Boom for North East's micro businesses

Figures released show that the region is at the forefront of new small firms with more people in Newcastle taking the chance to set up their own business

Jamie Mussett and Annelies Mackay, who run Ninety Nine in the centre of Newcastle
Jamie Mussett and Annelies Mackay, who run Ninety Nine in the centre of Newcastle

More micro businesses are setting up in Newcastle than anywhere else, research shows.

Despite a reputation for having a dominant public sector, new figures suggest many in the North East are taking the chance to set up their own business.

Micro businesses, typically with just a few employers and an initially low turnover, are on the rise despite continuing economic uncertainty.

Freelancer.co.uk, an online market place for small firms, said Newcastle and Brighton has seen the highest annual growth in new micro businesses, at 24%.

Bill Little, the website’s European director, said: “This has been different from other recessions in that people can set up businesses really quickly.

“People are being made redundant and there has been a huge boom in self-employment. Even though the recession was difficult, it gave an opportunity to lots of people starting up businesses.”

One of those hoping to make a success of it is Jamie Mussett who, eight weeks ago, opened the Ninety Nine fast food venue in Newcastle’s Central Arcade.

And while he might not have taken a wage yet, he has managed to see the business grow already, with him and his co-founder girlfriend taking on additional staff to help meet growing demand. The 24-year-old said his decision to go for it came from wanting to be a success, rather than just cooking for other employers.

“I’ve always cooked, and just wanted to do this for myself now. I know what I want the company to look like, I have a vision for a brand not a business, and it’s going really well so far.

“The day-to-day running of a new business is rock solid – there is always something else you have to be doing, but I think we’ll see that it’s worth it.”

Last night, Ross Smith, policy director at the North East Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the figures. He said: “This has to be taken as a good sign as the North East needs more businesses to help grow our economy and create sustainable jobs. Even if some have perhaps been started out of necessity, that doesn’t mean to say they can’t be a success.

“However, the first few years of a new business are crucial and it’s vital they have the support they need in this stage. We will know better in two to three years’ time how much impact this will have on the economy.”

The research comes as the UK faces a lost decade of economic “stagnation” because of the current rate of growth, the TUC has warned.

A study by the union organisation showed that rising population has been the driving force behind economic growth in recent years.

But GDP income per head is lower than when the Coalition Government took office in 2010 and will not return to its pre-recession level until 2018 at the current rate, said the TUC.

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