Kevin Horne - Self employment, to dream the impossible dream

PUBLISHED: 16:49 18 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:49 18 February 2013

Kevin Horne, chief executive, NWES

Kevin Horne, chief executive, NWES


Since the start of the recession there has been one major growth sector which has largely gone unnoticed – self employment.

With an increase in numbers of 10pc, compared to a reduction in employment of 2pc, self employment is definitely on the rise.

It is rather disappointing though that this success story has attracted more negative media than positive.

There seems to be a pre-disposition to assuming that people have been “forced” down this path rather than accepting that it is usually a positive decision to run your own business.

I would argue that few people embark upon self employment for anything other than a desire to be in control of their own destiny.

Choosing to run your own business is not an easy option as it will involve many sacrifices and risks in pursuit of your goal. However it brings with it rewards that someone who has only ever worked for someone else will never realise.

Making the leap into self employment is not easy and is not to be underestimated. In the early stages you are likely to earn less than you would do in paid employment, will probably accumulate more debt and have less certainty about your future.

So why would you do it?

Set against these disadvantages are the knowledge that your future is in your hands, the potential to be successful is infinitely greater, you set the rules and there is no boss to accommodate – other than yourself.

Most people who become self employed never return to employment, which demonstrates that this is a positive choice with real benefits.

In an area such as ours we have few major employers and thus are reliant on “growing our own” businesses to ensure a healthy economy.

Having a high number of new businesses is important as it encourages a higher level of churn which in turn produces a more innovative business structure and is a key element of increases in GDP. The future of our local economy will not be dictated by a few large employers or an influx of foreign owned factories, but will be driven by the cadre of high quality small businesses which start up and thrive when given the correct support.

Indeed this very premise is why Future50 was created.

Given that self employment is a growth sector, and that in our part of the country we are more reliant on small business, is central and local policy meeting this demand?

The simple answer is No. In many ways policy is still influenced by industrial thinking harking back to the 1970’s and with few people in authority having the experience of starting up a business this is a neglected area.

As an example we spend more on repairing pot holes than we do in encouraging and supporting small businesses.

Working for yourself is an immensely satisfying choice and with research showing that those who are given a helping hand in the early stages grow quicker than average, are more profitable and employ more people, I would like to see coherent national and local strategies in place rather than relegating it to a formulaic afterthought.

Future50 is designed to showcase the very best in local business talent, stimulate growth and encourage others to emulate this success. This is why NWES is proud to be the lead sponsor. Self employment is not for everyone, but for those who wish to explore this avenue it is crucial to seek advice and training at that initial thought stage. As the countries leading enterprise agency, NWES is here to provide free, impartial and independent support to you. Perhaps it is time to add your name to the roll of over 600 new businesses a year which start up and thrive with our support. Next year you could be part of the Future50.

Kevin Horne is chief executive of NWES and lead sponsor of the Future 50.

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