Here we meet again with another bundle of fresh business and entrepreneurship news before you! Today, we will look into three major success stories: one regarding a multi-billion app coveted by younger millennials, the second about a particularly resourceful UK town, and the third dealing with a sensational success story from an ex-city worker. Lastly, we look into the most common ailment known to all freelancers: unpaid work, linked inextricably to flaky, non-paying clients. We hope you enjoy the reads!
When Evan Spiegel created Snapchat with his Stanford mates in 2011, little did he know the app was going to become one of the most popular platforms for teenagers and millennials worldwide, currently counting more than 100 million users and weighing between £16bn-£20bn. Apparently, Spiegel was wise to turn down Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s offer in 2013 to sell his company for $3bn. Today, rumor has it that Snapchat is filing to list on the US stock market, as several reports claim Snapchat representatives have made a confidential application for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Thanks to six local enterprise partnerships, Birmingham can now boast about providing specialist growth support to local businesses via the Midlands Engine for Growth project – a fact that had earned the city the flattering title of the most enterprising city in the UK. The numbers are impressive even without taking into account the current unfavourable economic and political circumstances, as the project yielded support for around 1,000 businesses, generating £87 million in private sector investment and creating and/or maintaining 4,300 jobs. Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy said: ‘Birmingham is fantastic place to do business and this award shows that when we work together and invest in people, the city really can thrive.”
Patrick Dudley-Williams is a former City worker who never dreamed his getting fired in November 2012 was going to be the beginning of a life-altering, now almost £1m worth of journey. The timing couldn’t have been worse to lose a job: with twins on the way and a young family, Dudley-Williams was sacked after 13 years of working in the City. So he started designing – ties. What was born out of despair is now known as the brand Reef Knots, marked by a unique style of ties featuring funky images meant to, in Dudley-Williams’ words, “remind you of life as far away from the corporate world as possible”. In liaison with his business partner, Dudley-Williams managed to raise £20,000 via Indiegogo and open Jones 01 a shop in the City. ‘We’ll probably hit turnover of just shy of half a million this year, and we’re growing at about 100 per cent a year online. “, said the audacious entrepreneur, who also admitted he would never had had the courage of starting his own business had he not been given the boot a couple of years back.
It’s a frustration to which almost every single freelancer is acquainted to, or has been at least once: working for free. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) and The Freelancer Club recently conducted a survey among 946 respondents that revealed freelancers “spend an average of 31 chargeable days in the past two years on assignments without pay”. 86 per cent confessed they had worked for free in the past two years, with 45% of them finding themselves without enough money to cover work-related costs, and consequently left with a negative balance at the end of the month. Four in ten were competing with other freelancers willing to work for free, which only further devalues professional freelancing services. It is therefore of little surprise that in 15 years, the average earnings of UK freelancers have fallen by about £60 a week.
We hope you found our weekly selection of news interesting and inspiring! Things are rarely what they appear to be, as the Reef Knots and Snapchat stories goes to prove. You don’t have to get fired to try out your entrepreneurial luck (or better yet, savvy) – or sell your business to the first bidder! Just make sure you don’t get double-crossed, as the number of unpaid working hours put in by freelancers is a reminder that unfair business practices still flourish. Lastly, we tip our hats off to Birmingham, a city that has become the perfect embodiment of the maxim “Unity makes strength”. May they be an example to us all!