“It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
With traditional employment opportunities relatively thin on the ground these days, the nightmarish image of accomplished graduates slowly rotting behind shop counters as silverback professionals cling desperately to their office chairs looms large in the public’s imagination. Many of us seem to be consumed with a defeatist attitude towards our prospects in the job market. Some of us are concerned with finding ways of circumventing it altogether.
Comprised of freelancers, entrepreneurs, buskers, bargain-hunters, temps and others beside, this savvy strain of homo sapiens is starting to inhabit the deepening cracks which so riddle traditional society with growing confidence and in growing numbers. Recent statistics released by the government suggest that self-employment in Yorkshire and The Humber now stands at 12.4%, contributing to record overall UK self-employment figures of 4.1 million or 13.42%, whilst specialised freelancing websites are reporting considerable increases in the financial rewards enjoyed by freelancers over the past year – with freelancer.co.uk claiming figures showing “a 70% rise in earnings from the self-employed using the site during the last two months of 2012, compared with the same time in 2011.”
Opportunities seem to be surprisingly widely available for those looking for work through occasional employers then, especially when you add the admittedly murky prospect of temping into the equation – a model of employment which has seen your correspondent incarcerated in sorting offices and school kitchens over the past year or so. Some entrepreneurial spirits however, are going even further, taking the bull well-and-truly by the horns and launching business ventures of their own. The range of ventures being undertaken nationwide and even locally spans practically the whole gamut of business ideas, from creative industries to ebay-merchantry, sweet shops to theatre troupes.
One prime example of the breed is Soundsphere magazine founder Dom Smith, an award-winning York-based wordsmith whose publication has come out in print to broad acclaim and garnered thousands of followers online. When quizzed on York’s prospects as a base for start-ups, Dom ventured: “There are so many inspiring people, and there are a lot of opportunities. York’s a really good city for start-ups as there are lots of people emerging” – strong affirmation from a man who’s essentially a living proof that local innovators can find success. He’s not alone either. Local promoter Chris Marks of Messy Life Promotions told us earlier today that “From personal experience, freelancing is the way forward! I’ve only put on a handful of gigs but doing it myself has always proven to be beneficial, as long as promoting and marketing are used wisely.”
Local buskers like David Ward MacLean (who’s been doing it for years) and Jonny Gill are continually topping up their finances off their own bats on the city streets, whilst media companies like One&Other cohorts Abraxo are putting bread on their tables through fighting for film and photo commissions. With the above examples in all their variety, we’re only scratching the surface.
It’s a brave step, going it alone. However, you need only take a good look at the city you call home to take heart that it’s becoming an increasingly common and fruitful step too.