Business development · 10 August 2017

Revealed: The UK’s top five cities to be self-employed

European cities on map series: Southampton
Southampton’s self-employed worked fewer hours for more money than the national average

A surge in self-employment in the last decade has seen the UK’s population of small and micro business owners reach 4.6m, as more Britons than ever strike out on their own. But, for other would-be founders, which city offers the best environment to be self-employed in?

According to a new study, undertaken by accounting provider Intuit Quickbooks, Southampton is the best place to be self-employed in Britain.

To calculate the best – and worst – British cities to be self-employed in, over 5,000 small business owners across the country were asked about their working hours, holidays and job satisfaction, as well financial questions on expenses, loans and overall income.

Overall, self-employed workers in Southampton worked two hours fewer each week than the national average of 28 hours, and at £39,024, earned over £6,000 per year.

Responding to the final rankings, Sandeep Sesodia, Chair of the Southampton Business Board at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said the body was “delighted” to learn of Southampton’s success as a home to self-employed people.

In the face of notoriously high house prices in the South of England, London and Brighton followed as favourable cities for Britain’s micro business owners.

Edinburgh also featured in the top five cities to be self-employed, where fiercely independent founders were more likely than anywhere else to cite being their own boss as the greatest benefit of self-employment.

But, in terms of yearly earnings, Liverpool’s self-employed workers raked in the most. Merseyside entrepreneurs were taking home £46,886 per year, the study found.

Interestingly, 85 per cent of those in Sheffield looked past relatively low earnings – the third lowest at £24,791 – to enjoy better life satisfaction than salaried workers.

Commenting on the findings, Dominic Allon, managing director at Intuit Europe, said rising self-employment had been “fuelled by demand for a better quality of life”.

“This ranking will be particularly welcome news to Southampton residents, where the workforce has carved out the best balance to earn more, work less and be happier,” he said.

Nonetheless, Allon said, entrepreneurialism should be encouraged regardless of location.

He added: “New technologies and platforms are enabling more of us than ever to explore new income streams and dramatically different working habits.”

The top five cities to be self-employed:

  1. Southampton
  • Mean yearly earnings of £39,024
  • 26 hours worked per week
  • 83 per cent say their life satisfaction is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  • 71 per cent say their financial status is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  1. London
  • Mean yearly earnings of £35,779
  • 27 hours worked per week
  • 84 per cent say their life satisfaction is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  • 66 per cent say their financial status is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  1. Edinburgh
  • Mean yearly earnings of £35,285
  • 28 hours worked per week
  • 84 per cent say their life satisfaction is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  • 70 per cent say their financial status is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  1. Brighton
  • Mean yearly earnings of £35,589
  • 27 hours worked per week
  • 81 per cent say their life satisfaction is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  • 65 per cent say their financial status is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  1. Sheffield
  • Mean yearly earnings of £24,791
  • 27 hours worked per week
  • 85 per cent say their life satisfaction is the same or better than being a salaried worker
  • 70 per cent say their financial status is the same or better than being a salaried worker

Allon concluded: “While the advantages of working for yourself have become clear, to truly achieve the life satisfaction and financial security that will reduce stress and define self-employed success, the self-employed must ensure their finances are airtight.

“Individuals must embrace technology, which has made the operations side of working for yourself faster, cheaper and easier, and in turn, boosted innovation and productivity.”

Large proportion of self-employed only “just about managing” to keep finances in check

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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