Number of Scottish entrepreneurs at highest level since economic crash

12 Sep 2016

SCOTLAND’S entrepreneurial spirit is providing a multimillion-pound boost to the economy as the number of people working for themselves soars to its highest level since the economic crash.

There are now nearly 300,000 self-employed people in Scotland, accounting for one in 10 jobs across the country.

The largest growth has been in IT and financial services, with success enjoyed by firms like the Edinburgh-based Fanduel fantasy sports business inspiring other entrepreneurs to go it alone.

Sebastian Burnside, senior economist for the Royal Bank of Scotland, has described the rise as “positive news”.

“It is also positive to see the role entrepreneurship is playing within that,” he said. “This appetite, especially in Scotland, is a driving force within this upturn in results.”

According to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland Regional Economic Tracker, self-employment has climbed by 11 per cent in the last eight years, compared to a 0.2 per cent expansion in employee jobs.

And it is women who are leading the way, with three times as many women as men deciding to work for themselves since the 2008 financial collapse.
Fanduel, founded by husband and wife team Nigel and Lesley Eccles, now boasts an estimated worth of £1 billion, while the Skyscanner flight search business led by Gareth Williams saw £11.2bn worth of airline tickets bought via the site in 2015. Both are based in Edinburgh.

Aberdeenshire-based craft beer company BrewDog, founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in 2007, is also among the notable self-starting firms to hit great heights in recent years Employing around 600 people, BrewDog has now opened dozens of bars across the UK, as well as others in the likes of Tokyo and Sao Paulo.

Last year, the company’s sales grew by more than 50 per cent to £45 million, with both Mr Watt and Mr Dickie being awarded MBEs in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours.

Research shows that there are significant geographical differences in the importance of an entrepreneurial spirit to the area.

The Orkney Islands rely heavily on people working for themselves, with one in five there categorised as self-employed. 

In West Dunbartonshire, just six per cent of people are self-employed, while the figure for Glasgow is 10 per cent.

Self-employment is running at 12 per cent in Aberdeenshire and Dundee, with 11 per cent of workers in Edinburgh going it alone. Across the country, the education, professional services and construction sectors have all seen an upward trend towards self-employment.

Mr Burnside said: “From the research It appears flexibility is an important driver of increasing part-time self-employed work. Older self-employed workers are more likely to go part-time. That’s normally in the same industry and job, so it suggests workers are managing their transition to retirement rather than stopping work altogether.”

Source Glasgow Herald

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