Across the UK, many of the broad factors which influence growth – such as exporting, innovation, investment in software and staff training, management, acquisition, and ambition – may be known. Likewise, many of the inhibitors of growth – such as the complexity of taxation, the challenges of staff recruitment, and shortages of specific skills – are also widely acknowledged.
Yet substantial gaps in our knowledge exist, particularly at a local level. It is clear, not only that different businesses face different obstacles to growth, but also that local conditions can have a huge impact. The more that local policymakers understand their local environment, the better they can tailor their interventions.
This report, produced by the UK’s innovation foundation Nesta in collaboration with the UK technology company Sage, is a data-led guide to the state of SMEs in the UK. We break down the SME landscape, looking at factors such as productivity, rates of growth, and business churn to provide a view of how small business is faring in our towns, cities, and rural areas across the UK. Our analysis then seeks to identify some of the environmental factors that support or hinder the strength of the UK’s SMEs at a local level, from skills to infrastructure.