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Four big reasons why your small business is powerful

Oct 16, 2014

by Natalie Wall handmade and vintage goods

By Adam Lent


Running a small business – why does anyone bother? The hours are longer, the risks higher and the pay often lower than working for someone else.

And yet the number of people setting up their own firm keeps on growing. So what’s in it for them and, more importantly, what’s in it for everyone else? What makes small business such a powerful force for personal and social change?

1. Seizing the Power to Create

We live in creative times. A desire to turn your own ideas into reality has arguably been strengthening for centuries but now the internet is giving millions the tools to develop, share and launch those ideas.

Those running their own business are at the forefront of this revolution in mass creativity. The RSA survey of small business owners found that making the most of a good idea was the second most popular reason for setting up your own firm well-ahead of motivations like topping-up income earned elsewhere.

Etsy sellers are in a whole different league however. Another RSA survey found no less than 80% chose the chance to be creative as their main reason.



2. Living Free

Small business owners love their freedom. In the RSA survey, 87% said they had more power to do the things they wanted to do than in a typical job.

This is partly about freedom from the top down culture of big business. As one entrepreneur interviewed for the RSA study said: “when you run your own business, you’re not forced to do things by people who don’t understand the task”.

But it’s also about having the freedom to shape your life in the way you want. The hours may often be long but it’s up to you when you do those hours. The small business owner waves a cheery good-bye to the arbitrary nine-to-five convention that ignores the pressures of caring for kids, elderly relatives or even for oneself.



3. Making a Difference

The traditional image of the entrepreneur found in soap operas and on programmes like The Apprentice could not be more out-dated. A new generation of business owners want to make a difference rather than just money. 82% of small business owners in the RSA survey said the work they did was now more meaningful than when working for someone else.

Some might have a big vision to improve the lives of patients or students by transforming healthcare or education. Others simply want to produce a great product that makes their customers’ lives better. But what they definitely do not want is to get lost in the politics of big business that can sap and ultimately destroy a creative vision of a better world.

As one young entrepreneur told the RSA he has a burning desire to be an “agent of change” but it is a desire that has always been stifled when he has worked for a big organisation.



4. A Fairer Future

As my book, Small is Powerful, will argue, the way very large businesses dominate our economies is no accident. During the first half of the twentieth century, business leaders and politicians really did come to believe that big was beautiful. Giant corporations received (and still do receive) massive legal and financial favours from their friends in government. Hardly surprising then that concentrations of power and wealth have risen to levels which are now doing deep damage to the political, social and economic fabric of our world.

When small business flourishes freely without government skewing things in favour of the very big, power and resources are naturally shared out more fairly. A world dominated by a super-powerful elite where taxpayers are terrified into handing over billions to avoid economic collapse, as happened in 2008, might just begin to dissolve.

This is why the rise of small business is a genuine force for personal and social change and why the future is a little brighter every time someone decides to take the plunge and start up on their own.



About the author

Adam Lent is the Director of the Action and Research Centre at the RSA. He is crowdfunding for his new book, Small is Powerful: Why the era of big business, big government and big culture is over (and why it’s a good thing). You can back the book and bag yourself a copy here.

Find Adam on Twitter here.


  • tracystattart

    Tracy Statt from TracyStattArt said 6 years ago

    Great post. I love my freedom and I have never done well in 'proper' jobs as my mum would say. x

  • sandralagana1

    sandra from crystaljemscouk said 6 years ago

    Makes Good reading a very good article Adam, yes it gives you great satisfaction to work for youself and see the end product that you have created in your home or workshop and make money as well. I would encourage anyone to start there own business whatever path you take.

  • WoodsyWools

    ACR from WoodsyWools said 6 years ago

    Great post !!

