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Has the UK lost its appetite for entrepreneurialism?

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26 February 2019

Reports from some of the world’s leading research authorities on entrepreneurship and UK business indicate that as a nation, the UK may be losing its appetite for entrepreneurialism.

The latest statistical release from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the UK’s Business Population revealed that the number of start-up businesses and sole-proprietorships in the UK has reduced for the first time in almost 20 years. Figures show 27,000 fewer businesses were set up in 2018 and the year closed with 49,000 fewer sole-proprietorships.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Global Report for 2018-2019 also found that a mere 7% of UK adults have the intention to start a business in the next three-years, prompting speculation that the trend could continue.

Rhiannon Hooper, Director, comments, “At face value the figures could look bleak, but while it is important to take notice of the break in the trend for start-ups, the same ONS Statistical Release also showed a two per cent increase in the number of larger employing businesses and a one per cent increase in the combined annual turnover of UK SMEs in the same period.

“The shift from high numbers of start-ups to an increase in small businesses transitioning into medium enterprises and then becoming larger employing businesses is still positive for the UK economy – these are the product of sustained growth.

“Our experience working with businesses from start-up through each landmark moment has shown us that an established SME can be just as entrepreneurial in their aspirations as a start-up. It has also shown us that a one size fits all approach just doesn’t work. Businesses need tailored advice, systems and support not only determined by their age or size, but the complexity of the business and their growth aspirations.

“The UK economy needs to be both stable and dynamic with room and support for established, growing SMEs alongside start-ups. It takes entrepreneurs of all types, and a healthy balance of them to achieve this.”