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Is the UK Becoming a Free Agent Nation?

Business Show 2013,
Me presenting to current and future free agents and micro business owners at the Business Show, London Olympia

I am fascinated and excited about the increase in business start-ups and general trend towards entrepreneurialism within the UK.

As reported by Enterprise Nation, in 2013 alone 500,000 new businesses were formed and with 4.9 million businesses trading in the UK, 12% of the working population are their own boss.

What I find even more interesting is that the image that many of us have, regarding what a small business looks like is probably quite different to the reality; many are sole traders, working from home, running their business on a part-time basis and most plan to grow through the use of subcontractors as opposed to permanent employees and costly overheads such as office space. You can find more details in Enterprise Nation’s Quarterly Small Business survey results.

What we are actually seeing is a phenomenal rise in micro businesses  and what  Daniel Pink termed a ‘Free Agent Nation’ in his book entitled Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself.  A free agent’s encompass the self-employed, independent contractors, temporary workers and micro businesses. Although written in 2001 and based on America, the book has some really interesting points that I think mirror the UK’s own rapidly growing free agent nation.

In my endeavour to understand the trend a little more I read Daniel Pink’s book a couple of weeks ago, I found it quite insightful and wanted to share 3 key takeaway’s with you:

1.       The ‘organisation man’ is no longer the ideal

Yes being a high-level executive in a fortune 500 is still a well-respected and highly sought after career path but people don’t view it as the utopia they once did. An ‘organisation man’ is defined as someone who lets his individuality and personal life be dominated by the organisation he serves, this is often the reality for many in high-paid, high-level corporate employees. An increase number of the population is realising that they would rather have freedom, autonomy, financial freedom and quality of life and becoming a free agent is often the answer.

2.       Money is no longer the measure of success

As Dan Pink puts it; “As prosperity widens and as the expectation of comfort becomes the default assumption … money matters less in determining individual satisfaction and personal notions of success …a wealth of psychological studies have concluded that satisfaction is not for sale.

Free agents care about money and indeed many of them make a lot of money, but what motivates them to go down the free agent route is rarely about money. Increasingly many feel that in order to reach true self-actualisation and be free, it is necessary to transcend the confines of an organisation and step out on their own.

3.       The nature of loyalty has changed

In an economy where many senior executives lose their  jobs with increased regularity and  employee churn much higher now than in days past, the difference in perceived risk between a full-time job and self-employment is not as vast as it’s once was. In fact many free agents perceive self-employment as the safer bet. As job security has eroded so has loyalty.

As Dan Pink states; Investing all your human capital in a single company makes as little sense as investing all your financial capital in shares of IBM…diversify or die.

Free agents hedge their bets and tend to work for many companies as opposed to one. The job for life no longer exists and in addition, staying with one company for too long is seen as more of a negative than a positive as it raises questions as to how well a professional can adapt to a new environment.

For these reasons vertical loyalty (loyalty to one company or one leader) has weakened and horizontal loyalty (loyalty to colleagues past and present, teams and groups) has strengthened.

If you haven’t already read Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself I recommend it as it paints a very interesting picture of the changing world of work. If you’re a free agent or planning to become one I’d be really interested in hearing your views so feel free to leave your comments below.

Speak soon,

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New Year New Goals!

New year, new Goals, Katrina Douglas

Well hello, it’s been a while  :)

Given that it’s the beginning of the year I thought now was the opportune time for us to reconnect.

Well it’s been a busy few months and although it’s been hard work I’ve had some real highlights, including speaking at The Business Show in London for the 2nd time (presenting to Start-ups  on building a successful online presence) working on a couple of TV campaigns and taking 20 odd children ice skating for my sons 10th birthday. I’ve had fun but I have missed blogging, as the saying goes; ‘it’s the simple things’ :)

I have some things in store for you this year that I’m really excited about, so I thought I’d share them with you by way of the following 3 reasons you should continue visiting this blog:


  1. More advice
    I’ve got so much stuff to share with you, as you may or may not know I’m a Charted Marketer, I’ve  worked in marketing for 8 yrs and I currently  Head UK Marketing for a very successful global company. I say that not to boast but simply to demonstrate that what I share on this blog is the fruit of experience, hard work and much study and I genuinely believe that the information you’ll find here will be of value to you.  I’m a firm believer that it’s more blessed to give than receive and I intend to give more than ever this year, in more ways than one.

