Recruitment News

UK has rising employment but low growth.

I am thinking I may add more of these news items in the future and although this is a bit of a plug from the freelancer website, it still makes an interesting read and a sign of the times.

A survey released to coincide with today’s ONS report about underemployment reveals that the rise in self-employment and micro-businesses has caused the productivity conundrum – the conundrum that the UK has rising employment but low growth.

The survey of 1800 self-employed and micro businesses, released by, the world largest outsourcing marketplace, found that 40% had seen small amounts of growth in their first year of business. 35% admitted that they had earned just enough to pay their mortgage.

However, of the 65% said they were confident about the future and had already seen business improving in the last few months, saying that productivity improves dramatically after an initial start up period. has also seen a massive rise of more than 300% in the number of self-employed and micro businesses registering on its site, which confirms figures from the Office of National Statistics that has seen the ranks of the self-employed increase to a record 4.1 million or 14.2% of all employed people. figures also show a 64% rise in earnings from the self-employed and micro businesses using the site in the last two months of 2012, compared with the same two months of 2011. figures also reveal another rising trend that more than a third of those registering will set up their own business and start employing other people to work for them.

“The survey found that the growth in employment has been driven by the creation of small businesses employing one person. The survey also found that in the early days of setting up a business growth is low, suggesting that as more micro businesses are set up productivity in the economy slows,” said Matt Barrie, CEO of

“It’s not just high unemployment that is driving the rise in self-employment, but it also has never been a better time to start up on your own. The numbers of the self-employed are swelling at records rates because of a combination of job insecurity, technological advances that reduce set up costs and sites such as that provide thousands of jobs and clients in one marketplace,” he said.

Case studies:

Redundant solicitor set up on own

Stephen Avila, a former solicitor, was made redundant and set up on his own. He set up Surge Digital, with the help of, an agency that helps small local firms with their online marketing.

He admits in his first year productivity was low. “The first was very tough and there were many times when I questioned whether I had made the right decision. We had only had only a handful of clients and we were running at a loss.”

But now turnover is up 300%.

Mike Cook: Tuckbox 

Mike was made redundant for the second time in this recession recently. (First by Zed Media where he worked on media planning and buying including the original Compare the Meerkat campaign) then he switched to BUPA.

He has subsequently decided to go self employed and start his own business and it will launch in the next week or so. Has a wife and three young kids, never had own business.

He used Freelancer for the design, ecommerce web development, photo editing and is going to run some research and other projects through the site. In his words he was “surprised” (read sceptical) when someone told him he could get the design and development done for under £1k via the site. He has now almost completed it for about £900. The site when it launches looks visually appealing and will be called British Tuckbox (selling British goods to expats with a yearning for Heinz, Cadbury’s etc).

Armstrong Security – Olympics security: 

Gill Armstrong – a start up that outsourced marketing needs and ended up providing 150 guards during the Olympics.

Gill was made redundant as a security officer and set up her own security businesses in Birmingham. Marketing her company digitally was crucial to its success, but local companies cost too much, so she hired a freelancer through  Such was the success that she had to supply 150 guards during the Olympics.

SEO was important to the success of her company, but as a start up she couldn’t afford the £5000 that a local company costed.

“Freelancer helped me achieve link building and digital marketing goals for Armstrong Security for less than a quarter of the price asked by local companies and professionals,”she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go digital without outsourcing to a freelancer.”

“With a very tight budget to market my services, Freelancer actually offered me the solution I as looking for…it also helped me learn most of the SEO from professionals I hired and now I have acquired very valuable SEO skills that I constantly use to stay ahead of competition”.

Gill made more than what she used to earn on her previous job in just 6 months. The Olympics led to increased business opportunities, with requests for the provision of security guards, stewards and bodyguards – Gill had to recruit 150 people to cope with demand during the period.

From City to Strumming…  

Michael Tonge, 32 from London, left his job in the city to become self-employed and set up his own business.

“Having worked in the City for many years I realised that it was almost impossible for people working in the City to maintain interests outside of work.

Square Mile Music was set up to help employers to improve employee work / life balance. The company has successfully worked with a number of high profile corporate clients in the City to integrate music lessons into the working day.”

Setting up the company wasn’t easy as despite concentrating on music, there were technical aspects to the business. In order to him to have his own work/life and free up time to focus on core activities, he outsourced the creation of an automated billing system to (where, which country).

“I was a self employed one man band but I was helping others find work too by outsourcing.”

Square Mile hasworked with a number of leading companies, including UBS, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, Thomsons, Max at Lloyds and Mills & Reeve.

One of his clients, Managing Director Howard Rankin at UBS:

“Square Mile Music took me on as a 100% ten-thumbed beginner.  Within one hour I was playing Hey Jude and after 10 lessons I have a modest repertoire and have truly got the bug.  Without making me learn a scale, my teacher, Michael, has got me playing ‘campfire guitar’ with a degree of confidence that I never expected.”

Sharon Brogden, from Yorkshire… Great British Voice: 

Sharon Brogden turned to self-employment after losing her job and is now employing others. After struggling to earn enough money to eat, living on the poverty line while she was pregnant, new mother Sharon desperately sought solutions to her predicament. She stumbled upon in an Internet chat room. “Someone messaged me to say they could listen to my voice all day and had I thought of recording audio books?

“I used to find work when I was first setting out as a voice-over artist.  It worked so well for me I now represent nearly 40 other voice-over artists and have just been asked to find the voice of the London Olympics,” Sarah says, who runs the Great British Voice company from the back bedroom of her house in Liversedge.

Background: Sharon is a powerful case study because she was also sacked for being pregnant. She was sat at home nearly nine months not being able to find work.  She cancelled anything that wasn’t essential (Sky, life insurance etc) – only ate one meal a day as couldn’t afford to eat.  During labour she had an asthma attack, lost four pints of blood and nearly died.  She was so poor, that it a friend had to pay for her internet connection.

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