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The births and deaths of SMEs in the UK

Written by Joe Hinton on .

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Research Into The SME Birth and Death Figures

How to avoid being one of the Government’s ‘Business Death’ statistics

Most businesses are classified as Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). But what is a small and medium-size Enterprise?

The main factors in defining the category of an SME are as follows:

  1. Staff headcount
  2. Either turnover or balance sheet total
Company category  
Staff headcount  
  or   Balance sheet total   
Medium-sized < 250 ≤ € 50 m ≤ € 43 m
Small < 50 ≤ € 10 m ≤ € 10 m
Micro < 10 ≤ € 2 m ≤ € 2 m

SME Businesses and UK Economy Growth

SME’s are vital for the countries economic growth, accounting for 99 per cent of all business with 5.9 million private sector businesses in the UK in 2019, increasing by 200,000 compared to 2018. SME’s also play a huge part in adding wealth, education, regional values and employment rates to many towns, villages and rural areas within the UK.

The table below shows business births (new business) and business deaths (businesses that ceased trading) from 2011 to 2018. 

The business birth rate is active business in the UK that began trading in the reporting year and business death rate is the proportion of active businesses that ceased trading in the reporting year.

business birth rates uk

In the latest available figures, there were 381,000 business births in the UK in 2018, (roughly the same as the previous year). Business deaths in 2018 were 336,000 (down by 26000) meaning that net growth was around 45,000.

These figures do not show the regional or industry variations, we all know that retail is having a tough time at present and some parts of the country see greater ‘death’ rates.

Interestingly there is a correlation between businesses that survive and those that seek help:

  • 93% of SME owners say that mentoring helps them to succeed (source
  • 70% of businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more (source FSB)
  • 67% of businesses report an increase in productivity due to mentoring (source


Only 28% of businesses make use of a business mentor? (source

9 out of 10 Companies Believe They Don’t Need a Business Mentor

So why do less than one in three business owners use a mentor? Interestingly I was referred to a possible new client today by a long standing contact of mine. He told me he had felt for some time that he was finding things tough, doing too much himself and didn’t feel totally in control but found it difficult after eleven years of trading to admit he needed help. In addition, he wasn’t sure where to find a Business Mentor.

I was able to reassure him that he was far from alone, nine out of ten business owners we meet feel the same way. The image below highlights the fact that as a business grows (scales) then the role of the business owner changes. We believe there is a direct correlation between the growth of a business and the changing role of the owner.

What Is The Role of a Business Mentor

Our role as Business Mentors is to help the business owner develop his or her skill set to enable them to keep pace with the growth of their business.

business scaling

Local Business Mentor Near Me – Free Session

So, if you feel the same way why not take advantage of our complimentary mentoring session with a Business Mentor local to your business, search for one near you today to begin your success journey and not another statistic of a dying business.

SME Business Mentoring No Contract

With UKBM there are no contracts to enter into, we do business on the shake of a hand and our pledge is that if we work for you and you’re not happy then you don’t pay.

What have you got to lose, aside from avoiding being part of the Government's SME Death Statistics – Call us today on 0845 680 3634 or send a message via our Contact Form.

Book your complimentary mentoring session today
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