    For starters – I aim to blog every remaining day of this month
    , providing you with tonnes of useful advice from lessons I’ve learnt over the years including why I think advertising and traditional marketing practices are far from dead, why social should not run solo, why I think the most important marketing skills are reading and writing, I’ll also finally finish my blog series ‘the art of marketing warfare’ ( essentially a summary of foundational marketing principles)… and so much more. In fact why not send me a blog request and I’ll write a post just for you!
  2. New services
    This year I’m taking this blog to the next level and if you like what you read and would like one-to-one business advice tailored to your business goals, all you have to do is ask. In fact I’ve decided to do away with the traditional list of services and simply provide exactly what you tell me you need. The reason is; the businesses I really want to work with are freeagents, micro business and non-profits, and in my experience these businesses don’t want cookie cutter marketing services, I’ve worked with a fair few and the work I’ve  done  for every one of them has been significantly different. What I will do in the coming months is provide you with examples by way of case studies to give you a feel for the possibilities, so watch this space for more information. 
  3. Free stuff
    I also hope to provide free – webinars, web chats, free taster coaching sessions and of course free advice!

I’m really excited about this year and hope you are too, I’d love to hear what your plans are for 2014 so feel free to share and as always I welcome your feedback.

Speak soon

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Entrepreneurs work for others too

So I’ve always had great ambitions of setting up my own marketing consultancy, it was never an if, but, or maybe but quite simply a when.  I’ve had a business plan of my dream business sitting on my bookshelf since before I left university

However, of late my thinking has changed and I’m no longer so sure that self-employment will be the end goal for me, I don’t feel that I’m any less ambitious, driven or entrepreneurial than I used to be, but something’s changed….can’t put my finger on what or when it changed, but it’s definitely changed…

perhaps it’s that I quite like the definite divide between work-life and home-life that seems easier to maintain when you work for someone else’s business rather than your own

perhaps it’s that my notion of success has changed; I used to think that the only way I would truly feel successful would be to work for myself – I no longer feel that way in fact the things that I associate with my success have less and less to do with ‘employment’ with each passing year

perhaps it’s that I’d rather spend my spare time in more philanthropic endeavours than building my own business

perhaps it’s that I’ve realised that there’s more than one route to financial freedom

perhaps it’s that I’ve realised that you can be an entrepreneur, a change maker within a company

and perhaps it’s that I actually quite like working for someone else dare I say it

Entrepreneurs and thought leaders are as much needed in established businesses as they are in start-ups and one-man bands. The nature of business has changed and now I realise that the burning desire I have to effect change, be a thought-leader and expert in my chosen field can be realised within an established organisation. The future of work belongs to entrepreneurs and thought leaders whether you work for yourself or others.

It seems that everyone wants to be an entrepreneur and run their own business these days, which is cool, I haven’t ruled it out myself, but my point is that business success doesn’t necessarily culminate in self-employment and that’s cool too.

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Hi and thank you so much for visiting my blog!

Well, this is my very first blog post and I can’t tell you how glad I am to finally be writing this, starting this blog has been on my to do list for quite a while and as I began to think about my goals for 2012 I figured it was about time that I crossed this one off the 2011 list.

So, why have I decided to write this blog? Well I ‘muse’ a lot about the things that are important to me, namely my family, my Christian faith and my career. I am a wife, a mother of two, a Chartered Marketer and a manager, like most working mum’s my life is hectic but also incredibly rich, and as I reach a place of relative maturity in terms of my career and family life I wanted to share some of these musings.

I hope the posts on this blog will connect with you and perhaps we can chit-chat from time to time on the posts and topics that resonate with you most. My goal is to produce quality content based on my experiences, observations and lessons I’ve learnt over the years and I hope this will be of benefit to you.

As you can see I’ve split this blog into 3 key sections; marketing, management and motivation, here’s why:

Marketing – I have been a practicing marketer for the past 5 years, I’m incredibly excited and passionate about the current marketing landscape and in my view there has never been a better time to be a marketer than now!

Management - I have been a marketing manager for a while but I am a relatively new people manager. As such I have recently become reacquainted with management theory and I was surprised at how much there is on leadership in comparison to modern management. Of course the former is part of the latter but practical management is also more than leadership alone, so I figured I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences as I go a long.

Motivation – this is the most personal part of my blog, here I will talk about the things that motivate me, namely my family, my faith and the things and people around me. Here you’ll get to know me a little better and find out who I am and not just what I do but why I do it, beware you might find some randoms here :).

I have also included a reading list – I decided a while ago that my blog wouldn’t be complete without books, I love books – I have at least one with me everywhere I go, so I figured I’d share some of my favourite reads and perhaps get to know some of yours.

This blog is quite indulgent in that it’s a culmination of all my favourite topics, take from it what you want and leave what you don’t – whether, good, bad or indifferent I’d love to hear what you think so feel free to comment.

Well, chow for now and I hope you enjoy what you find here enough to return again.


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