Small businesses in the UK – Key Statistics

A major report published by Warwick Business School entitled “Finance for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises” reveals some fascinating statistics relating to the small business world in the UK.

In early 2004, a consortium of 19 public and private sector organisations commissioned the Business School to undertake a study into SME finances. This is the first representative survey of SMEs in the UK to offer a close analysis of businesses (with fewer than 250 employees), their main owners and access to external finance.

Size of Small Businesses in the UK

• 2,200,000 businesses have no employees (about 61% of SMEs).

• 1,450,000 businesses have an annual turnover of less than £50,000 of SMEs).

• 1,350,000 businesses have less than £10,000 worth of assets.

Small Businesses by Region

• 38% of SMEs are located in London and the South East (1,400,000 businesses).

• 87% of SMEs are located in England (3,150,000 businesses).

• 5% are located in Scotland.

• 5% are located in Wales.

• 3% are located in Northern Ireland.

By Legal Entity Type

• Almost 2 in 3 businesses are sole traders (2,400,000 businesses)

• Less than 1 in 4 businesses are limited liability companies (870,000 businesses)

• About 1 in 10 businesses are partnerships (including limited liability partnerships).

By Business Age

• The majority of businesses (51%) are aged more than 15 years (1,900,000 businesses).

• About 7% of SMEs are start-ups (aged less than 2 years) (250,000 businesses).

By growth rate:

• About 11% of businesses (320,000 businesses) are high growth businesses, having an average turnover growth of 30%, or more, per annum over a period going back up to 3 years.

By ethnicity:

• 93% of businesses are majority white owned (3,400,000 businesses).

• About 7% of businesses are majority owned by individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds (220,000 businesses).

By gender:

• 75% of businesses are majority owned by males (about 2,700,000 businesses).

• 25% of businesses are majority owned by females (just over 900,000 businesses).

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