Opportunities for the self-employed

Opportunities for the self-employed

A woman wearing an apron, standing outside a shop with an ?OPEN? sign, smiling while holding a smartphone.

The opportunities for self-employed individuals are multifaceted and can be put down to growth potential in emerging markets and sectors and the impact of emerging technologies. According to the ONS, the UK has seen a large rise in the number of self-employed workers, of approximately 4.2 million individuals, which is a hefty 13% of the workforce 7 . This suggests that the freelance landscape is robust and diverse, with opportunities spanning across various sectors like construction, professional services, and healthcare.

The advancement of technology has also massively helped to expand the scope of self- employment. The internet is your proverbial oyster, allowing individuals to offer their services globally and thrive in fields that tend to be in metropolitan cities. Plus, with so many options,the self-employed can more easily tap into emerging markets and sectors that experience significant growth when at their most profitable. For instance, there have been continual rises in demand in sectors such as information and communications as well as professional services, which indicates a need for specialised knowledge and skills that don't require you to be in the office.

A breakdown of sex by location


We looked at data 2021 census to find out insights into how the sexes are represented among self-employed or freelance individuals without employees across upper-tier local authority districts in England & Wales. Notably, the data reveals a significant difference among self-employed individuals. In some areas, such as Luton, there is a clear male dominance among the self-employed population with percentages ranging from 79% male and 21% female. Barking and Dagenham and Havering follow closely with small percentages of 25% and 26% self-employed females, respectively.

In fact, in no district on our list is there a completely equal divide between the sexes, let alone women leading the charge. The only area that came close was Kensington and Chelsea, as there is a more balanced distribution, with 51% male and 49% female. This is flanked by Richmond upon Thames, Camden, and Hackney, each with 45% self-employed females.

These variations in highlight the factors influencing self-employment participation may differ between regions. For example, it's not surprising that London boroughs are more equal as it has a more diverse mix of industries. Plus, it benefits from a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem like stronger support networks, mentorship programmes and business communities, along with a likelihood for easier access to resources.

A construction worker wearing an orange safety vest and white hard hat, holding a power tool in front of a house.

Best places in the UK to be self-employed

Working from the office five days a week is no longer the norm and it's one of the biggest draws of the freelance and self-employed lifestyle. With more people opting for autonomy and flexibility in their working lives, understanding the factors that contribute to a productive and plentiful environment for freelancers is important before setting up shop. That's why we compared 50 locations across six key metrics, including freelance ability, highest paying freelance jobs, remote work opportunities, full fibre ranking, train connection score and the number of free working spaces, to find out where the best place is to begin your self- employment journey.

Salford emerges as the highest-ranking location for self-employment, boasting high scores across various metrics, including freelance availability, remote work opportunities and ample access to vital infrastructure like full fibre and train connections. Sheffield and Belfast follow closely behind Salford, offering solid prospects for freelancers with decent scores.

Surprisingly, London only features in fifth position. Despite its high ranking in remote work opportunities and freelancer availability, it faces significant challenges with full fibre. So, it's aviable option for self-employment, but you'll face some limitations compared to those up north.

If making as much money as possible is your focus as a freelancer or self-employed person, Exeter is the place to be as it scored first place on the highest-paying freelance index. This suggests that it has a thriving job market with plenty of opportunities that has plenty of gaps that need to be filled by freelancers, and businesses and organisations that are clearly willing to pay highly competitive rates for specialised skills. Milton Keynes and Nottingham flank Exeter as a favourable environment for freelancers and self-employed workers seeking a substantial income.

Self-employment in the UK is characterised by both challenges and opportunities and is a dynamic environment for freelancers to navigate. While financial instability, limited access to benefits and rising living costs remain significant hurdles for many, there are plenty of growth opportunities and many Brits have been seizing them.

As a freelancer or self-employed person, working to navigate these challenges, and importantly leverage growth opportunities, it is essential to prioritise risk management and protection in the long run.

But what is public liability insurance?

Public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance can be crucial safeguards, offering financial protection against unforeseen liabilities and legal claims. Public liability insurance covers businesses against allegations of personal injury and property damage claims made by members of the public. Professional indemnity insurance protects against claims of negligence or errors in professional services.

By investing in comprehensive insurance coverage and adopting strategic initiatives to tackle the challenges identified in this report, freelancers can safeguard their businesses and capitalise on emerging opportunities.