The world is facing an unprecedented re-appraisal of economic thinking following a decade of low growth and a growing movement of people talking about being disenfranchised from any benefits of capitalism.
An event in September 2016, called ‘From Homeworking to Coworking’, we examined how the world of global corporations and the political institutions which support them are slowly, but surely, converting into a ground-swell of micro-businesses that make up a powerful economic engine for the future.
Enterprise Iain (a.k.a Iain Scott) spent a day with entrepreneurs, businesses and top thinkers to look at how the Scottish idiom “many a mickle maks a muckle” could have vast implications for the way we forge a route to a more secure wealth-creation ethos:
“During a large part of the 20th century, people spoke of a ‘job-for-life’ at a large bank, manufacturer or public body. Those days are long gone. We now find one in seven people work for themselves and by 2020, more people will work in micro-businesses than the public-sector.”
“We are finding people embracing entrepreneurship from a very young age rather than following a ‘career-route’ through large organisations. And why is this? It is because starting a business from home can be much more sustainable – and can help your personal wealth grow faster.”
“Moreover, as the public sector is whittled down through Government-spending-cuts, many people are finding that they have absolutely no option but to break out and start their own business. The challenge here is that not all of them really choose this route – but find they have become an ‘accidental entrepreneur’. We need to spend far more time supporting them.”
Dr Frances Holliss from London Metropolitan University thinks that many commentators are still stuck in the old era and have not yet recognised what is happening:
“More than 95% of UK businesses employ less than ten people. Although largely invisible and generally ignored, new research shows that these micro-businesses make a major contribution to the economy, currently providing a third of all employment and contributing just under a fifth of annual UK turnover. And they are proliferating – they grew in number by 55% between 2000 and 2013.”
She goes on to say that the new ways of working will have an impact on our everyday lives too:
“Most of these micro-businesses are, have been, or were run, at some point, from their owner’s home; this has substantial implications for the way we conceive and design our housing and cities.”
The crucial thing Scotland and the wider economy needs to understand is how the latest statistics are bearing out the size of this change. For instance; micro-businesses contribute almost a fifth of the UK’s annual turnover. Also; the amount of full-time remote workers, many of whom refer to themselves as ‘location independent’, is rising fast. This means that communities on far-flung islands off the west coast are becoming bases for workers who used to need to be in the centre of a city. According to research (Forrester), three years from now, 43 percent of the workforce will be remote.
Presentations from the day included:
• Daria Reuschke (University of Southampton) – Microbusiness and the City
• Dr Frances Holliss (London Metropolitan University) – Designing for invisible businesses
• Benedict Dellot (RSA) – Small is Bountiful
• Iain Scott (Can Do Places) – 1 in 7 now work for themselves
• Dr Frances Holliss (London Metropolitan University) – Redesigning out homes for the 21st Century working