Tomorrow’s Business: 13th July

Lockdown hasn’t dampened entrepreneurial spirit as almost 200,000 new companies launch

A massive 190,155 companies have started up since the UK went into lockdown on March 24th, an O2 Business analysis of Companies House data has revealed.

Despite much of the country’s industry and services shutting down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the figures (analysed up to the end of June) suggest that the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit hasn’t been quashed.

Indeed, entrepreneurs have been gaining in confidence: only 42,254 companies were formed in April at the height of the pandemic, compared to 58,892 in May. Last month, the June figure was 77,575, an increase of 84% from just two months prior.

The analysis was undertaken by O2 Business, which has seen an increase in small and medium-sized businesses upgrading their tech during lockdown, with increasing demand for security and cloud software solutions.

Among the companies starting up during this period were more than 8,000 construction companies, while 2,646 hairdressing and beauty companies were incorporated as clever entrepreneurs seek to take advantage of Britons eager for their first haircut after three months without access to a hairdresser.

As the nation found itself without any restaurants and cafes to go to, the takeaway sector boomed, with 3,448 take away food shops and mobile food stands incorporated.

According to the records, London is the nation’s start-up capital by volume alone, with 51,937 businesses incorporated. However, when taking population into account, it was beaten by its Northern rival Manchester, where 4,014 new companies were registered – meaning one per 143 people (versus one per 172 in London).*

Leeds (4,539), Glasgow (2,243) and Bristol (2,076) also saw new companies springing up in their thousands.

Businesses may not have been able to find and view retail or office units during lockdown, but digital technology meant there were other ways to set up without needing to leave your home. O2 Business offers tools for both remote working and mixed-location offices, a range of devices to stay connected to customers, suppliers and employees, as well as 24-hour access to tech expertise and digital solutions.

An O2 Business spokesperson said: “This has been an extremely challenging time for businesses across the UK. Companies are faced with the toughest trading conditions they’ve seen in a lifetime.

“Despite the difficulties of launching a new business at this moment, it’s encouraging to see so many entrepreneurs ready to get the nation back on its feet. The number of businesses adapting to continue serving their local communities is inspiring, and technology has proven to be a significant enabler in helping entrepreneurs to continue innovating.

“As we try and adjust to this new normal, it’s important that all businesses – new and established – work on their plans for futureproofing, upskilling their staff when it comes to technology and ensuring they’re not left behind when it comes to digital expertise as we start rebuilding Britain again.”

The tools available through O2 Business can help firms transition through lockdown. O2 Business offers a Just Call Me service for easy conference calling (dialling into one phone and avoiding expensive fees), instant messaging and video calling with Microsoft Teams, and cloud-based calls with MiCloud – ideal for when staff are separated across countries and continents.

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