Business development · 12 July 2017

LinkedIn census reveals surge in UK entrepreneurship

Founders from Italy were the greatest contributor to the rise in UK entrepreneurship
Founders from Italy were the greatest contributor to the rise in UK entrepreneurship

More Britons than ever are striking out on their own to start a business, as fresh figures suggest the UK’s largest firms are most vulnerable to the lure of the entrepreneurial world.

Professional social network LinkedIn analysed its 23m UK members in the 12 months from April 2016 to find growth among all kinds of enterprise.

The number of users identifying as a sole trader increased by 13.5 per cent in that year, while those registered as an “entrepreneur” increased by 6.4 per cent.

Micro company founders, employing up to ten staff, grew by 4.1 per cent in the 12 months from April 2016.

Looking at which sectors were most popular for new founders, architecture and engineering generated a 17.9 per cent increase since last April. Professional services were also an up-and-coming destination, showing 16.9 per cent year-on-year rise.

‘‘Our findings should give confidence to professionals who are thinking about taking the leap and striking out on their own,” said Josh Graff, LinkedIn’s UK country manager.

“Our research should also be of interest to the UK government, who will need to put the health of SMEs and sole traders at the top of their agenda as they prepare their strategy for Britain’s economy after Brexit.’’

Curiously, the rising number of new founders was reflected in the decline in workforce size of larger companies, particularly from the top of the food chain. The biggest firms, employing over 10,000 staff, saw a 1.9 per cent reduction in employees.

Large retail firms were perhaps most significantly affected by a rise in UK entrepreneurship, registering a 5.6 per cent year-on-year decline in staff numbers.

Commenting on the findings, Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said Britain’s growing presence of entrepreneurs was “hugely welcome”.

“It shows that a new generation of strivers is now emerging,” he added.

“As more and more people ditch traditional jobs working for corporates, they are coming up with a business idea and taking a big risk – to strike out on their own. As a result, we all benefit from our economy becoming more dynamic, innovative and productive.”

Figures also revealed where talent was escaping the country for. More UK entrepreneurs went to the United States than any other country, with 12.1 per cent of all British professionals leaving the UK heading across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Italy was the greatest contributor of new founders for the second year in a row.

Find out whether Labour or Conservative constituencies are more likely to foster UK entrepreneurship

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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