Self-Employment for All!

In a recent conversation with a friend, the issue of self-employment came up. I’ve previously mentioned the CYBF program and its potential to assist young people who are otherwise unemployed; it seems that the internet agrees with me.

In the article entitled “Young, free and self-employed“, Emma Jayne Jones highlights the plight of youth in the United Kingdom who are feeling lost and angry at the lack of jobs available to them. Just under a million unemployed persons in the UK are aged 16-24 (Jones, September 23rd, 2011). Slowly, people are becoming aware of the potential of self-employment opportunities:

Agyemang thinks the jobs market is making a permanent shift and that in future people who can offer their own services will be in the strongest position. The traditional workplace, she argues, is evolving and there is already a trend towards more work being outsourced. “In the changing environment traditional long-term employment can’t be relied on,” Agyemang says. “The only way to be secure is to have the skills and knowledge to create security for yourself. Entrepreneurism is the way to do this.” (Jones, September 23rd, 2011).

According to the National Household Survey (NHS), 11% of the overall workforce is self-employed in Canada (Mallet, August 21st, 2013). Self-employment is particularly strong in the creative and skilled services sectors (including: lawyers, management consulting, medical practitioners, farmers, architects, and designers) (Mallet, August 21st, 2013). Those who are self-employed are typically older, with only 1.9% of the population aged 15-24 terming themselves ‘self-employed’; while those aged 65 to 74 are 30.3% ‘self-employed’ (Mallet, August 21st, 2013). There are no doubt many variables involved in this, though in his article Mallet attributes it largely to a higher level of skills and opportunities.

There are many opportunities and support networks available to people interested in becoming self-employed – including the Young, Fabulous and Self-Employed Magazine; the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program; CanadaVisa.Com Immigration Forum; and of course, the aforementioned CYBF. Resources might also be available at your local library, community center, municipal office, or university campus.

There are also several key tips that Jones draws out in her article as starting points for those considering their own business;

Do something you are passionate about. What are you good at? What problem have you seen that needs solving? Look at your skills and experience to find your business idea. You are going to be spending a lot of time and effort on this idea, so be passionate about it.

Research the market. You may love your idea, but does anyone want to buy it? It is essential to do your research to find out if there is a market for your product or service and understand your competitors.

Write a business plan. A business plan helps you to focus your idea, foresee any pitfalls and will be essential if you want to seek funding.

Sort out the finances. Many businesses can be started on a small budget by using savings or loans from friends and family.

Build a support system. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs credit their mentors for getting them there. Seek advice from friends and family, look for a mentor in your field, or join a local business network for support.

Good luck!