Age old questions many entrepreneurs ask themselves, is do I need a partner? Will I be able to run a business? Many think that starting a business or growing one is only for the rich but in truth anyone can start a business with the right idea and work ethic you can have a successful business.

There are over 5.7 Million privately owned companies in the UK generating over 2 trillion in annual turnover. Private companies in the UK employ over 27 million workers compared to only 5.36m workers in the public sector. A recent survey showed 1 in 10 UK workers wants to start their own business.

Get Me My Mortgage have researched 80 of the top privately-owned companies based on annual revenue in the UK to find out how the founders did it, was it alone? With a co-founder? or a business set up by investors or equity funds. We then analysed the present company to find out if they were still controlled or owned by the people that started them.

Key Findings
• 46% of the top private companies were started by solo entrepreneurs
• 60% of companies were still ran by the founder or a member of their family
• 5% of the top companies were started by a family partnership
• The average company age is 63 years

Almost half of all the companies we researched were started by an individual with a big idea. This shows that you don’t need a partner or even investors to start a business that could one day be one of the largest private companies in the UK. Only 26% of the companies we researched were started as a partnership or by more than one person. The final 28% were started by investment groups or off shoots of a larger organisation.

 

60% of founders are still in charge or have passed the business through generations of their family

Over half of the business owners are still in charge or a family member have inherited the shares. The majority of businesses that grow to this size will usually require additional support to allow them to grow to this size, this will either come from an investment where the investor will buy into the company in exchange for shares or shares will be given to new directors with specialities to help the company grow.

One of the oldest companies on our list Willmott Dixon was started in 1852 and has been passed down through 5 generations of the Willmott family. With a turnover of over £1.3 Billion and employing over 3000 people the work of the founder John Willmott changed the live of his family past and present.

While a higher percentage of business owners are still involved with the business in some form. 40% of business owners sold their shares and are no longer involved. For some the dream really is to build a big business then cash in for an early retirement and a relaxing way of life.

 

And they say don’t work with Family!

While a much smaller % of businesses were started by family members 5% of the top companies were the founders did exactly that and started a business with a family member. Although some think conflict between family members is a good reason to not go into business with a family member there are many businesses founded by family members that have become huge success stories. Specsavers is a prime example of this. Started in 1984 a man and wife named Doug and Dame Mary Perkins on a table tennis table in their spare room have grown their once small business into a high street name that is found all over the UK high streets.  With a turnover of over £2.7 Billion and over 37,000 employees it really does make you think its not all bad starting a business with a loved one.

Its not just couples that can see great success in starting a business together, the shared dedication and aligned long term plans is a key advantage that starting a business with a family member has over bringing in an unknown 3rd party. Mccolls is another great example of a family partnership that led to a very successful business. Started in 1901 by Robert Smyth Mccoll and his brother Tom has grown to have over 1650 shops and a turnover of over £1 Billion.

 

Interesting Facts

The average age of our top 80 private limited companies in 63 years old, while some are new comers that have broken through in there industry and have seen unprecedented growth a large percentage of companies were started before 1960 and have grown slowly into the giant companies they are today. One of the oldest companies in the top 80 is Bibby Line that’s origins can be traced back over 200 years to 1807 when John Bibby started a shipping and marine operation.

At the top of the private sector sits Ineos with over 26.9 Billion in sales in 2018 owned by sir Jim Ratcliffe Ineos is one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the world and has topped the list for largest sales within the private sector for over 4 years in a row.

One of the largest private sector employers with over 95,000 employees is Abbott healthcare,  started in 1888 by Dr. Abbott the company was among the founders of the scientific practice of pharmacy. Growing over the 125 years Abbott healthcare is now active in 150 companies and employs over 95,000 people a true entrepreneurial success story.

To sum up our research has highlighted some amazing companies that started from very humble beginnings, so whether you are looking to start a business by yourself, with a loved one or business partner it is possible to grow a fantastic business that can change not only your life but the lives of your family, employees and stakeholders, don’t let myths about family or needed to be rich put you off following your dreams.

Sources

https://digital.nhs.uk/news-and-events/latest-news/iapt-2018-19

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_private_companies_in_the_United_Kingdom

https://www.ineos.com/company/history/

https://www.abbott.co.uk/about-abbott/our-heritage.html

 

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