Happy Valley revealed as UK’s fastest growing small business hub

New data reveals that Calder Valley, setting for smash hit BBC police drama Happy Valley, was the fastest growing constituency for small businesses in the past 12 months

·       Merseyside and Cheshire strongly represented, with three areas in the top 10

·       Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland also feature

·       Data comes from GoDaddy’s multi-year research effort, Venture Forward, which analyses data from more than 2.3 million microbusinesses

London 9 May 2023: Calder Valley – the setting for the smash hit BBC drama Happy Valley – has been revealed as the fastest-growing microbusiness hub in Britain.

Venture Forward, an annual international research initiative by GoDaddy that analyses data from more than British 2.3 million microbusinesses, gives every constituency in Britain a Microbusiness Density score – by mapping the concentration of microbusiness owners against local population sizes.

Calder Valley in West Yorkshire saw its Microbusiness Density score grow by 70% over the past year, the highest of anywhere in Britain. Yorkshire produced two constituencies in the top 10 with Redcar at nine, alongside constituencies from North West England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Top 10 fastest growing constituencies for Microbusiness Density in Britain:

1. Calder Valley, Yorkshire (+70%)
2. Torfaen, Wales (+62%)
3. Airdrie and Shotts, Scotland (+30%)
4. Wirral West, Cheshire (+27%)
5. Knowsley, Merseyside (+27%)
6. Mid Ulster, Northern Ireland (+26%)
7. Gordon, Scotland (+25%)
8. Liverpool, West Derby (+24%)
9. Redcar (+22%)
10. Bradford East (+19%)

Surge in sidehustles closes North-South gap

Last year’s Venture Forward data revealed a stark North-South divide when it came to Britain’s microbusinesses, with the majority found in London, the South East and South West. With all 10 of the fastest growing Microbusiness Densities located outside the South of England this year, it appears this could be changing.

The growth of the side hustle economy may be contributing to this trend. 2023 Venture Forward data shows that over half (54%) of all GB microbusinesses started since the cost-of-living crisis began  in 2022 are ‘side hustles’ which are primarily providing owners with supplemental income, alongside other employment.

45% of microbusinesses in Scotland are side hustles, with Wales and the North of England in a similar position (44% and 45% respectively).  

One such side-hustler is Craig Moffat, founder of Clean Wheels, a cycle mechanic, coaching and sales service based in Calderdale in the Calder Valley.

Craig isn’t surprised to see Calder Valley emerge as one of Britain’s fastest growing entrepreneurial communities: “People here have a wonderful entrepreneurial spirit, and the cost-of-living crisis has exacerbated a desire to support local businesses in the community. We live in an area made up of small villages, towns and hamlets, people can’t afford to travel miles in their car for services now, so they turn local – which helps our microbusinesses flourish. I would not want to move my business anywhere else.”

“I built a significant customer base during the lockdown as people wanted to experience the freedom cycling can offer at a time when movement was limited. Since then, we’ve seen many loyal customers continue to come back to us, thanks in no small part to having a professional website.”

Andrew Gradon, Head of GoDaddy UK & Ireland, said: “Venture Forward demonstrates the enormous contribution made by Britain’s microbusinesses. They have the power to add billions to the economy, while providing jobs and opportunity in their local communities. When they thrive, we all do.

“It is heartening to see the growth in microbusinesses across Scotland, Wales and the North of England thriving. Last year’s Venture Forward study revealed a North-South divide in Britain’s entrepreneurial landscape, but this year’s data suggests that it could be starting to close.

“There are very few research studies that focus specifically on companies with under 10 employees, which are the engine of the economy. They are under-researched, misunderstood and often under-served. GoDaddy aims to change that by sharing this data with businesses and policymakers, helping them to make informed decisions about entrepreneurs and the challenge and opportunities they face.”

To find out more about GoDaddy’s Venture Forward research study, visit:  www.godaddy.com/ventureforward 

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