Last year, FSB set out to uncover the most entrepreneurial places in Scotland. The results show a wide variation between rural and post-industrial communities.
We know that Canada and Estonia are more entrepreneurial according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. But we know very little about what entrepreneurship looks like within Scotland. Until now.
FSB has crunched the numbers for 479 towns and found out four things you might not know about entrepreneurship and self-employment.
1. Rural Scotland is more entrepreneurial
Ullapool (17.9%), Newtonmore (17.2%) and Tarbert (15.4%) have the highest levels of self-employment. People from these towns are two and a half times more likely to be self-employed than the average Scot.
In fact, almost of the towns in top 20 are rural and home to a thriving tourism sector.
2. Poorer areas have low self-employment
In stark contrast to Ullapool and Newtonmore where around one in five people are self-employed, people living in poorer towns or those dominated by military bases are far less likely to run their own business. This includes places like Gowkthrapple (2.7%) on the outskirts of Wishaw, Garelochhead (2.8%) and High Valleyfield (2.9%).
These towns, and others who make up the bottom ten, still bear the scars of Scotland’s industrial past and have higher levels of deprivation and social housing – results which chime with a recent UK Government review.
3. Self-employment thrives in healthy local economies
Why does Ullapool have higher levels of self-employment than Leuchars? Why does Port Glasgow trail Pittenweem? There’s no simple answer to these questions and FSB's interactive research has been produced to spark conversations about local entrepreneurship.
But what we do know is that the health of the local economy is critical. Self-employment flourishes in economies with low unemployment. Pittenweem has an unemployment rate of 2.3% compared to Port Glasgow’s 6.2%.
Where there are more jobs, more people also work for themselves.
4. Self-employed people can find a better work/life balance
Self-employment is booming in Scotland and has increased by 66% since 2000. There are now more people earning a living through self-employment than work for the NHS in Scotland (161,800).
This meteoric rise has drawn attention from think tanks, governments and journalists. Headlines like “self-employed people live in poverty” are common. Unsurprisingly the National Federation of the Self-Employed and Small Businesses, FSB’s full title, takes a different line.
Although self-employment is not without its problems, we believe that those who go it alone should be championed and supported. Self-employed people are often happier and more satisfied at work; can juggle life’s challenges more easily; and are in it for the long haul.
Find out how many people work for themselves where you live.
Barry McCulloch is Senior Policy Advisor for FSB in Scotland
See how the FSB have campaigned on this issue