  • deadupcomics

    Dead Up Comics from DeadUpComics said 6 years ago

    Great post and very inspiring. I've just taken this route myself and am looking forward to the future :)

  • Retrocollects

    JacQui B. from Retrocollects said 6 years ago

    excellent article and so very true -

  • caboodle321

    Lorraine Burt from WholeCaboodleDesign said 6 years ago

    Very true, there's nothing better than planning your own time, doing what you love and still making it to see all your kids plays at school. That's priceless.

  • Nirkin

    Jassmond from FairybehindtheDoor said 6 years ago

    I love the idea of being to work around my ideas, Dog walker in the daytime and working on my own at night with my own creations. (Sometimes the dog walking is so exhausting, I have to take a couple of hours break before I start on the next thing Phew...).... You cannot do that with any other job.... So yes you mix and match and the pressure can be great when you are trying to meet the bills each month. With the way the job market is at the moment, I applaud anyone who goes out on their own to survive rather than take from the Government..... After reading this article, it just inspired me even more to be on my own and get that whip out on myself now and again. Thank you for the tips.

  • sallyannlivingston

    Sally-Ann Livingston from TheNavigatrix said 6 years ago

    It is a much more personal, human-friendly way of living! My business allows me to give myself the flexibility that I need, being a creative mum. It has allowed me to carry on working and inspiring myself and others despite an unexpected chronic illness. Opening my Etsy shop was the best gift I ever gave to myself.

  • SewEnglish

    Lynn from SewEnglish said 6 years ago

    Well said!

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 6 years ago

    Great and inspiring post!

  • ClaireyOD

    Claire O'Driscoll from LittlePaintedSigns said 6 years ago

    Great Post, especially for someone like me who has only just taken the plunge!! it's good for the soul x

  • bowwowza1

    BowWowZa from BowWowZa1uk said 6 years ago

    Great article - creativity is certainly an important factor in our small business - we (Sue my partner & I) both gain great satisfaction from making our show dog leads and we are very proud of them. Cathy@BowWowZa

  • lissionetsy

    Natalie Young from lissionetsy said 6 years ago

    Great read, best of luck with the book!

  • iainwelch

    Iain Welch from LittleDogPrints said 6 years ago

    artisans rule, great post

  • b00b00b00

    Anne Coogan from Lightflightlighting said 6 years ago

    I am still working near enough full time and also running my Etsy shop.Guess which one I enjoy more?Yes I bet you got it .! Your article is inspiring,just when I was getting a bit downhearted re falling views etc.

  • theowlinthearttree

    The Owl in the Art Tree from TheOwlintheArtTree said 6 years ago

    Super words. Like a warm smile. Thank you

  • olakapla

    Ola Jean-Jacques-Kaplan from RainbowDaisies said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful article! So inspiring and encouraging! Thank you so much!

  • shadycool

    cool shady said 6 years ago

    Yeah, a small business results in happiness, fulfilment, tensionless life just like I'm having .. if u think the same and want to opt for a small business go above and share it..

  • AllEverything

    Hayley Rogers from ReallyReallyDesign said 6 years ago

    As someone who has struggled for the past 5 years as a single parent with a house to keep, my small business has been a life saver...literally! I don't know where I would be without Really Really which has managed to help support my family when traditional working hours and childcare costs would have canceled each other out. Just starting out on Etsy as i wanted to reach a wider audience and it has certainly done the trick!

  • CinnabarAndSienna

    Richard H Allsop from CinnabarAndSienna said 6 years ago

    A great article;0))

  • Cabinet49

    Cabinet49 from Cabinet49 said 6 years ago

    Great positive article! :-)

  • bagardevans

    Belinda Evans from Bagardcardsandcrafts said 6 years ago

    Small cottage industry businesses mean being able to (hopefully) earn your living doing something you love ,whilst working from home in a cosy environment you've created yourself and choosing the hours you do it , WHAT COULD BE BETTER? Sitting here at my desk , big mug of tea , cat asleep on scanner (ofcourse) surrounded by scraps of paper .....sheer blooming bliss !!! Sometimes though it can be a tad lonely so its GREAT to have conversations and contact with other artisans , and thats one of the very best things about etsy.

