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The promising lifespan of small businesses in Leicester

Since 2004 Leicester has seen a significant increase in the size of its business community - the amount of business ‘births’ has risen by 57% and the number of business ‘deaths’ is 17% lower than in 2004. There could be a number of reasons to which we can attribute this, from the economic climate, to the location of each business, to the amount of competitors in the water. But what we can see for sure, is that the entrepuneurs of Leicester are opening up their small businesses - and the city is providing an almost ideal place to launch their ventures.

From the graph below, we can see a spike just after 2013 of small business births.  If we look into business related news in 2013/2014 we find that this was the year that the University of Leicester partnered with local small businesses, and more resources began to open up to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Table 1

Also, a business centre called Incubate opened its doors in 2014 to specifically cater for the needs of the startup and small business community. The centre boasts 20 co-working spaces which include desk space, Wi-Fi, events and seminars where start up business owners can glean insight and advice from established business owners.

As we can see from the second graph, the number of business deaths has slowly been decreasing since 2004, meaning there are more businesses opening and staying open. There are the Leicester oldies that have stayed strong since openings like The Very Bazaar, a hidden gem in Silver Street which has been running strong for 42 years, and the Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe on Hotel Street, which has been catering to the sweet tooth for generations.

Table 2

We can see from the graph below that the business births in Leicester trend line is much steeper and more positive than that of the business deaths, meaning that the number of births is increasing more rapidly than deaths are decreasing. More births and fewer deaths is the sign of a thriving business hub.  

Table 3

There are currently more than 10,500 active businesses in Leicester - an 11% increase from 2004.  The city has achieved so much in the past 11 years, slowly working its way up to being one of the best cities to start a small business in. It has already jumped from the 25th best city for business to the 10th best - with a small business survival rate of 54.2%. This means that over half of all small businesses in Leicester make it, which can be attributed to guidance and aide from accelerator programmes such as Incubate and The Dock Leicester. At the Dock they provide one–to-one coaching, grants of up to £2,500 for new startup companies, and workshops where entrepreneurs can network, teach and learn. 

Table 4

Although the above graph shows that it hasn’t always been easy for Leicester businesses – for example in 2009 and 2010 when business deaths outweighed births – things are definitely improving in the city. The recession hit hard in 2009 but as we can see the city really bounced back with the help of determined entrepreneurs and Leicester City Council, who previously launched an £8.3million Local Investment Programme with the aim of increasing employment and enterprise opportunities. The Programme ran from 2007 up to 2013 and as you can see, the results speak for themselves.

Graphs based on Business Demography 2013 report from the ONS.

Image credit: NotFromUtrecht