The UK is a nation of microbusinesses.
There were 5.7 million microbusinesses in the UK in 2020, accounting for 96% of all businesses. Covid-19 has plunged many of them into financially precarious situations, with nearly two thirds of microbusiness owners believing they might not withstand the pressures of the pandemic. However, despite the challenges of the last year, the pandemic has triggered a surge in business start-ups across major economies, as entrepreneurs seek to respond to the rapidly changing needs of individuals and companies and laid-off workers launch their own ventures. 85% of microbusiness owners intend to remain self employed and 10% are planning to start new ventures.
The power of the microbusiness as part of a collective of small firms is considerable but all too often overlooked and marginalised by multinational corporations with lavish sustainability programmes and CSR initiatives.
Tesco and Amazon alone will not save us from the economic effects of COVID-19, nor the consequences of climate change and increasing inequalities. It’s not big companies that take the economy in new directions, but the thousands of small independent businesses and start-ups hidden away in homes, workspaces, trading estates and shops across the country.
Small businesses can play a critical role in promoting social mobility and helping nations reach their green targets and plans to achieve carbon neutrality.
The everyday micro-businesses – taxi drivers, hair salons, the kebab shop – who have been the heroes of local communities’ response to and recovery from COVID-19 – could be the unlikely heroes to tackle society’s most pressing issues.