  • angelawickstead

    Wickstead Family from Wicksteads said 6 years ago

    All so true!

  • rachelaudrey26

    FrendziCrochet from FrendziCrochet said 6 years ago

    I love this - puts a fantastic perspective on why people try to so hard put all of their time into doing what they love!! Like almost everyone on Etsy I would love to do this full time :)

  • wicksteadseatme

    EatMe from WicksteadsEatMe said 6 years ago

    We are striving to do this full time. It is hard work, long hours and the pay less than if we were working for someone else ( at the moment / think positive ). But all the reasons above are why we are doing it and love it. :)

  • mcburneyandblack

    McBurney and Black from McBurneyandBlack said 6 years ago

    Great article, Adam and so very true. Haven't regretted it for a moment and now having added Etsy to the mix, it's even better.

  • darlingatelier

    deborah darling from PookaShop said 6 years ago

    It truly is the best job in the world , working for yourself. We really are the lucky ones :) x

  • SunUnderWing

    Victoria Lucy Williams from VictoriaLucyDesigns said 6 years ago

    Great. Thanks!

  • blueclipse

    Moneeza Khan from LotusBluBookArt said 6 years ago

    I was made redundant from my restrictive 9-5 bank job in 2012…they did me and my family the biggest favour by getting rid of me! If it weren't for that cull,I would probably still be sitting at that desk and daydreaming about opening an Etsy shop!

  • lannapants

    Bangkokpants Pants from bangkokpants said 6 years ago

    That 's true.But small business have to be quickly move more than The big company.

  • PeoniesInJanuary

    Lauren Madden said 6 years ago

    Great read!

  • canvasoftimes

    Canvas of Times from canvasoftimes said 6 years ago

    It is wonderful to do the job we love. At times the road is difficult as we need to do everything individually , but at the same time also hoping and working towards achievement in our own pace !!

  • canvasoftimes

    Canvas of Times from canvasoftimes said 6 years ago

    Good piece of information !!

  • debbycat66

    Debbie Spencer-Smith from AllThingsGoodAnd said 6 years ago

    Great post, very true, long hours but very satisfying using creative talent.

  • feltmeupdesigns

    Melanie Ann Green from feltmeupdesigns said 6 years ago

    Great article. Freedom to set my own working hours due to health issues was always one of my motivations... to be able to work with my body's own patterns has been great while I was recovering and now I am well I keep those idiosyncratic hours to preserve my health. Working for someone else kept me ill longer than I should have been . It's hard to feel you have any power when you work in isolation like many of us creatives do so it's nice to be reminded that, yes, what we do does have an impact.

  • sarahjaneantrobus

    Sarah Jane Antrobus from ButtonBeeDesigns said 6 years ago

    Great article and very true being able to do what I love and work around my children is worth the hours and hard work.

  • JadeWilkinson02

    Jade Wilkinson from JustJadess said 6 years ago

    inspiring and encouraging! Love this article

  • Ayling

    Georgina sUFFLING said 6 years ago

    Is there any chapters on how to cope with the red tape that comes with running a small business? My daughter has recently had to go into the realms of vat etc and fines the paperwork gets quite complicated and taxes high for a small cottage industry.

  • LizzieCollcutt
  • indiankala

    Manu Jain from Indiankala4u said 6 years ago

    Useful and inspiring !!!!

  • MintyCandy

    Artie from qwelqwel said 6 years ago

    Really inspiring, thank you for sharing!

  • ElementalOtherworld

    Michelle Maiden from ElementalOtherworld said 6 years ago

    Inspiring, positive article!

  • jenslittlecharacters

    JensLittleCharacters from JensLittleCharacters said 6 years ago

    Love this article! Very informative & encouraging. Thanks.

