The rise of home businesses – a major growth sector for Scotland

Home businesses could offer Scotland an economic windfall, says Simon Burckhardt, MD of cloud-based communications provider Vonage UK, who shares his insights with Scotland B2B…

The UK business community has been more pessimistic than usual over the last year, and Scotland is no exception. But one sector continues to grow and create value – home businesses. Research from Vonage UK shows that 184,000 businesses in Scotland operate from home, making up the majority of Scotland’s businesses at 54%.
Simon Burckhardt, Vonage UK
Simon Burckhardt, Vonage UK
Home business ownership has risen considerably since the 2008 crash, and Scotland has become a haven for these entrepreneurial ventures, increasing its home business count by 22% in just a few short years. These enterprises are financially successful too, but an average revenue of £63,700 per business.
Scottish home entrepreneurs have a different profile to most business owners, with the majority (52%) over-55. They are also twice as likely to be female as other business owners, and one in five would be unemployed if they did not run their business. This shows the benefit that these enterprises provide Scotland’s economy, by engaging a portion of the workforce that would otherwise not be contributing.
There have been several recent investments that have benefited the sector, such as the £60 million in EU funding for Scottish SMEs, and the Scottish Growth Scheme, which has made a further £500 million available for private business.
Through our work with small businesses, we find that many need more than financial help, and benefit from infrastructure investment in rural broadband. Our research shows that IT businesses are the most common home business in Scotland, so improving digital infrastructure would help the bottom line considerably. Allowing Scotland’s IT businesses to flourish would make the economy more competitive internationally, and prove that small businesses can thrive even when big money corporations remain cautious.
The government should look at ways to promote home businesses in other ways, such as by providing networking opportunities for those in more remote rural areas. Helping these entrepreneurs to share best practice empowers individuals and benefits businesses. Technology can eradicate the advantages of owning a business in a highly-populated area, and lead to an explosion of growth in Scotland’s rural areas.
There are further benefits to investing in tech on an individual level. Moving to the cloud, for example, enables a home-based business to avoid costly upfront costs on their business line and to avail of services like call recording for compliance and training. This means big company features without big company prices, and allows professional record keeping at a fraction of the cost.
Rural businesses also benefit from features such as choose your own number, allowing them to make and receive calls from an area code of their choice, wherever they are located. Businesses can even have staff at multiple locations working all a single business system, transferring calls between each despite working from separate locations.
This means you can be on call 24 hours a day, with access to all the information you need to maintain a consistent business presence and provide an “always on” experience for customers – not quite as bad as it sounds when you’re able to get out of the office whenever you want!
The success of Scotland’s home business sector shows that strong, stable growth is still possible. The growth of these enterprises shows the potential for future business success, and the whole country should celebrate this.
Vonage UK provides cloud-based communications services for UK small businesses.
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