While the fallout from Brexit may have caused some initial uncertainty, there are signs that the country’s entrepreneurial community is bigger and more resilient than ever.
Research from StartUp Britain, the government-backed national enterprise campaign, shows people are starting businesses at a higher rate than in 2015, with 342,927 new businesses having been registered with Companies House between January and June this year.
And while London emerged as the region that’s breeding the highest number of entrepreneurs – for example, the City has 500 startups for every 1,000 residents – entrepreneurship is flourishing elsewhere too. In Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, 29 out of every 1,000 residents started a business between January and June, earning it the title of Britain’s most entrepreneurial town. Not far behind are hubs like Lichfield, Warrington and East Hertfordshire, which have 17, 15 and 15 startups per thousand residents respectively.
But starting a business is one thing – keeping it going can often be the hard part. It’s said that 90% of new ventures fail but separate government data shows that 3.6% fewer businesses became insolvent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year.
So will the golden age of entrepreneurship continue or will Brexit make people more wary about embarking on a risky new venture? It seems more likely to be the former than the latter: looking at the financial crash of 2008, the fallout resulted in an opportunity for disruption, which fintech companies like peer-to-peer lending service Funding Circle and online invoice finance platform MarketInvoice have embraced.
Matt Smith, director of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, the think tank that co-founded StartUp Britain, believes that Brexit could spark more entrepreneurship.
Speaking to Elite Business, he said: “The number of people starting businesses has been steadily increasing for years, and given the passion that underpins all entrepreneurs turning their ideas into action, startup rates generally show resilience to periods of political upheaval. While business activity has slowed in the short term, with a new prime minister things will stabilise and the ‘Brexit spirit’ could be good for nimble startups. I expect the present positive trends to continue.”
Brexit? Bring it.