  • jenslittlecharacters

    JensLittleCharacters from JensLittleCharacters said 6 years ago

    Fabulous article. Very encouraging! It's fulfilling to be able to do what you love and actually create a small business from it too :)

  • onesixeight

    Will from OneSixEightOne said 6 years ago

    Great article

  • cozeebaby

    Kasia Styczynska-Soczka from Cozeebaby said 6 years ago

    Cannot agree more!


    Lorraine Field from LMFVintage said 6 years ago

    I had a run in with the big 'C' 7 years ago and it put life into perspective. Having the chance to spend my time doing something I thoroughly enjoy rather than just to earn money is the motivation behind what I am doing now. I adore every minute of being creative and seeking out the amazing vintage wares that former craftspeople have produced.

  • vanessacespon

    Nutopia Citizen from NutopiaLab said 6 years ago

    lovely article..wish someday quit my day job and take the chance to enjoy more time doing what I really love

  • madeincrawley

    Jamie Fisher from madeincrawley said 6 years ago

    I really like my independence and cherish my time more being creative. But if I should do this again, I would have done so 10 years ago. But again God's time is the best and I am still enjoying being creative and free with what I do especially bringing a smile to people's faces.

  • mazecouture

    Miss Ruth from AFRICANISEDSHOP said 6 years ago

    Excellent read

  • shawnpatt1

    Shawn Patt from ShawnPattDesigns said 6 years ago

    I applaud those brave and lucky artisans who have taken the plunge. Bravo!

  • papierdoreille

    Francesca Zabarella from papierdoreille said 6 years ago

    Artisans + freedom rule ! Love,

  • Mikaandbramble

    Marina B from mikaandbramble said 6 years ago

    Great article!! Thank you !!

  • patriciasmithdesigns

    Patricia Smith from patriciasmithdesigns said 6 years ago

    Excellent post. I've always believed small businesses form the backbone of a country. Not to mention the genuine, refreshing creativity put out by all these artisans! I have always maintained it to be a certain 'mindset' though. Those in employment often cannot understand the drive we self-employed have. And often, many will fail because they lack it.....or become disillusioned when things don't work quickly enough. From experience I can say that children brought up around self-employed parents gain an enormous understanding of life. Sure, we feel guilty that time is in short supply (for them) but often there is the flexibility to include them in a working day. One of the most valuable lessons I learnt was (during school holiday time mainly), if I planned a project for my children, giving them half an hour, say, to get them started, they would become so engrossed that I would have at least 2-3 hours to do my work!! Then, as a reward, we'd go out for the afternoon, have a fun time and wear them out!! After they were asleep I would then work into the night to complete my orders! They turned out fine! My daughter is now a freelance Graphic Designer, working long hours and loving every minute!

  • jolieerougee

    Emilie from WaywardKitten said 6 years ago

    Having my own business and doing a foundation degree in art at university is very hard work, but i love every second of the day- which are all spent creating of course! Its a great triumph to say that i can juggle the two! x

  • caliwhite2

    Cali White from MoonRiverGypsy said 6 years ago

    Great article and some wonderful comments. For me it's about following my heart and dreams, or to quote Joseph Campbell, "following my bliss". It's soul-living, it makes me feel good. It's great to be part of these changing times in which more and more of us are waking up to what really matters in life - creativity, meaning, connection, fulfilment coming from a place of love, and not the old paradigm of money, status and power driven by fear. I made a vow to myself to support others doing the same and only buy the gifts I need from independent creative folks. Thank you. x

  • insculpo

    Lauren from FirebrandPress said 6 years ago

    great post! So refreshing to read, and just what I needed to see today. :) Thank you!

  • claireeharrop

    Claire Elaine from ByClaireElaine said 6 years ago

    What a great article. There really is nothing like working for yourself and creating something others enjoy. Often tough but hopefully all be worth it with some hard work :) x

  • ritugarg19

    Ritz from Designsbyritz said 6 years ago

    Great article! I used to work in finance industry in high profile job, but being a mom to two little ones have given me the opportunity to love my work and follow my dreams :)

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