small business owners coming from a meeting
A new study shows the significant growth of micro-enterprises in the UK over the past decade. Unsplash

According to a recent analysis by Mastercard and Opinium, the entrepreneurial spirit in the UK is soaring as the number of micro-enterprises (0-9 people) continues to increase yearly, especially over the past 10 years. While medium and large companies have reached a plateau, small businesses are defying the trend and thriving in the country.

In 2022, the UK witnessed a growth of 31,000 micro and small firms, totalling 1.4 million. However, compared to medium- and large-sized businesses, optimism is relatively low among the smallest businesses. Less than 10 employees and 10 to 49-employee companies showed less enthusiasm for future performance, whereas larger companies showed a greater sense of optimism.

The UK's smallest firms are less optimistic about their future success than medium- and large-sized businesses are. The recent analysis stated that less than a quarter (23.9%) of businesses with 10 or fewer employees expect their performance to improve during the next 12 months.

Only 33.7 per cent of employers with between 10 and 49 employees were upbeat about their employees' performance. In contrast, 43 per cent of businesses with 100 to 249 employees had positive outlooks about the future and expected improved performance over the coming year.

The research also revealed one of the industries least likely to have had a good performance in 2022 was commerce, with only 15.3 per cent of retailers reporting an improvement in their performance in the year prior to April 2023. Despite having the most turnover and the most employees, this is the case.

Small businesses constitute the UK's economic engine, according to Kelly Devine, President of Mastercard UK & Ireland. He said that they make up more than 98 per cent of all businesses, provide half of all business revenue, and employ two-thirds of all workers.

Devine emphasised the importance of big corporations and the government giving small businesses the tools, money, and regulations they need to be successful. Devine acknowledges the entrepreneurial desire in the UK but expresses concern about the lower optimism among small enterprises. He added that supporting their growth is essential for overall economic progress.

Small businesses are essentially the lifeblood of our economy, as Mary Portas, a businesswoman and activist stated that they are tenacious, resourceful and innovative. Despite the fact that this is one of the most challenging times to manage a small business, she pointed out that their numbers are rising.

Additionally, there has never been a moment when individuals have been more enthusiastic about what they do. Portas finds inspiration in the drive of small business owners to continuously improve and adapt to the always-changing business environment.

Bill Esterson, a Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister for Business and Industry highlights the true entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by small firms in the UK. He acknowledges the significant contributions made by startups in Manchester and emphasised the importance of increasing support for business owners looking to expand.

Mastercard's Thrive Street, a component of the Strive UK program, offers free training and guidance to address key issues faced by small businesses, such as online presence, cash flow management, and social media strategies.

The Strive UK program has already benefited over 500,000 small businesses and collaborates with organisations like Enterprise Nation, Digital Boost, and Be the Business to support SMEs' growth.