Return of the cottage industries as micro businesses boom

The micro business community is booming, embracing new technology, reacting to changing consumer habits and revelling in a pro-business climate.

Micro business, firms with between 0-9 employees, numbers have grown to around five million in the UK, up from 3.5 million just 15 years ago and account for 33 per cent of private sector employment, according to research by Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).
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The RSA said the “second age of small”, a reference to cottage industries in pre-industrial Britain, had a vital role to play in creating jobs.

Despite their staff being lower paid and having fewer employment protections than workers in larger firms, the Government’s Workplace Employment Relations Study revealed that micro business staff were loyal, satisfied with their pay, enjoyed being involved in decision-making and were the most satisfied workers in the labour market, the RSA said.
“This report confirms much of what we know about the self-employed. They work incredibly hard and are a significant driver of the UK’s productivity but often don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Chris Bryce, chief executive of the Independent Professionals and the Self Employed told

According to the RSA, while micro businesses were on average less productive than larger firms they were pushing ahead in some of the fastest growing sectors, such as those based on relationships in health, education and social work.

The research also highlighted how micro businesses were ready to engage with the creation of new concepts, experiences and designs which were vital to the music, food and media industries.

Mr Bryce said: “There is a very important message to get out about working for yourself. While it may be hard work, the self-employed are more satisfied with their jobs and are more enthusiastic about their work,” reported
“The smallest businesses need the right kind of support so they can continue making a difference to the UK’s economy. One area needing action is our payment culture.
“A shocking 85 per cent of small businesses suffered from late payment in the last two years – this is simply not acceptable. It holds back businesses from investing in new staff and equipment and can even mean people aren’t able to pay themselves or their workers.”

To read the full report visit