The Entrepreneurial Spirit of the UK

Entrepreneurial opportunity: demand and growth opportunities

We wanted to go a stage further to analyse where growth opportunities existed for various businesses in different sectors by doing two things, the first was analysing individual SIC codes (standard industrial classification of economic activities) to see which business sectors were thriving in 2021 by the number of new companies formed in each sector.

To do this we looked at the SIC code for each company formed in 2021. There are over 600 of these codes that enable businesses registering themselves with Companies House, to provide a code which helps to describe what their business does. As businesses can apply more than one SIC code to their business, this took some sifting through to get to a logical grouping of businesses in different sectors, but has enabled us to show the below table which makes for interesting reading.

Number of companies formed in 2021 in each sector

Sector Number of companies formed
Retail 119,948
Professional services 116,669
Real estate 109,570
Commercial services 67,858
Hospitality 64,404
Construction 61,035
Wholesale 45,578
Information and communication 37,715
Manufacturing 36,583
Health and social work 36,573
Transportation and storage 35,594
Financial and insurance 35,448
Trades 31,999
Arts, entertainment and recreation 26,480
Other service activities 25,537
Education 20,473
Automotive 20,424
Scientific and technical 15,189
Hair and beauty 11,841
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 5,996
Domestic services 3,844
Water supply and sewerage 2,979
Public admin and defence 2,832
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning 2,298
Mining and quarrying 1,297

The vast, varied and flexible retail industry bounced back in a big way in 2021 after a very uncertain pandemic-hit 2020. Many businesses had to pivot their offerings to online-only to reflect the changing state of our high streets and, thanks to this, growth in the industry shows no sign of abating. Clothing stores sales volumes reached above pre-coronavirus levels for the first time in November 2021, whilst other retailers such as computer stores, toy stores and jewellery stores, reported sales volumes were 20.6% above February 2020 levels.

Perhaps most interestingly, the real estate sector incorporating estate agents and property management solutions was a significant growth sector. UK house prices in 2021 showed their fastest growth rate in 15 years, mirrored by the impressive 109,570 companies formed in this sector to take advantage of an industry buoyed by stamp duty holidays and the UK’s enduring love for all things bricks and mortar.

We wanted to drill down still further into eight key sectors (including real estate) to see where the demand is and where the opportunity lies for varying types of businesses within these sectors. To do this, we looked at Google search demand for numerous businesses in all major UK towns and cities e.g. ‘architect in Ipswich’ to show us the demand. We then compared this demand to the amount of Google listed businesses of that type in each place, to give us an overall number of ‘searches per business listing’. We’ve included the top five most searched for businesses in each of the eight sectors we have selected so if you’re a budding architect wondering where to set up your practice to maximise opportunity, you’ve come to the right place.