Are we about to see a record number of start-ups in the UK?

With less than a month to go before the government sets out its economic predictions in its first spring budget, new research commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks reveals a 30% uptick in the number of people planning to start a business or register as self-employed this year.

With 1.4 million new limited company or self-employed registrations in 2019, 2020 is set to see that rise to as many as 1.8 million new registrations.

The independent research of 2,500 people also identified a number of other indicators of confidence among early-stage entrepreneurs:

  • 1 in 10 (10%) self-employed people plan to take the first big step in their business journey – putting their first employee on the payroll
  • 1 in 5 (23%) business owners are likely to move from kitchen table to premises for the first time
  • 1 in 3 (35%) established business owners plan to employ at least one new person and continue to grow their business
  • 1 in 5 (21%) business owners are likely to bring in external funding for the first time

Chris Evans, VP and UK Country Manager, Intuit QuickBooks said: “Our research shows there’s optimism across the country, particularly for those keen to either start or grow their own business. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy – we need to do everything we can to support them, to help them be more productive and prosper.

“I am regularly speaking to small business owners across the country, I understand the challenges they can face on a daily basis, just to keep on an even keel. The prospect of increasing sales or workforce can be both exciting and also daunting, especially if that means taking on more responsibly, or having to run payroll. However, with the right digital tools and support in place, you can run and grow your business with confidence.”

Overcoming challenges

Self-employed research respondents had a wide range of low-level concerns about taking one major ‘big step’ in their business journey – putting their first employee on the payroll:

  • Being able to consistently afford their salary (28%)
  • The new employee being ‘good enough’ at the job (21%)
  • Brexit uncertainty (18%)
  • Understanding employment and payroll regulations (14%)
  • Standing out from the crowd of employers (13%)

Off the back of the research, QuickBooks hosted a roundtable discussion with owners of small businesses of different sizes, ambitions and outlooks. It more about perceptions of barriers to growing a small business in the UK today.

One of the attendees at the round table, the former BBC’s The Apprentice candidate and serial entrepreneur, Claire Young, noted the importance of tackling challenges head-on, saying: “Running a small business involves a learning cliff rather than a learning curve – it’s hard and fast and you’ll go over the edge and either learn to fly or plummet.”

The research also found most entrepreneurs recruit their first employee on the payroll in their own image, selecting someone who shares four out of five traits with their perception of a ‘perfect entrepreneur’.

Speaking at the roundtable, Roni Savage, founder of construction business Jomas Associates, said: “Consider psychometric testing to understand whether potential employees really can do the job. This is something I’ve found invaluable and have even done retrospectively to understand how my teams work and function together.”