Freelancers and small business
Has the time now come?
“ all the forces in the world
are not so powerful as an
whose time has come”
Victor Hugo 1802-1862
Charles Handy in his
book “the age of
Proposed the idea of the
shamrock organisation as
the way businesses
would organise in the
It’s been a long time
coming, but is now the
The growth in self
Inexorable rise this
century, Now 4.4 million
in the UK (over 14% of
Predicted to rise to 17%+
Growth driven by
75% of self employed
now skilled workers.
growth in home
Nearly 60% of self
employed are now home
Growth similar to that of
Technology has made
home working for
professionals a viable
There are some very
strong forces acting on
the labour market
causing it to disrupt.
These are each covered
in turn subsequently.
Major “push factor”
Total number of available jobs reduced
Older people lost jobs and youth and graduate
People looked elsewhere for jobs: Freelancing/Own
Large variety of self employed types:
Self employed consultants
The rise of communication and cloud
technologies has irrevocably broken the link
between work and workplaces. Enabled flexible
The rapid increase in jobs in the digital economy. It
is estimated that 4 out of 5 new jobs are now
predominantly digital. These are largely location
The establishment of a number of internet based
online markets aimed at matching skills with
employers. Some examples are summarised on the
Born between1981 and 2000. They are already born!
(aged 14-33 today!)
Estimated that they will form 50% of the workforce
Digital natives, always connected generation
Very different value set: reject 9-5 working, value
freedom, no company loyalty.
Freelancing/independent/DIY careers- fit on with
(see graphic on next slide for a summary of
4.1 Growth of
4.9 million SME’s (<250
99% of businesses in the
UK and Micro
businesses, 4.6 million
(<10% employees) 96%.
They also account for
60% of total employment
and 50% of GDP
These numbers are
growing by over 2% per
source :House of
4.2 Growth of Small Businesses
Historically SMB’s seen as sub-contractors to big
businesses or serving small markets. Bottom of the
Now seen as key driving force in the economy
leading in innovation and competitiveness.
Greater status and rewards, allied to the greater
freedom, makes this sector increasingly attractive to
the brightest and best talent
Universities are now teaching entrepreneurship and
promoting this alongside traditional careers in the
professions and corporations.
5.Importance of flexibility and agility
Increased understanding from companies that they
need an agile and flexible workforce to be able to
compete in the highly competitive global marketplace
Employers now recognise the necessity of having an
“on demand” workforce.
Pressure from employers for a new flexible
employment models are therefore to supplement
traditional career based models.
This is particularly the case for small businesses that
operate in highly innovative areas where skills sets
are often scarce and rapidly changing ( see next
This is a useful exemplar
of how skills sets are
fragmenting rapidly in
some leading edge areas
Are Freelancers right (or not) for small
models for small
All of the models have
different advantages and
So which one is best?
Ultimately each small business is in an unique
position and a different answer is right
Freelancers can offer some key benefits:
Access to wide range of scarce skills on an “on demand”
Comparatively low cost ( no overheads or utilisation risk)
Can become intimately coupled into the business
There are a number of significant drawbacks:
You have to manage them on a strategic and day to day
Dependent on a individual who can leave.
The forces now seem aligned
The recession has
caused many people to
seek alternative jobs
Millennials have very
and needs in respect of
Technology exists which
The vital importance of
small business in the
The need for flexibility
and agility to compete
The attractions of “ on
demand” skills in a
So has the time come for handy’s vision of the
Shamrock Organisation to come about?
To return to Victor Hugo’s proposition.....
.....just maybe it now has!
Long form article:
Curation of recent literature: