Which self-employed tribe do you belong to?

Posted on Dec 8th, 2016 | News and opinion

Whatever your view on the current Government, there’s no doubt that life would be easier for micro-business owners if policymakers had a genuine understanding of the way they work.

One of the defining purposes of Crunch Chorus is to highlight the areas in policy which require tweaking, based on the needs and views of our almost 22,000 strong micro-business community. To help us shape our positive policy recommendations we have been working closely with the RSA on an extensive research project which we’ve called ‘The Entrepreneurial Audit’.

Interestingly, the RSA have highlighted in previous research that one of the reasons damaging misconceptions about the self-employed arise is that they are wrongly viewed and treated as a simple group with identical priorities and problems; one size fits all, if you will.

To counter this, six ‘tribes’ of self-employed people were identified, which the RSA feel offer a better breakdown of the varied nature of micro-business ownership. Below we detail the tribes they defined, and the estimated percentages of the self-employed community who fall into them. Which of these (if any) do you feel you fall into?

visionary Visionaries – 22%

Visionaries are optimistic, growth-oriented business owners who are usually driven by a mission and a sense of purpose. They are more likely to be younger and male, and tend to hire many employees.

classicalClassicals – 11%

Generally older, Classicals embody the popular image of the entrepreneur. They are largely driven by the pursuit of profit, and think the business is the be-all-and-end-all.


Independents – 19%

Freedom-loving, internet-dependent business owners who are driven by the opportunity to vent their creative talents. Independents are typically younger and left-leaning.

localLocals – 13%

Relaxed and generally free from stress, Locals operate low-tech businesses that serve only their local community. They earn a modest income and many are close to retirement.

survivorsSurvivors – 24%

Survivors are identified as reluctant but hard-working individuals who are struggling to make ends meet, in part due to the competitive markets they operate in. They earn less from the business, and are more likely to be younger.

dabblersDabblers – 11%

Usually part-timers, Dabblers’ businesses are more of a hobby than a necessity. A large number are retirees seeking to do something interesting in their spare time.

None of the above

As is usually the case with stereotypes, there will be some people who don’t fall into any of these categories. Some will also inevitably find characteristics from several (or even all) of the tribes that apply to them.

Anyone who has worked in politics – or even simply cooked dinner for the family – will tell you it’s notoriously difficult to please everybody, but it’s nigh-on-impossible if you don’t know who you’re trying to please in the first place.

If these sketches of the self-employed (or, perhaps, more refined versions of them) become ever more commonplace amongst policymakers, they will serve to illustrate the diverse levels of ambition, intensity, and styles of working that the term ‘self-employed’ encompasses.

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Written by Tom West

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