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Articles / Business

Half a million new companies set up in the UK in 2020

start-ups in UK

2020 was a memorable year for the UK business, for all the wrong reasons. The political and medical situation on the ground meant that businesses large and small had to adapt to socially-distant, locked-down conditions. Unemployment skyrocketed, the wider economy contracted, and the full extent of the damage might not play out for months, or even years.

But there is a silver lining in the form of a marked uptick in the number of new businesses registered. When millions of skilled workers found themselves housebound, a sizeable portion of them decided to commit to their side-hustle. And many existing businesses decided to pivot to a slightly different model, so that they could continue to operate within the rules.

What was the most popular sector?

Research conducted by instantprint, a UK based print company, specialising in posters and banners, saw that just under half a million new businesses (468,371) were registered in 2020, with the retail sector coming out on top with 22,011 registrations.

It’s possible to run a small online shop from the comfort of your home, and many have elected to do just that.

Where are the start-ups located?

While London has its disadvantages when it comes to working from home (not least of which is the lacklustre broadband infrastructure), it still boasts by far the highest number of new businesses established of any city in the UK, with more than 120,000 registrations. The next highest number came from Birmingham, at less than 12,000.

According to the World Economic Forum, London is the most attractive city in the world for people, capital and global business, and has been for the past nine years. This comes despite predictions that Brexit would lead to economic Armageddon.

When did the start-ups start up?

As you might imagine, it was during the initial lockdown that the boom for new business peaked. 52,000 new ventures got off the ground in July, with the 27th week of the year (between 29th June and 5th July) being the busiest, at 18,189.

A nation of shopkeepers

Further polling reveals the entrepreneurial aspirations of the nation. 64% of the UK workforce would like to start their own business, and this figure rises to 83% when we consider just 18-24-year olds. It’s therefore likely that we’ll see a broader trend in this direction over the next few decades. The flexibility and freedom that we’ve (somewhat ironically) experienced during lockdown might provide a new incentive in this direction.

Would-be entrepreneurs might dislike their existing jobs, or feel that they could earn more elsewhere, or be driven by a desire to dictate their own hours. While the urge is more pressing among men (69%) than women (56.4%), both sexes are more entrepreneurial than not!

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