By Daniel Hunter

Entrepreneurial Britain in the UK is thriving with 1 in 4 people (23%) wanting to start a business, new research from leading business software and services provider Sage has revealed.

At a time when inspiring budding entrepreneurs and creating an environment in which they can realise their ambitions is seen as critical to the UK’s economic recovery, Sage’s research has redrawn the map of Entrepreneurial Britain and challenged conventional wisdom.

The YouGov study suggests that the country’s current economic dependence on the South East will start to gravitate northwards. As over the next two years the North East will become the recognised home of UK start-ups, with Entrepreneurial Britain at its highest in the areas where people have choice about their future and careers, and are not restricted by a lack of job opportunities.

Entrepreneurial hot spots and not spots

It is not London that is cultivating tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, but cities such as Newcastle, Sunderland, Sheffield and Leeds where new businesses will be springing up. Of the one in 4 people that want to start a business, 7% will be doing so in the next two years, with the North East having the highest percentage of budding entrepreneurs (11%). Prospective startups in this region are driven overwhelmingly by the desire to do something they are passionate about full time (38%).

Would-be business owners in the North East are also motivated by wanting to make more money for themselves (18%) and wanting to have greater control over their working day by being their own boss (12%). Nationwide, the research revealed that lack of job opportunities as the principle motivator was at its lowest here at just 4% — less than half the national average (10%).

People in Yorkshire and the Humber region — the second most entrepreneurial area - echo these trends with 1 in 10 people planning to start a business, and only 8% of entrepreneurs being driven by a lack of employment opportunities. In Yorkshire, the greater control that being your own boss offers is seen as a powerful motivator for a quarter of all start-ups (24%) alongside doing something your passionate about full time (24%) and making more money (22%).

Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North West is where Entrepreneurial Britain is low with just 1 in 20 (5%) people planning on starting their own business. Interestingly this smaller group of entrepreneurs are three times as likely to be motivated by a lack of jobs in their area (14%, 11% and 14% respectively) than entrepreneurs where entrepreneurism is at its highest.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the research suggests that the low start-up rates may be a result of people in these regions being less risk averse and more interested in long-term job security. One third of all people who aren’t planning on starting a business in these regions (Scotland 31%, NI 33%) aren’t doing so because they believe it is more secure to work for someone else.

The age of the shop-preneur

Nationwide the sector that most people plan to start their business in is retail, with some 17% set to launch their own retail firm with online boutiques, vintage clothing specialists and cake decorating businesses representing a common theme. The study highlighted a clear distinction in the type of entrepreneur focusing on this area with nearly double the number of women (1 in 5, 21%) starting a retail outfit compared to men (12%).

Providing services to business such as advertising, graphic design and accountancy, is the next most popular field with more than 1 in 10 people (11%) intending to launch a business in this area. The third, most popular sector for new businesses will be the Personal Services sector (9%), which will see an increase in the number of plumbers, beauticians and cleaners. For a regional breakdown of the top three most popular sectors, please see the attached infographic.

Discovering Business Potential

The Entrepreneurial Britain research was conducted as part of a wider Sage initiative where the company is looking to provide prospective entrepreneurs and existing small business owners with guidance and insights that help them to discover their potential. Whether someone wants to start a business, get more customers or manage cash flow, as a company supporting 830,000 businesses in the UK, Sage can provide insights and confidence to help owners unlock the potential in their company.

“The UK business landscape is changing. The home for entrepreneurism, which has for so long been associated with London and the South East is moving North, and this will have a significant impact on regional economies. The rollout of technology infrastructure, such as superfast broadband, alongside access to guidance and advice will be instrumental to any region becoming a hub for start-ups and in order for entrepreneurs to fulfil their potential. But what is clear is that entrepreneurial Britain is thriving,” commented Lee Perkins, Managing Director for Sage’s Small Business Division.

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