A few months back, I took the plunge and became self-employed. Now, running my own business, I can work on projects and develop ideas I am completely excited and passionate about. Every day, without question. Flipping fantastic.
What’s more, I can work the hours during the day I want. Total flexibility. So I can go swimming in the late mornings. Long runs at lunch on other days. I’ve based myself in all sorts of cafes around London, seeing little streets and quaint parks I never knew existed. “You're actually working?”, my girlfriend asks.
Yes, actually, quite a bit. It's seven days a week. But the key is that I have the power to shape my working hours around my leisure and family time.
I join a growing number of young people who are turning to self-employment and starting businesses. This is not just a cyclical trend, or the desperate turning to insecure and sporadic self-employment as a result of the latest recession.
It is a structural trend, with a record seventh of the workforce now in self-employment, and a 7 per cent rise in the number of under-35s in self-employment over the past decade.
Surveys shows that most of those starting micro-businesses do so for positive reasons and are generally satisfied, enjoying the flexibility and opportunity to put their own ideas into action.
To some extent, my generation faces tougher economic conditions than when our parents were our age. Younger workers now earn typically 35 per cent less than an average fifty-something. In 1974, it was only 4 per cent less on average.
The cost of housing. Tuition fees. The normalisation of unpaid internships. All have made prosperity and security harder to attain: between 1995 and 2005, average net wealth fell for those aged 25-24, whereas it tripled for those aged 55-64.
But instead of moaning, descending into ugly fatalism, twentysomethings are – positively – doing something about it. This is Generation DIY. It’s started with self-employment. Self-building homes, much less prevalent here than in other European countries, is gaining traction.
10 best home printers
10 best home printers
1/9 1. HP Envy 5532
“This is good for photos and if you do a lot of printing at home,” says Alex Hill, founder of pcwizarduk.net. “It’s easy to set up and you get the reliability of HP wireless printing, which in my opinion is the best on the market.” It comes with a free set of inks too. £89, currys.co.uk
2/9 2. Samsung M2835DW A4 Mono Laser Wireless
For anyone who does a lot of black and white printing, this is Alex’s pick; it turns out 28 pages a minute has auto-duplex so will print on both sides and you can command it from your mobile device. The toner’s cheap too. £140, amazon
3/9 3. Expression Premium XP-610 A4 Photo printer
Alex recommends this Wifi-connected colour printer by Epson for top-notch photo printing. “It also scans, copies and has duplex printing and the paper loads from the front for easy access,” he says. £90, amazon
4/9 4. HP Deskjet 2540
On a budget? This is Alex’s choice. “It has good scanning quality and wireless printing which is easy to install and use. It also has AirPrint, so you can wirelessly print from all your iOS devices (other operating systems may require an app). It’s not the fastest, at just seven pages a minute, but it’s cheap to run. £42, amazon
5/9 5. Samsung C1810 A4 Colour laser printer
For heavy colour-printing use, Alex says this is your best buy. “The number of pages printed per minute is slower than the black and white version, but it does still have the Airprint function and it’s reasonably cheap to run, working out around 3p per page.” £162, printerbase.co.uk
6/9 6. Brother MFC-J5910DW A3 Inkjet MFP
Need to print out A3 size? “This multifunction printer will serve you well,” says Alex. It has A3 duplex printing and also A4 duplex print scan and copy. There’s also a wireless function, it has Airprint and it’s cheap at roughly 1.5p per page.” £95, amazon
7/9 7. Oki MC352dn A4 Colour LED MFP
“This is the crème de le crème of printers,” says Alex. “It’s great for anyone who runs a small business from home.” It scans and copies, has WiFi and Airprint, offers excellent quality and is cheap to run, and it comes with a three year warranty. £430, amazon
8/9 9. Brother HL 1110
If space is tight, this compact laser printer will churn out black and white pages efficiently. Set up is easy and installing the cartridge is more straightforward than it looks. Take note: there’s no wifi so it has to be attached to the computer. £66, amazon
9/9 10. HP 4500
This new wireless colour printer from HP prints, scans, photocopies. It’s USP? It detects when ink is low, then proactively orders a new ink cartridge which is delivered to your door through the integrated Instant Ink service. £65, amazon
Look at the politics of young people. Generation Y, those born in the 1980s, are more likely to believe in lower taxes, lower welfare spending and deficit reduction than older generations, now and when older generations were younger.
As polling shows, they are more likely to believe social problems such as poverty are the responsibility of individuals rather than government. This emphasis on personal responsibility extends to social issues too: they are more relaxed about homosexuality, alcohol, drugs and euthanasia.
Why so much belief in individual choice and effort? A more competitive and tougher economic environment – with the rise in a flexible and globalised labour market – may have made young people believe more in the importance of their own hard work.
They may have internalised values that prevailed under Thatcher and New Labour, including independence and aspiration. Longer periods in education could have contributed too, making them believe more strongly in the importance of the link between individual reward and effort.
Fear not: this individualism need not mean a colder, selfish society. Indeed, in recent years, informal and formal volunteering among 16-34 years has increased. Rather, scepticism with state solutions show a strong dose of fiscal realism, an open-mindedness to new ways of tackling deep-seated problems and a very positive, progressive attitude. Namely, individuals themselves can change their circumstances.
So, let’s welcome Generation DIY. Self-employment is likely to rise in the years ahead as young people want to better combine work, leisure and family. This week, the President of the UK Faculty of Health highlighted growing popularity for less traditional working hours, and the Government has extended the right to request flexible working to all employees.
But young people want more: to decide – not just request – when they work. Creativity and self-expression are becoming just as important than money for employment choices. In the far future, more young people will work longer, and self-employment could well be essential in their path of gradual retirement, as it increasingly it is for today’s babyboomers.
My generation have faced tough circumstances, especially in recent years. But we’re oozing with optimism, and know that job satisfaction often comes from taking power into our own hands.Reuse content