New research has highlighted a worrying trend among micro-businesses: according to micro-business organisation Chorus, nearly two thirds (63%) of UK micro-business owners have been forced to work for free at some stage in their career just to get a foot in the door.
And that trend continues beyond the start up stage, with further 20% of entrepreneurs reporting being asked to work for free every month, and over half (53%) are asked annually. In terms of where the requests for unpaid work were stemming from, the main culprits were larger corporations and charities.
However, it seems that for many small business owners, working pro-bono is simply a price they have to pay. 27% of those surveyed felt that working for free was a necessary step when starting a business. “Others were less charitable with their services, with a quarter (25%) saying they would never work for free, while one in five (20%) said they had worked on free projects but thought it was unfair.”
‘Undervalued and exploited’
Jason Kitcat, micro-business ambassador for Chorus, said: “Micro-businesses are a key driver of the UK economy, keeping the wheels of innovation and entrepreneurialism turning – yet this research shows their skills are being undervalued and exploited.
“Micro-businesses employ 8.4 million people and account for 96% of all British businesses, yet too often they are being taken advantage of, on the promise of future publicity and business. Working for free shouldn’t be necessary, the time and effort of micro-businesses should be valued like any other. At Chorus we understand the importance of micro-business’ national economic contribution and we are campaigning for better protection of their rights,” added Kitcat.