Do it yourself

PUBLISHED: 06:39 16 June 2014

Shopkeeper smiling by storefront with open sign

Shopkeeper smiling by storefront with open sign

(C) 2009 Jupiterimages

If you’re thinking of leaving your nine-to-five job to set up your own business, you are in good company. A think tank from The Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (the RSA) says that the number of self-employed people has reached a record level. It’s likely to reach five million within four years, overtaking the numbers in the austerity-hit public sector workforce; more than one-fifth of the UK workforce could be self-employed before 2020.

What’s driving this exodus from traditionally “safe” jobs? Our clients are telling us that there are several reasons: Too many pay freezes; the threat of more job cuts; much more pressure and less job satisfaction. And for people with young families, it’s not easy to work flexible hours. So it’s not surprising that people are making lifestyle choices for change.

Norfolk is a good place to set up in business. The county has a long history of attracting successful start-ups; many have gone on to become national – and international – successes. Each year the EDP selects its Future 50 (, celebrating entrepreneurs who are prepared to test their ideas and take a risk. Here are just three of the “Class of 2013”, all based in Norwich:

Car sharing: Ali Clabburn founded Liftshare, the UK’s largest car sharing scheme, helping to match would-be travellers with a driver willing to take them to where they want to go. He’s won more awards than he can fit on the office shelf.

Digital business: Peter Ballard and Tom Wood left their corporate careers to set up Foolproof, helping global brands to design better digital products and services. They’re working with the world’s most influential brands, and they have featured in the Sunday Times “100 best small companies to work for” listing two years running.

Brewery: Patrick Fisher and Amy Hancock love good beer so much that they’re making it themselves! Redwell Brewing has only been trading since October 2012 and has already won international awards for its lagers and kegged ales.

One of the biggest challenges for start-up businesses is to find a location that helps them to grow. Here in Norfolk we have “business incubators” serving a wide range of sectors. There’s Hethel Engineering Centre, for advanced manufacturing start-ups; it’s been so successful that it’s recently doubled its workspace. White Space in the historic St James Mill was launched last month for digital businesses and is already filling up rapidly. And the Centrum building under construction at Norwich Research Park will offer laboratory and office space on flexible lease terms, with a restaurant and drop-in café for networking and events.

We often hear that our entrepreneurs are the key to our future economic success. There’s never been a better time to start out for yourself.

Disclaimer: Please note that this article is provided for your information only. While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, information contained herein may not be comprehensive and you should not act upon it without seeking professional advice. Contact Murray Graham 01603 663300

Latest from the EDP Norfolk Magazine