Opinion

Charlie Mullins: The UK is a nation of entrepreneurs, not just shopkeepers

4 min read

05 September 2016

This week is, traditionally, one of the busiest in business. The schools are back from summer holidays and, therefore, so are many of the business owners that drive the economy forward.

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And it appears the ranks of these entrepreneurs have swollen this year, which is fantastic news and demonstrates the growing attraction of business ownership in Britain.

According to research by StartUp Britain, entrepreneurs are starting new companies at a record pace of 80 an hour. 

The government-backed national enterprise campaign has interrogated Companies House files to discover that 342,927 new businesses were registered in the first six months of this year.

As a result of the entrepreneurial spirit possessed by these individuals, it looks like the country will be on course to smash the record number of companies established in a year, 608,110, which was set in 2015.

Interestingly, StartUp Britain also broke the figures down into regions, as part of its fifth annual tour of Britain. Travelling around the country in a Routemaster bus, the campaign has been visiting UK towns and cities to raise awareness of entrepreneurship. 

And it looks like they’ve been getting a positive reaction as a number of UK regions are proving to be hotbeds for entrepreneurship. London, as you’d expect, leads the way, based on its large population, but other areas, including Bromsgrove and Lichfield in the Midlands have become hubs for startups.

I was also pleased to see Warrington in Cheshire in the top ten locations of new companies per 1,000 residents. The town will always have a place in my heart after I spent time there a few years ago filming Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire. 

Read more from Charlie Mullins:

The spirit of the people I met there was indomitable and I am delighted to see it is manifesting itself through entrepreneurship.

Overall, these statistics reinforce the view that the UK should no longer be stereotyped as a nation of shopkeepers, but a nation of entrepreneurs. 

While many of these new startup owners probably wouldn’t have put “entrepreneur” on the list of their dream jobs when speaking to school careers advisors, what they have done is turn a passion into a business.

It’s what I did back in 1979 when I started Pimlico Plumbers. All I ever wanted to be was a plumber, but I also knew I could do things differently to others and the only way to make that happen was to become my own boss. After my plumbing apprenticeship, it was the best decision I ever made.

My hope for these new startups is that they not only survive and provide a good income to support the entrepreneurs and their families, but they also are able to flourish and grow to a stage where they can create employment for others.

Building a business from a simple idea into a profitable enterprise that creates and sustains employment has to be the ultimate success for an entrepreneur. For me, that’s the cornerstone of private enterprise having a positive effect on the economy and society.

Charlie Mullins is the founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers – and a regular contributor to Real Business.

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