The coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people to put many aspects of their lives on hold, but while some of us spent lockdown taking part in virtual PE classes or nursing a sourdough starter, others were using the extra time to start their own business.
But where were people most likely to start a new business and what industries saw the highest number of new businesses?
We have analysed more than a quarter of a million new businesses registrations to find the country's entrepreneurial hotspots as well as the types of businesses they’re starting.
The UK’s lockdown entrepreneurial hotspots
There have been over 375,670 new business registrations since lockdown began, and with 17 of the top 25 most entrepreneurial council areas in London, more than a third (36%) of new businesses were born in the nation’s capital.
Internet and mail order businesses were the most common type of new business in 19 of the top 25 entrepreneurial hotspots suggesting that more people have used the extra time spent at home during lockdown to become ‘homepreneurs’ - using online marketplaces such as Etsy and eBay to turn their skills and hobbies into home-based businesses.
Most Entrepreneurial London Boroughs
All of the top 10 London boroughs are north of the river with start-up powerhouses Camden and Hackney topping the list.
King’s Cross, Silicon Roundabout and East London Tech City are home to some of the fastest-growing start-ups and scale-ups, including the likes of TransferWise, Monese, and Monzo - so while it’s not surprising to see Camden and Hackney in firsts and second place, it’s encouraging to see that the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic has done little to dampen the confidence of budding entrepreneurs.
Most Common New Business Types
Rise of the homepreneur
Apple, Amazon and Disney all began in their founders' homes and garages, and all across the UK lockdown has led to a surge in new businesses such as online retail that can easily be run from home thanks to online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy.
In fact, online and mail-order retail businesses alone accounted for more than 5% of all new registrations since the end of March.
While working from the comfort of your own home comes with benefits such as allowing you to be more flexible in your working hours, spending more time with family, and foregoing the daily commute - it can sometimes be difficult to remain motivated and productive.
If you’re working or running a business from home, the NHS has put together a list of tips to help you feel more productive whilst also taking care of your physical and mental health that you can find here.
Cooking up a storm
The food preparation sector also saw a large number of new registrations over the last 8 months or so accounting for over 2% of all new businesses.
Examples of the types of businesses in this category include street food vendors, food stalls, and delivery or take-away only restaurants. This could suggest that while eating indoors in traditional settings was disrupted by coronavirus restrictions, entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to start mobile food stalls and vans, taking their food directly to the people instead.
Third-party food delivery services such as Just Eat, Deliveroo, UberEats and even social media apps like Instagram have also made it easier for people to start and promote small businesses from their own kitchens, turning their talent and passion for cooking and baking into a source of income.
In June, Uber Eats announced that it had almost doubled the number of restaurants on the app in just four months, resulting in a sales increase of 160% as lockdown fueled demand.
Bricks and mortar
Restrictions imposed on house viewings and home removals during the height of the lockdown put the brakes on the housing market, however, despite this uncertainty the housing development, property rental and construction sectors all saw a large number of new registrations.
In June, the Prime Minister announced new rules overhauling planning permission that would make it easier to create new homes and residential property. It’s possible that these new rules helped to ease concerns and even encouraged people to take advantage of these new rules by setting up their own property and housing businesses.
Those who did make the leap may have had some early rewards as pent up demand and the temporary stamp duty holiday led to a surge in eager buyers over the summer months.
The digital transformation
Remote working also led to increased demand in digital services such as IT Consultancy, Software Development, and Tech Support Services - all appearing in the top 25.
While businesses that already had home or remote working policies would have found it easier to adapt, many traditional industries have had to completely rethink the ways in which they work in a very small amount of time. This would likely have led to an increase in demand for expertise and services to help guide them through the process.
Likewise, people who already worked in digital industries who had a positive experience of remote working may have been given the boost they needed to start their own businesses and help others with their transition.
Most Common New Businesses by Region
David Luck, CEO of Capital on Tap commented: “The disruption caused by coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on people, businesses, and the global economy, so it’s inspiring to see so many entrepreneurs backing themselves and seizing the opportunity to start their own businesses.
“With remote working increasing our reliance on technology, it’s not surprising to see digital and IT businesses dominating the list of the most common new registrations, however, the increase in online retail and food delivery businesses would seem to suggest that large numbers of people are starting new business ventures from home and using online marketplaces and delivery apps to turn their passions into successful small businesses.
“Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been around for a while, running a business is hard enough without having to worry about funding. That’s why we believe in offering quick, straight-forward funding options so that you can focus on the bigger picture.”
Help with starting a business
If you’re thinking of starting a business there are plenty of organisations that can help, here are a few to get you started:
- An analysis of all active businesses registered with Companies House between 23rg March - 30th September 2020
- New businesses registered by local council area
- SIC Codes aggregated by industry/type
- Most Common New Businesses = % of active registered businesses with assigned SIC code
Excludes dormant businesses, businesses with no assigned SIC code, City of London. Only SIC codes with at least 500 new registrations were considered.