Two million people started side project during lockdown, claims Virgin StartUp

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New research from Virgin StartUp, Virgin’s not-for-profit entrepreneurial hub, reveals that one in three (33%) Brits dream of becoming an entrepreneur and would like to set up their own business.

According to the study, approximately two million (5%) people have started a side project during lockdown while a further one in four (24%) said that although they don’t currently have a passion project, they would be interested in starting a business alongside their main employment.

Wanting to be your own boss is among the main motivations for becoming self-employed (49%), alongside a better work-life balance (45%), disliking existing jobs (17%), and finding it hard to be managed (14%). And it seems as though home is the place that sparks the most creativity, as one in five (20%) who have their own business launched from their living room, with a further one in seven (14%) setting up from their bedroom.

The COVID-19 economic reality seems to be accelerating entrepreneurialism. As the UK entered lockdown on the 23rd March 2020, the number of businesses set up almost halved, with a -43% drop compared with the same week in 2019. But confidence started to recover in May 2020 after the announcement that lockdown would lift from June, as the number of new businesses launching bounced back dramatically (from 9,989 to 14,525 within a week following the announcement).

From May 2020 onwards, the average number of businesses set up per week during 2020 was 30% higher than the same period the year before, jumping from 12,446 in 2019 to a huge 16,157 in 2020. And it seems as though the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit is now stronger than ever, with an average of 15,751 businesses set up in Q1 this year – an increase of 19% compared to the same period in 2020.

1 in 3 young people planning to become ‘mobilepreneurs’

The study reveals that 26% of women are concerned that they don’t have the relevant skillset to start a business, compared with 19% of men. Since it was founded, Virgin StartUp data shows that 41% of its founders are women, compared with the national average of 20%, so a huge number of women entrepreneurs have been seeking expertise and funding.

In line with the government’s plan to level-up, the figures reveal a regional spread of budding entrepreneurs, with the North East home to two in five (39%) people dreaming of starting a business, the highest of all regions in the mainland UK, followed by the West Midlands (36%).

Region % budding entrepreneurs
Northern Ireland 41
North East 39
West Midlands 36
London 35
South East 33
Scotland 33
Wales 32
Yorkshire & The Humber 32
North West 30
East Anglia 30
East Midlands 29
South West 28
Chris Price
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