Many of these people are not entrepreneurs in the traditional sense, but are just trying to create a job for themselves.
Ten years ago, the Cabinet Office made a set of predictions about the forthcoming business decade. It foresaw the real emergence of a UK 'e-economy' with faster nimbler firms driven by technology and bigger companies shrinking to more manageable scales. It anticipated the growth of more IP-based businesses, more outsourcing of public sector services and a steady flow of over-50s wanting and needing second careers.
With the exception of the banking crisis and recession, these predictions have proved to be true and this change is set to continue, with the next 10 years heralding a 'seismic shift' in the UK business landscape, the likes of which has not been seen since the original industrial revolution, according to a futurology report launched this week by Bibby Financial Services.
The ‘2020 Vision - the Future of Business’ report focuses on the future of business over the next decade. Among its key findings it states that big companies won’t be able to absorb all the extra workers produced by a projected five million increase in Britain’s population by 2020. So there are certain to be more of the small and medium-sized businesses that politicians and other policymakers see as the 'engines of growth'. By the end of the decade it is likely that there will be over one million more companies than there are today, as Britain’s population of SMEs touches six million.
Yet, it’s equally clear that many of these people are not entrepreneurs in the traditional sense. They are not seeking to build a business let alone a succession of businesses. They are just trying to create a job for themselves. In the words of one, "I just want to provide for myself and my family".
However, despite progress, the report warns that entrepreneurs of the next decade will still depend as much on business fundamentals, such as access to funding, as their present-day counterparts.
Edward Rimmer, UK chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, comments: "If anything, the past few years have shown that UK businesses have the ability to adapt to face challenges head-on and evolve to respond to new opportunities.
"However, despite their adaptability, businesses can do little without access to the cash they need to grow and develop. The way companies need, use and access funding will certainly change in the coming years and it is important the finance industry evolves to meet these new demands head-on."
The report also foresees the use of technology, the blurred line between home and work, conjoined business and personal bank accounts and the lack of physical business premises making companies themselves harder to identify.
In addition, the report highlights the emergence of a much greater dependency upon IT and mobile commerce by 2020, as access points and connection speeds increase exponentially and entrepreneurs seek to tap further the low overheads and barriers to entry afforded by a virtual business.
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