The number of entrepreneurs in the UK is continuing to rise, with over 660,000 new businesses being set up in 2016 alone. There have been a lot of new trends in the new business market in recent years, and industries have seen changes that transform the way services are provided to consumers. With changes in technology and social media, individuals from all age groups and locations have seen an increase in the opportunities available to them. But what are the current trends among new entrepreneurs in the UK? And how are they helping more and more people start their own businesses and achieve more independence and the income they’re looking for?
Solopreneurship is a popular and growing trend, and in recent years, there’s been an upward trend in the number of individuals going into business alone. But what exactly is a solopreneur? According to urban dictionary, it’s “An entrepreneur who works alone, ‘solo’, running their business single-handedly. They might have contractors for hire, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business.” So why is it becoming so popular?
Part of the appeal is that it helps to keep businesses lean and reduces a lot of the costs associated with hiring employees. It’s also a good way to get into business without too much capital investment, and can even be done part time. Among the many individuals becoming solopreneurs, there’s been an increased number of those in marketing professions, who already have a lot of the skills required to grow successful businesses. People with strong marketing skills know that if a product or service is marketed well, it can sell quickly leading to strong growth.
One of the biggest trends in entrepreneurship in recent years is the rise of social media. It’s becoming more and more important, not just for large corporations, but also for small and medium sized businesses to develop a strong presence online. Competition has never been more intense, so entrepreneurs are becoming even more creative with their content to attract new followers with the hope they turn into customers.
A lot of businesses can thrive and grow rapidly using social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. They can be used to research market needs and trends, develop and adapt new products and to sell to the public. There has also been an increase in the number of v-loggers (video bloggers) using sites like YouTube to engage their audience and reach new customers across the globe.
The most successful social media entrepreneurs are those who use their individuality, creative skills and passion for their business to target internet users in a skilful way. Research has shown that consumers are far more likely to remain loyal to a brand if they have a personal connection with it, and a lot of businesses are utilising this marketing technique by trying to connect and relate with their audience.
Social media advertising has never been so competitive and the number of new bloggers and ads online is growing at a record pace. Targeted spending is also on the up, with companies rapidly recognising the importance of this type of marketing and taking advantage of blogs and videos as well as platforms like Snapchat. Sites like Instagram and Facebook now offer payments without having to use third party apps, which makes them even more convenient for new start-ups who don’t have the resources to build an ecommerce store.
With the oldest members of the millennial generation now in their 30s, even more are entering leadership roles in the workplace and a massive number are choosing to start their own businesses. It’s thought that a combination of lack of opportunities and easy access to technology and online platforms means that this generation are becoming one of the most entrepreneurial yet. Millennials are a group that is focused and results driven and have tonnes to offer to the business market across different industries.
Millennial entrepreneurs are often much more focused on their strategies, and research has shown that they tend to be more focused than their older peers on bettering themselves. “Those from the Baby Boomer generation emphasise self-determination and personal profit. Millennial entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are placing more emphasis on the social capital required for successful entrepreneurship, such as relationship building and reciprocity.”
Another ongoing trend in the UK is the rise in the number of female entrepreneurs across different industries. Data has shown that between 2006 and 2016, the proportion of women starting their own businesses rose by a massive 45%, and although men are still more likely to be entrepreneurs, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of women who are self-employed.
According to the UK Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Margot James: “Supporting innovation and entrepreneurs is a central pillar of this Government’s Industrial Strategy, so it is great to see more women throughout the country engaging in entrepreneurship in Britain. The UK remains among the best places in Europe to start a business, but we must continue working to ensure that this positive trend continues.”
Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, added: The closing of the ‘enterprise gap’ in the Midlands (West and East), in particular, may be partly explained by internal and international migration patterns. We know from previous GEM research that mobile individuals, who also tend to be university graduates, are much more likely to become entrepreneurs and this appears to fit with the experience in these regions and the growth of places like Birmingham and Leicester as thriving diverse and dynamic cities, providing many opportunities for new venture creation.”
