So who are these microbusinesses, how can they help your bigger businesses and what are their benefits?
The European Commission’s definition of a micro-business is fewer than 10 employees and a turnover or balance sheet total of less than €2 million. Now I wish I was somewhere near turning over that much but I’m not even in spitting distance of six figures! The fact is the majority of us earn a fairly decent living, at least enough to pay the mortgage, enjoy a modest holiday and indulge our kids in a number of sporting activities. That still makes us a valuable contribution to both the economy and the functioning of our typically much larger paymaster company clients.
Last year, Lord Young, an adviser to the Prime Minister on small business and enterprise, published the government’s report ‘Growing your business’ and its statistics are staggering:-
* There are 4.8 million firms in the UK, a six-fold increase on the number of firms in the 1970s and up from 4.26 million businesses in 2008 at the start of the recession
* Of all these firms, an incredible 3.6 million are sole traders, without employees
* Although three quarters of these firms are sole traders, there are nearly a million micro firms (with one to nine employees)
* Micro firms which have increased by 40% since 2000
Writing in the Huffington Post, Emma L Jones, founder of online small business community Enterprise Nation and co-founder of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain, reports one in 10 homes ‘house’ a business and these 2.95 million home-based companies contribute an almighty £243 billion to the British economy. She argues that far from being a sign of a ‘weak economy’, it’s ‘a glimpse of the future’. Answering critics who believe this new wave of entrepreneurs will quickly return to regular jobs once the economy gains even more traction, she argues that the freedom and flexibility of being self-employed will prove too much of an attraction for most.
Micro-businesses are extremely successful extensions to big business for several reasons:
* No headcount increase
* No sickness or holiday pay to worry about
* No PAYE or national insurance payments required
* Scaled up and down according to the company’s demand
* Skill set can be carefully selected to suit certain projects
* Micro-businesses are more flexible and attuned to meeting clients’ needs
* Arguably, a higher sense of loyalty as micro-businesses often depend on repeat business and referrals
* Prices from micro-businesses, especially those that offer a service such as marketing, accounting or even admin support, are highly competitive because they don’t have the overheads of even an SME offering similar services
* Technology means they don’t have to be office-based
In the US, Forbes reported there were 22.5 million “nonemployer firms” in 2011 with average revenues of $44,000, similar to the country’s average annual wage of $45,790. Although the number of even more lucrative sole traders is on the rise with 1.6 million achieving sales of $100,000 to $249,999 (up from 1.5 million in 2010) with increases all the way up the scale to 26,744 who enjoyed sales between $1 million and $2.49 million (up from 24,945 in 2010).
Business writer and former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine Elaine Pofeldt refers to these workers as ‘solopreneurs’, a much more all-embracing and positive term than the rather patronising ‘mumpreneur’ that we have been hearing much about lately.
If you’re a big business or at least bigger than us micro-businesses and you’re in need of some additional expertise, project management or on-going support, do give us hard-working, highly skilled and extremely reliable solopreneurs a call.