Thanks to research performed by Duedil ( we learned this week that there were 5.5% fewer business startups in the UK in 2017 compared with 2016.  This may not sound like too much of a drop however it signals the end of a steady rise in startups that began with the financial crash in 2008.

The important piece of information however is that, despite the drop, there were still almost 650,000 startups last year, down from 686,000 in 2016.

This is an extraordinary total.  It indicates that, over the last few years, millions of people have opted for a living based upon their wits, determination, courage, and sheer hard work.

For most it’s not a bed of roses.  The average working week is about 40 hours.  And average profit is just under 16k.  In other words, take home pay is slightly less than that earned through the minimum wage.

Sadly, the great majority of these business will not last more than a few years.  The obvious reasons relate to a tightening in consumer spending and uncertainties around Brexit.

This is despite a myriad of schemes available that provide business and technical support as well as low cost startup loans.

But here lies the critical problem for many of these fledgling businesses.  There are plenty of people willing and able to ‘push’ them along – providing free advice, financial and legal services, office space and office facilities, as well as a range of loans and grants.

But there is a severe lack of what is perhaps the most important element of all – information that will ‘pull’ people into business e.g. about their potential customers, the people out there who just might have a need for whatever the business is selling.

Imagine the famous Mrs Miggins Pie and Coffee Shop starting to trade today (as featured in the Blackadder saga).  Thanks to being a startup she gets a discount on her rent and can therefore get a decent location on the high street.  And thanks to a mix of grants and loans she can get all the capital equipment she needs.

But Costas is only a few doors away, so it’s going to be tough to get going.  She might soon find herself in business, but without many regular customers to her name, and already in debt.

What a difference it would make if, in addition to receiving the push that she needs, Mrs Miggins can also benefit from the ‘pull’.

E.g. data about the people who are likely to be close by at some point in the day but who are unlikely to make it into Costas.  Data that also suggests when in the day those people might welcome one of Mrs Miggins’ coffees and a pie.  And data that suggests the best way for them to take delivery.

Suddenly she can envisage a business that doesn’t have to compete with Costas in order to survive – because she has figured out how to reach a completely different set of customers, and a set that may be greater in size than the one to be found walking along the high street.

The data is there.  It just needs to be accessed, shaped, analysed, and made totally relevant to the next person dreaming of being an entrepreneur.

If Mrs Miggins had had this information right at the start, she might have decided that she didn’t need a place on the high street and a rental agreement lasting a whole year, or a loan for enough equipment for her to make the whole day’s pies in one go.

She might instead have opted for a completely different business model, one that would give her a fighting chance of lasting much longer than the 3 year average lifespan for a startup – and a fighting chance of growing her business – exactly the outcome that the UK economy needs.


We at Develin specialise in helping businesses like Mrs Miggins to use all the data available to them, in particular to discover where tomorrow’s customers are to be found.    To find out more about the role that data can play in your organisation’s growth, please give us a call.

Paul Clarke