FreshBooks’ third annual self-employment report arrives just in time for World Entrepreneurs’ Day, which lands on August 21st every year. According to the intensive global survey of over nearly 4,000 full-time self-employed workers, 24 million people quit their job in 2018 to set out to conquer career independence. Not only is this number higher than any other year small business owners are also getting young and younger.
The age of autonomy
The first time Freshbook rolled out their report back in 2017, the average age of a business owner was 38, last year it was 35 and this year it’s 34. Alas, average annual revenue and job satisfaction have yet to yield a reliable trend as you can see in Freshbook’s chart below. Whatever these particular inclinations age into, the younger entrepreneur drift is likely linked to college degrees becoming less of a prerequisite. The last two Freshbook reports revealed that there is no discernible difference in revenue earned between those with and without college degrees.
However well the venture ends up being, 83% of respondents agreed that the decision to embark on it was in and of itself empowering, which affords them the will to embrace whatever outcome that awaits them full on. Seventeen percent of the query pool were forced into entrepreneurship because they were let go from their job. The majority (84%) of both parties choose to start a business in the same industry or field they were in when they were traditionally employed. Despite the shift from “baby-boomers to “savvy Millennials” 91% of respondents don’t take advantage of gig-economy platforms, opting instead to employ more traditional methods, like reaching out to clients procured by previous employers.
Although experts predict self-employment to be adopted by professionals in their twenties sooner than later, so far the industry is predominantly occupied by males by a significant margin. In 2017, 65% of self-employed workers were male, compared to 35% of women-this disparity is exactly the same three years later. The FreshBooks Research Team added, “Men continue to be over-represented among self-employed professionals and small business owners. This may change, however, as more women explore career independence as a response to discrimination in the workplace.”
What does it take?
Before we unpack what people believe are the fundamental requirements of running a successful business, it might worthwhile to explore some of the most frequently cited challenges; categorized by soft barriers and hard barriers. The top soft barriers include: Fifty-eight percent of respondents say that finding talent is the most difficult aspect of the entire experience, 51% finding it challenging to find customers, 35% worry about inconsistent income, and 27% have a hard time coming up with and sticking to business plans.
The hard barriers are much less extensive. In fact, there are only three that came up with some frequency: Securing the cash to invest/slashing paying off enough debt to get started, completing training, and the sting of giving up benefits.
As far as the successful magnates are concerned, there are 10 qualities for small business and self-employment success. Communication, Problem-solving, time management, adaptability, creativity, technology acumen, managing people, analytic skills, negotiation, and persuasion.
Optimistically, an efficient self-employment vehicle allows young professionals to spend more time with their family, and achieve a sense of freedom, autonomy, and fulfillment, even if managing this comes with some considerable barriers. The authors conclude,
“If there is one certainty, it’s that the tools and resources needed to overcome these barriers will only become better and more accessible in the future. So we’re sticking with our prediction that self-employment is redefining the American dream. It just might take a little longer.”