Small Business, Big Changes

According to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, in 2000 there were 3.5million private sector businesses in the UK and by the end of 2015 this number had risen to 5.4million, an increase of 54%, 3.6% net per annum.


This fact cheers me, however closer investigation shows there’s a very different picture to that I first conjured. Indeed there’s a trend that highlights how private enterprise is and continues to significantly change and there are considerable opportunities many are not taking advantage of.

Although there are an additional 1.9m businesses the vast majority of the 5.4million total, 4.1million (76%), have no employees and this group is far and away the fastest growing: by 73% in the last 15 years, whereas large employers have fallen by net 3% in the same period. In simple terms, increasing numbers of companies are in fact self-employed individuals with no employees.

To my mind this trend creates many opportunities but I wonder how many businesses are considering them properly? Here are just five to get you thinking:

1. Rather than looking to expand your business with additional employees might you restructure your business to include more self-employed?

2. How many of your current employees might be considering breaking out on their own? Might you actively encourage some to take this step and become their first customers?

3. How many small business partnerships do you have? My sense is there’s a lot of value to be gained through partnering with other smaller, more entrepreneurially inclined, businesses/individuals.

4. Can your workspaces also become places for other individuals/businesses to work from?

5. How might you go about marketing properties for sale/to let in light of this data? Bedrooms and dining rooms become offices and broadband accessibility becomes a significant issue.

Change is one of the few constants in life and most of it occurs in relatively small steps that over time become significant. The changes in employment status/structure, the ageing population that is needing additional income streams to fund their extended retirement and the mobility of youth are all trends that we should be much more aware of and taking into account in our business planning.

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