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Simply Business reveals the fastest-growing small business sectors for 2021

3-minute read

Simply Business

Simply Business

21 January 2021

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Simply Business reveals the fastest-growing small business sectors for 2021

  • Despite the recession, 2021 is set to be a year of growth for a whole host of SMEs
  • Leading small business insurer publishes data showing home bakers are the fastest-growing trade, with a huge 157% increase from 2019 to 2020
  • Couriers, mobile hairdressers and property maintenance will also drive SME growth this year
  • Wales (31% increase), North West England (29% increase) and Scotland (28% increase) are the UK hotspots for new SMEs

As the economy battles a pandemic induced recession, the small business insurer Simply Business analysed trades from across their customer base - looking at the year-on-year rise in requests for small business insurance - to uncover the fastest growing sectors and regions among SMEs.

The data reveals that requests from home baking businesses rose the fastest, with a 157% year-on-year increase from 2019 to 2020. This increase comes as lockdowns presented people across Britain with the opportunity to turn their passion for baking into a ‘self-raising’, successful small business.

Courier services also saw an 80% increase, driven by mass closures of bricks and mortar premises across the economy and a greater need to transport parcels, at a time where the UK postal service was under almost continuous pressure.

Property maintenance was the third fastest-growing sector, with a 30% increase in new business policies throughout 2020, perhaps reflecting increased demand for home improvement services amongst those working from home in spare rooms or at kitchen tables.

Other trades which also saw increases include; roofers (29%), mobile hairdressers (25%), Gardners (25%), electricians (24%), cake makers (24%), online retailers (18%) and builders (11%).

Top ten fastest-growing small business sectors:

Industry:% Increase (year on year)
Home baking157%
Property maintenance/handyman30%
Mobile hairdressers25%
Landscape gardeners/garden maintenance25%
Cake maker and decorator24%
Online retailers18%

Simply Business also reviewed the regional hotspots for trade SMEs in 2020, with Wales, North West England and Scotland taking the top three spots. Of the top 10 trades that grew fastest in 2020, Wales saw a 31% increase in new small businesses, followed by the North West (29% increase) and Scotland (28% increase).

With the UK steadily in another national lockdown, which is set to continue until the spring, it is expected these trends will continue throughout 2021, driven by a greater need for home and outdoor businesses.

Top regions for SME growth in 2020, of the 10 fastest growing small business sectors:

Region (of top ten trades)% Increase
North West England29%
North East England24%
South West England24%
East Anglia23%
The Midlands21%
South East England20%
South Central England20%

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: ‘Small businesses and the self-employed have been hit harder than most by the effects of this pandemic.

“So it’s encouraging to see green shoots of growth emerge, particularly those seizing opportunities to make viable small businesses in the home baking, courier and delivery and domestic services industries.

“SMEs play a pivotal role in the UK economy by generating £2 trillion annually and accounting for 99% of all British businesses. Put simply, for the UK economy to recover, we need UK small businesses to recover and drive the next phase of our growth.


For further information, please contact:

Frank PR
[email protected]

Data from Simply Business customer base of over 800,000 small business customers from across the UK, conducted in January 2021. Top 10 trades have the top new business policies (equal to or greater than 1000) taken out in 2020 vs 2019. Simply Business analysed 959 different policy trades.

2019 - 228,471 total number of new policies taken out with Simply Business
2020 - 217,538 total number of new policies taken out with Simply Business

Top ten fastest-growing small business sectors:

Industry:No. of new business policies in 2019No. of new business policies in 2020% Increase
Home baking10102595157%
Property maintenance/handyman5038654930%
Mobile hairdressers4551568225%
Landscape gardeners/garden maintenance5121609725%
Cake maker and decorator1354167324%
Online retailers1270149618%

Top regions for SME growth in 2020, of the 10 fastest growing small business sectors:

Region (of top ten trades)No. of new businesses policies in 2019No. of new business policies in 2020% Increase
North West England4494581429%
North East England4773589924%
South West England4228526024%
East Anglia6148754023%
The Midlands5458660521%
South East England5299635020%
South Central England4960595520%

About Simply Business

Simply Business is one of the UK’s biggest business insurance providers, specialising in public liability insurance for SMEs and insuring over 900,000 small businesses and landlords across Britain.

Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service, delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. Using the power of tech and data to create the best possible customer experiences, Simply Business employs over 800 people across offices in London, Northampton, and Boston in the US.

Owing to its internal underwriting capability, Simply Business can cover over 1,000 trade types – ranging from plumbers to accountants to dog walkers. An accredited B Corp for their positive social impact, Simply Business has also been voted the Sunday Times Best Company To Work For twice in a row.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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