What area of the UK has created the most ‘lockdown entrepreneurs’?

While 2020 was an incredibly challenging year for small businesses, new research from Capital on Tap found that thousands of people up and down the country have started their own business despite uncertain times.

Whether due to necessity or the opportunity afforded by increased amounts of time spent at home, the UK’s lockdown entrepreneurs are helped to drive the economy at a time when other businesses were struggling resulting in a rise in unemployment.

But where were people most likely to start a new business and what industries saw the highest number of new businesses?

Capital on Tap analysed data on the total number of new business registrations, the ratio of population to new start-ups, and year-on-year registrations for 346 UK local authorities and Greater London to find the areas with the most entrepreneurial spirit.

Top 20 Lockdown Entrepreneurial Hotspots

Rank Area Region New Business Registrations Change (%) Residents per New Business Entrepreneurial Score
1 London LONDON 185,682 42.46 48.2 98.9
2 Birmingham WEST MIDLANDS 13,314 53.56 85.8 95.1
3 Manchester NORTH WEST 7,818 34.49 70.7 89.2
4 Leicester EAST MIDLANDS 5,345 72.14 66.3 83.2
5 Leeds YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER 6,666 41.89 119 79.3
6 Wyre Forest WEST MIDLANDS 1,941 55.03 52.2 76.1
7 Liverpool NORTH WEST 4,702 36.37 105.9 75.9
8 Luton EAST 2,937 52.33 72.5 75.9
9 Sandwell WEST MIDLANDS 3,504 49.11 93.7 74.4
10 Glasgow SCOTLAND 5,020 15.96 126.1 73.9
11 Slough SOUTH EAST 2,094 44.71 71.4 73.8
12 Hertsmere EAST 1,442 17.91 72.8 71.8
13 Dartford SOUTH EAST 1,513 43.01 74.4 71.8
14 Bristol SOUTH WEST 3,812 24.13 121.6 71.3
15 Northampton EAST MIDLANDS 2,353 -4.08 95.5 71.1
16 Milton Keynes SOUTH EAST 2,655 24.65 101.5 71
17 Salford NORTH WEST 2,507 22.65 103.2 70.4
18 Watford EAST 1,214 -18.14 79.6 70.3
19 Epping Forest EAST 1,504 17.04 87.6 69.9
20 Warrington NORTH WEST 2,103 -45.48 99.9 69.8

In fact, more than 528,746 businesses have registered since the 23rd March 2020 (the beginning of lockdown) – that’s an increase of 26% when compared to the same period the previous year.

While London takes the top spot as the UK’s lockdown entrepreneurial capital, Leicester also ranks near the top of the list after seeing an increase of 72% in new business registrations, accounting for one new business for every 66 people – all this despite spending more than 150 days in lockdown.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 were Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow, as well as smaller local authorities including Wyre Forest, Luton, and Sandwell.

Most common new businesses

Business Type New Registrations % of Registrations
Retail by mail order/internet 27,866 5.21%
Construction 19,729 3.69%
Buying/selling real estate 19,519 3.65%
Retail 19,311 3.61%
Management consultancy 19,098 3.57%
Business administration & support services 17,717 3.32%
Other service activities 17,254 3.23%
Arts, entertainment, recreation 17,060 3.19%
Letting/operating real estate 16,432 3.08%
Finance & insurance 15,264 2.86%

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 retailers 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 from March to December.

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.

Business type by increase in registrations

Business Type 2019 2020 Change %
Retail by mail order/internet 10,403 27,866 17,463 167.87%
Import & Export 1,644 3,740 2,096 127.49%
Non-specialised wholesale trade 2,489 5,427 2,938 118.04%
Cleaning & Sanitation 3,552 7,014 3,462 97.47%
Retail 10,443 19,311 8,868 84.92%
Specialised Retail 701 1,266 565 80.60%
Wholesale 3,792 6,765 2,973 78.40%
Other retail sale not in stores, stalls or markets 4,162 6,980 2,818 67.71%
Car Sales 3,926 6,550 2,624 66.84%
Landscaping 1,109 1,776 667 60.14%

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.”

enewsletter