With so many businesses appealing to mass markets, there’s been an increase in demand recently for entrepreneurs offering niche services or products to their customers. Success is now coming from focusing on smaller and more specific audiences who focus on providing a more specialist service to consumers. For example, the Danish philosophy of “hygge” which is used in interior design and appeals to a niche market, has seen a rise in web searches over the last year. The main selling point of this concept being “Instilling this concept into our workspaces through the use of greenery could be the natural solution to delivering some cosiness to our cold, sterile offices – it could help improve employee engagement and inspire staff.”
Other recent niche products include jive classes, which have seen a spike in the number of entrepreneurs considering teaching dance, and also in food and drink. Craft gin showed an increase in Google searches throughout the year, as did craft beer and other beverages. Some other recent trends include online streaming services, eSports and cycling companies. Looking at specific customer needs, and finding ways to fill these gaps in the market is a rising trend in the entrepreneurial world.
Another trend sweeping the nation is the rise of independent hobbyists looking to turn their crafts into businesses. These types of entrepreneurs are taking locally made products, including drinks, durables, jewellery, textiles and others, and selling them to the public both at craft fairs and on internet websites like Etsy. Etsy has transformed the way craft products are sold.
With 1.4 million active sellers and 20 million customers across the world, thousands of craft makers have now become entrepreneurs with flourishing businesses. Most of these businesses have fewer than 10 employees, and many of them are run by women. “We’re really excited about that because it’s an atypical view of an entrepreneur,” says Annette Picardo, UK managing director of Etsy.
As online shopping becomes more convenient, it’s becoming even more popular among consumers. Online retail spending is at an all-time high in the UK. Businesses like eBay, Amazon and Etsy have transformed the way the nation shops, and cloud based solutions are making it so much easier for businesses to take advantage of this trend. Using e-commerce solutions is helping businesses of all sizes to expand their online sales at a rapid rate and the trend is continuing to grow.
E-commerce is big business, and with more consumers choosing convenience over anything else, taking down barriers to purchases is something entrepreneurs are really using to their advantage. One of the biggest changes in the last few years is the rise of mobile payments. Businesses are now able to offer a range of payment options which is boosting sales and making this trend even more exciting.
The Gig Economy
For entrepreneurs that don’t have the capacity to hire workers, the new trend of the “gig economy” has offered them a new way of hiring individuals to complete tasks on a case by case basis; meaning they no longer have to miss out on the skills they need. Using online platforms is a trend that’s making it easier for businesses to connect with people who are willing to complete specific jobs for them which can offer huge advantages.
Although there’s been some criticism of the gig economy in the media, the flexible nature of it can offer benefits to both the workers, and also to smaller businesses that no longer need have the funds associated with hiring full time employees. For new start-ups and organisations with inconsistent income, it can help to organise work, expand and provide a much better service to their customers.
With more over 50’s facing redundancy, there’s been a trend in the last few years where more and more people of this age group are choosing entrepreneurship to create the lifestyle and income they want. A recent survey has shown that around 45% of all self-employed people are now aged over 50, and as a group are setting up businesses at a faster pace than any other age group. But what’s driving this phenomenon? Other than the income, the desire for greater independence, combined with the experience they can offer to the marketplace are creating a whole new wave of entrepreneurs.
Another group that has seen an increase in the number of entrepreneurs is graduates. It’s no secret that competition for graduate schemes is making it much more difficult for individuals recently leaving university to find employment and competition for graduate schemes has never been more intense. It’s no surprise then that a rising number of graduates are turning to entrepreneurship as an alternative. After all, if you can’t find a job that you love, why not create one yourself?
“With the rise in graduate unemployment, more and more graduates are reassessing their career options and looking for more entrepreneurial career paths,” says Rajeeb Dey, CEO of Enternships, a company devoted to giving young people access to work experience in start-up companies. The technology industry in particular has shown good prospects for young people looking to start their own businesses, and with government funding and loans to support young people, there are even more opportunities for graduates who want to leave university and go straight into business – skipping the job market altogether.