Despite the recent findings in a new study that shows Hull workers earn £138 less than counterparts in other major cities, some local residents are finding the best way to boost income is to become self-employed.
Steve Sellers, 33, of North Hull legal consultancy Sellers Legal, is not only working with local companies, providing affordable legal and HR support, but is exporting his services to countries around the world - all from his home office in Hull.
He knows first-hand how hard it can be to find good employment in Hull - the UK city with the highest proportion of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance - and feels the best decision he made was to take matters into his own hands.
He said, “Following an accident six years ago, where I was actually made redundant while I was recovering in hospital, I was unemployed for over two years.
“I applied for any job available that I was qualified - and over-qualified - to do, but there were limited opportunities due to surgery that had affected my mobility.
“Not making it past interview, or even application stage, countless times, really took its toll on my morale.
“I decided that if there wasn’t a position out there available for me, I would carve my own way and start a business that would work for the benefit of SME businesses in Hull and help me provide for my family.”
Law graduate Steve started Sellers Legal in 2011, initially providing will writing and commercial contracts services locally.
In the past four years, his business has expanded beyond Hull, with repeat clients in Wales, London, Australia and Mexico, taking advantage of his expertise in contract law and HR.
Overseas business has seen Mr Sellers negotiating successful purchasing deals including a relaunch of beloved 70s toy, Stylophone, as well as the importation of high value machinery from Australia, and a number of marketing and media deals in the US.
He is currently assisting negotiations to buy a website in the US for North American based firm, Advanced Media Solutions, owners of oilprice.com, the most popular energy news website in the world.
Steve believes his low overhead costs have made it easier for him to offer competitive prices, and allowed him to compete on a global scale in business.
He said, “As a small business myself, I know how expensive essential services can be. My aim was to provide a professional service at an affordable cost to the customer.
“To accomplish this, I work from home and run a ‘virtual’ office. I conduct meetings via Skype and telephone, and visit clients on their premises.
"This approach has earned me lots of repeat custom from local, national and international companies, and some great recommendations from previous clients.
“Working on a global scale means I’m often on the phone to a client at 2am, but if that’s the way to continue to grow my business and provide a positive experience for my customers, then I’m more than happy to do that.”
Locally, Mr Sellers works with a variety of clients offering HR advice, and last year beat the largest law firm in the area defending a client in an employment tribunal, proving that size does not necessarily indicate expertise.
In the future, he hopes to invest in the local economy by helping Hull businesses to successfully import and export their services using his knowledge, experience and contacts.
He said, “Our economy is on the up and England is open for business - Hull even more so, with our City of Culture celebrations on the horizon. All eyes are on us.
“I feel I’m a good example of someone who won’t take no for an answer. I didn’t want to settle for unemployment because I couldn’t find a suitable job due to health problems and sheer number of applicants.
“Creating my own opportunity in the business world - particularly in my area of expertise - has been hard, and there’s still so much work to do. I’m excited for the future - for my business, and for Hull."