Self-employed people found in six different ‘tribes’

The UK’s growing army of self-employed people can be categorised into six separate “tribes,” each with their own characteristics, according to the RSA.

So-called ‘Survivors’ are younger self-employed people who work hard but struggle to make ends meet, partly due to the competitive marketplaces they operate in.

Their income from their own business is often less than that earned by other self-employed people but, out of all the tribes, their community is the largest (24% of the population).

The next biggest tribe, accounting for about one in five of the self-employed, is the Visionaries – optimistic, growth-orientated traders who are also likely to be young.

Typically male, these self-employed people have invariably taken on employees to help them achieve what they see as their “mission,” which they approach with a sense of purpose.

Also with youth on their side are the ‘Independents,’ the third biggest tribe, known for being internet-reliant, creative and fond of being their own boss because of the freedom it offers.

They are markedly more common than the fourth largest tribe, Locals, whose members make modest money from running low-tech businesses which serve only their locality.

Relaxed and generally free from stress, they are a stark contrast to the fifth biggest tribe, Classicals, who, representing 11% of the population, are profit-hungry and business-savvy.

These older traders tend to think “business is the be all and end all,” at odds with the equally populous ‘Dabblers’ -- usually part-timers, perhaps retirees who trade almost as a hobby.

Reflecting on the tribes, the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) said it named the six after pairing data with interviews it ran with micro-businesses and experts.


5th June 2014

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