At the beginning of last year there were just under 5.7 million private sector businesses in the UK. Of these, the vast majority (just under 4.3 million) were single-person businesses, i.e. with no employees, with a further 1.1 million employing up to 9 people.
What the statistics don’t show is how much these businesses use each other, as sub-contractors, service suppliers and collaborators.
These businesses are often referred to as ‘lifestyle’ businesses, because their object is not to generate capital as such, but to enable the owner to enjoy autonomy, agency, mastery, purpose and connection – which often outweigh the salary they used to earn.
Another way of looking at these businesses, is as a simple continuation of pre-capitalist independent traders, craftsmen, professionals and journeymen.
So perhaps the best way to help these businesses is not to try and force them into a capitalist mode (by definition, we can’t all become Amazon), but to support them to achieve better lifestyles for themselves and the people they work with.
After all, that’s an impact of at least 8.6 million people.