Logov2One in five UK adults uses their spare time to grow a new business or earn some extra income – making them Britain’s ‘hidden entrepreneurs’.

The surprise findings are revealed today by the latest RBS Enterprise Tracker, carried out in association with UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

According to the survey, two-fifths of adults have a hobby or pastime that could or does provide them with a second income, and of those nearly half treat their hobby as a way of earning extra income or hope it will develop into a full-time business. These ‘hidden entrepreneurs’ – 20% of adults – are spread evenly across all regions of the country.

The survey also reveals a large ‘ambition gap’ between people who say they want to start a formal business or enterprise (38%) and 6% who actually do. Some are put off by perceived practical barriers – such as the state of the economy (41%) and where to find the cash (41%), while others lack confidence: 55% of respondents had ‘fear of failure’ on their minds while half (49%) assume they lack the skills for the job. Only 12% of people are put off because they couldn’t see a market opportunity.

Cliff Prior, chief executive of UnLtd, said: “Hidden entrepreneurs are natural entrepreneurs. These figures tell us that people want to create businesses out of their hobbies, passions and interests – which is where many social entrepreneurs start – but don’t feel they have the support or confidence to do so. As a nation we need to get far better at nurturing our entrepreneurial talent and normalising entrepreneurship as a career path from an early age. At UnLtd we know that trying social entrepreneurship can give vital life skills for the future.”

Thom Kenrick, Head of Sustainability Programmes at RBS, said: “We’ve believed for some time that lots of people are undertaking enterprising activities without associating themselves with being an ‘entrepreneur’. This research shows there is an untapped potential right across Britain of people who could be successful in business. Through Inspiring Enterprise, RBS is working with organisations right across the UK to help more people, in more communities, release their enterprise potential.”

The quarterly RBS Enterprise Tracker, conducted last November by Populus on behalf of RBS Group, measures people’s attitudes towards starting up their own business or social enterprise. The poll interviewed 3,789 people.

The survey also shows that people’s appetite for social enterprise remains strong, with 20% of those who would like to start their own business saying they would choose to set up a social enterprise. These people are more likely to think that business training would be most helpful in setting up their own business than the population generally (27% compared to 20%).

Read the full report of the survey findings and the summary report here