Britain’s army of 2.9m Homepreneurs hold key to local economic growth, says report
Britain’s booming army of 2.9m homepreneurs spend more than £40bn of their earnings in their own local economy and are on track to create over five million freelance jobs, a major new report from Enterprise Nation and Direct Line for Business has revealed.
Britain’s booming army of 2.9m homepreneurs spend more than £40bn  of their earnings in their own local economy and are on track to create over five million freelance jobs, a major new report from Enterprise Nation and Direct Line for Business has revealed.
The Home Business Report reveals the role of home businesses in the British recovery has been under-estimated. Far from being reluctant low-paid hobbyists making little economic impact, the report reveals home based business owners are highly-skilled, highly-educated individuals who are playing a critical role in driving local economies, contributing more than £300bn  annually to the national economy.
While statistics tend to bundle homepreneurs in with general self-employed figures, the report shows those running home-based businesses have little in common with the rest of this group.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the predominant occupations amongst the self-employed in the UK are construction and the service industries. However the report shows the top sectors for homepreneurs as creative, business services and professional consulting including law, science and engineering.
The regions with the highest concentration of home-based businesses in UK are South East (19.3%) and Greater London (17.1%). West Midlands (11.2%), East of England (10.3), the South West (9.6%) and the North West (9.4%) display a medium concentration, while the least popular locations are the North East (3.8%), Yorkshire and the Humber (6.7%) as well as the East Midlands (7.6%).
Emma Jones, founder of small business network Enterprise Nation, said: “It’s clear the socio-economic role of the homepreneur has not been properly understood. They account for 50 per cent of the total self-employed sector and yet they don’t conform to the characteristics of the rest of this growing category.
“There has been no thorough research into home businesses since 2009 and so any assumptions to date have been made on limited evidence. This report finally shows what we’ve understood anecdotally for a while – that homepreneurs are not low-paid hobbyists, they are not being forced to operate under zero hours contracts or longing to get back into the world of employment.
“Instead they are experienced professionals who are using their skills to create value, spend more time at home and money in their local environment while avoiding the financial and time costs associated with holding down a job.
“They are trading nationally and internationally and this diversification both protects them and means their growing contribution will help speed the UK’s economic recovery.”
Jasvinder Gakhal, Head of Direct Line for Business, said: “The results of the Home Business Survey clearly show home based businesses are thriving. They are keeping costs low in starting and growing from home and maximising sales opportunities by leveraging technology. In deepening our understanding of this large and growing sector, Direct Line for Business can play a role in ensuring home based businesses get the relevant support and insurance products they need to protect their business and keep on growing.”
While 64 per cent are women, only 28 per cent of these had children under 10, dispelling the myth that women homepreneurs are motivated to start-up by childcare duties. The top national sector for female homepreneurs is the creative services, and the region with the highest concentration of home-based female-owned businesses was the West Midlands, at a staggering 83.3 per cent. Figures also showed businesses based here had more international customers and were more experienced, with 50 per cent having run a previous firm. They were also less likely to employ or outsource.
The East of England shows highest concentration of male-owned home businesses at 40 per cent and here homepreneurs were more likely to be working on their business part-time, while holding down some form of paid employment.
The South West is one of the most heavily populated by young homeprenuers - an interesting insight given the fact that the region has the oldest population in the UK (ONS, 2013a). Currently, 41% of the total owners in the area fall within the age range of 18 – 34 years. Most have been established within the last two years. They specialise primarily in the creative industries. Another popular location for the younger home business owners is the North West region, where 53% of those surveyed were aged between 25 and 44.
When asked why they started a business, the top answer from all homepreneurs was that it was a lifelong ambition, a chance to exploit an opportunity or a gap in the market or thirdly insecure feelings about a previously-held job.
They are also an optimistic group, with 85 per cent expecting to see growth in the next 12 months, most indicating double digit figures were likely. Interestingly they are not dependent on local consumer markets for growth, a third of them trade internationally and an equal number trade nationally.
But they are also inexperienced in the world of business. For 69 per cent of them, this was their first taste of running a company. For the majority the main source of business advice comes from their local professional network, trade websites or friends and family.
Asked if they could access one thing to help their business to grow, the overwhelming response was a mentor.
Download the full report here.
- According to ONS (2014) estimates of average weekly spending on several components, including food and drinks, restaurants, recreation, household services, and miscellaneous goods and services costs equals £261.7 per family. Therefore it could be argued that the minimum that HBBs contribute to the local economy is nearly 40bn per year, and this is still severely underestimated.
- There are already 2.9 million businesses being run from entrepreneurs’ homes (BIS Business Population Estimates and BIS Small Business Survey). Home based businesses contribute £300 billion in annual turnover to the UK economy (BIS Business Population Estimates and BIS Small Business Survey).
About Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation is a small business network with more than 60,000 members. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses – through expert advice, events, networking and inspiring books. Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by Emma Jones MBE also co-founder of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain. She is author of best-selling business books including Spare Room Startup, Working 5 to 9, Go Global and the StartUp Kit.
Notes to editors
Regional case studies are available on request
Ed Vickers www.jolliessocks.com
Former Exeter University graduate who started social enterprise Jollies Socks so when you buy a pair of socks, a pair goes to a homeless person. Running the business from the family home, Jollies Socks are now being sold nationwide store, John Lewis.
Shoo Rayner www.shoorayner.com
Forest of Dean children’s author and illustrator Shoo Rayner has embraced the web from his shed, and from where he attracts millions of people to his YouTube videos, drawings and ebooks, generating revenue from book.
Jayne Hynes www.kiddyum.com
A former chartered surveyor and mum-of two who spotted a gap in the baby food market, is about to launch her own range of healthy frozen baby and infant food into Sainsbury’s stores across the UK. This enterprise started and continues to be run from the kitchen table at her Manchester home.
Niamh Barker www.thetravelwrapcompany.com/
A converted garage in Dorset is home to a former pharmacist who runs The Travelwrap Company around a husband and six children. The product, a luxury Scottish cashmere travel wrap is being sold online to eight countries outside the UK/Worldwide and wholesale to 15 countries.
Corby Kuffour www.thatsalesite.com
A student at Queen Mary University, Corby launched UK fashion sales website with two friends, running the business from respective student digs. London
Lisa and Tida Finch http://finchittida.com/
The achingly stylish twin sisters making equally stylish laser cut jewellery from a living room studio shared with two friends. Now selling in Urban Outfitters with pieces appearing in major Hollywood films. They are the young urban fashionistas! They are Finchittida Finch. London.
Victoria Cramsie www.paperboywallpaper.co.uk
A working mum who got the idea for Paperboy Interiors from her two boys is making stylish wallpaper, outsourcing to British printers and producers, and being building great challenger brand to quality brands like Sanderson and Laura Ashley. Bath.
Kuldip Sahota http://www.mrsinghssauce.co.uk/
One of seven family members running Mr Singh’s Sauce started by Popa Singh in the garden shed. The company is now a multi-million pound operation selling to Tesco, over 300 independent stores, and retailers across the globe. East London.
Oliver Bridge http://www.cornerstone.co.uk/
The London-based Oxford University graduate, who launched his first business aged 15 (from his parents’ home) and has just raised £160k to launch Cornerstone which delivers razors and shaving cream on subscription. Big ambitions based in a flat shared with his girlfriend.