Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants

01234 752 566


The UK's Quiet Business Revolution

From a job to self-employment ...


Over the last 16 years or so, there has been a massive revolution in UK business! No, I am not talking about the technological changes, although some of them have been or are going to be transformational. I am talking about an actual change in the way people work ...

The UK is becoming a real powerhouse for those who want to run their own business!

The UK is becoming a real powerhouse for those who want to run their own business!

One of the defining characteristics of the UK is the rise in self-employment, a rise which is especially evident in, and was an important part of, the UK’s economic recovery after the 2008-09 recession.

"The UK is clearly a great place to be self-employed!"

Lots of people are taking the plunge and starting their own business in a wide range of industries. Some of the statistics are shown further down, but what do they mean?

Firstly, all this is evidence of the rise of entrepreneurialism in the UK, and of the UK as a small business centre of excellence. Secondly, it is further proof of how easy it is to start your own business here. If you are thinking of taking the plunge and starting your own business then is 2017 the year for you?

So what are the statistics:

  • In 2001, the UK had around 3.2m self-employed people – in 2016 this had increased to 4.75m, a 48% increase!

  • Over the same period, the number of employed people rose from 27.8m to 31.8m, a mere 14% increase.

  • The number of limited companies was 1.6m in 2001, by October 2016 this had increased to 3.8m, a whopping 137% increase.

  • Or to put in another way, the number of self-employed has gone from 10% of the working population to around 15%.

  • The number of self-employed men has increased at a rate of 10% whilst the number of self-employed women has increased by more than a third. This means that more women than men are starting businesses and often these are the 'mumpreneurs' who juggle motherhood with business!

  • The number of over 65s who have started a business has also increased and around 10% of all self-employed are over 65!

  • Around 75% of all businesses do not employ anyone besides the business owners.

  • Interestingly, the number of people in work (either employed or self-employed) has increased from around 72% to 75%, although in the very long term, this has remained broadly static at just under 75% of the population of 18-65 year olds.

  • For those interested in statistics, there was a huge spike in entrepreneurialism in just three years from 1986 to 1989 – from 2.7m to 3.5m - this then fell to 3.2m by 2001 and there has been a general increase ever since with mini spikes in 2003/4 and in 2013/14.

If you are thinking of joining the UK’s quiet business revolution by starting your own business then where should you start?

"Well, ideally you need to have an idea and a plan!"

Clearly some people will become self-employed as a result of being made redundant, but if you are thinking of a change then also think how that change will be a success.

The difference between a great business start-up and a flop is, firstly, having a clear idea and doing enough planning and, secondly, the advice, help and support of a mentor.

  • Your Business Idea : Your business start-up idea doesn’t have to be world-changing! Yes, some people creates something novel and fantastic, but more people take something ordinary and just set out to do it very, very well.

  • Your Start-up Plan : It is never a good idea to go off half-cocked! Always have a plan, not just what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. But how much money do you need to be able to start your business and where is that money coming from? Very importantly, your plan should also have a what if section: what if it is worse than you think it might be and what will you do to deal with that?

  • When to Start : Anytime is a great time to start a business. For people thinking of making a change and breaking that mould, the best time is always when you are ready! And guess what? If you are never ready then maybe running your own business just isn’t for you.

If you are inspired to start a business in 2017 then get in touch with me at JVCA on 01234 752 566 or click here to send me an email enquiry and let us help you get started with some helpful and practical advice.

Until next time ...


More about Jonathan Vowles ...

I've been an accountant in and for business since 1987 and have a wide experience of consultancy, audit, accounts, taxation and wealth planning work from individuals and small businesses to multinational corporations and charities.

My eclectic interests in growing and developing business span a number of areas, which can be summarised as strategic business advice and tax saving advice.

I have worked with the Chamber of Commerce to deliver courses for people about starting up in business and have lectured about tax for a major accountancy practice and for Milton Keynes College.

I relax by reading fiction and by getting away from the office in a campervan.


01234 752 566