UK and US business demographics - Interactive visualisation

Small businesses? They’re bigger than you think. Get a clearer understanding of the UK business landscape through this simple graphic.

Small businesses is big, and it’s getting bigger. The number of new businesses started in the UK is the highest in a decade, and the number of self-employed is at a 40-year high. Trends in the US paint a slightly different picture, with the number of self-employed rising slowly despite the recent economic growth. Accounting for over 99% of businesses in the UK and the US, small businesses are a significant part of the economy and make up about half of the GDP in both countries.

To help make sense of these trends we dug into the official statistics both in the US and the UK and created an interactive visualisation of business demographics in both countries. A little like visualisations showing “If the world were 100 people”, we look at businesses in America and Britain and compare them by employment, turnover, gender of the owner, industry, location, and age of a business.

If we look at the number of people businesses employ, the official statistics show that over three-quarters of businesses in the UK employ less than 5 people and only two businesses in 100 have 50 or more employees.

As such, more than 99% of businesses in the UK are actually small or medium enterprises by HMRC’s definition. The US, however, appears to have more large businesses: 38 out of 100 businesses in America employ more than 5 people.

By annual turnover, 91 out of 100 businesses in Britain make between 0 and £1 million, with only 2% making more than £5 million.

Meanwhile in the United States, as many as 77 businesses don’t go over the $1 million threshold in their turnover, whereas more than one in five (21) do turn over $1 million or more.

Finally, looking at the gender split of business owners, it appears that only 18 out of 100 businesses in the UK are owned by women.

In the United States, on the other hand, there is greater equality, with women owning 28 out of 100 businesses and men owning the remaining 72.

Keen to find out how many businesses in Britain are in England? Interested in seeing how many businesses in the US are in the construction industry?

Head straight to our interactive visualisations for the UK and the US economies.

We would love to know what you think - let us know in the comments!

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