What a Razzmatazz: Lockdown leads to surge in entrepreneurs


The number of people launching businesses in the UK has risen by more than five per cent since last year, despite the hugely challenging conditions facing firms, according to analysis of ONS data by digital bank Starling.

The surge in entrepreneurialism is evident in nearly every part of the UK, with Wales seeing a huge 99 per cent increase in new companies launched, compared to the same period last year (6,070 vs 3,055)

One entrepreneur who started a business during lockdown is Aina Gomez who was running a successful photography company before the pandemic started. Reduced revenue from the company caused Aina to launch Razzmatazz Oxford, a theatre school for children aged 4-18 which has been a huge success.

Razzmatazz Aina GomezAina said: “My daughter inspired me to launch a theatre school because I could see she was suffering without her friends. I felt the same, having had a sociable job and a busy life before lockdown so for me it was a great opportunity to do something different. It was daunting, but Starling made the admin easy and I was fortunate enough to get a great response from friends and family and the business has steadily grown. It energises me, gets me up in the mornings and makes me happy and this I am grateful for.”

Razzamataz Theatre Schools was established in 2000. After an appearance on BBC’s Dragons’ Den and an investment from Duncan Bannatyne, the schools were further propelled into the limelight with more high profile partnerships gained. The company now operates as a franchise, gives professionals across the country the opportunity to own and manage a successful business while following a tried and tested system. Franchisees can set up their school on their own doorstep, which is what Aina did.

All Razzamataz schools have taken their high standards of performing arts training online, offering multiple opportunities for students via workshops with professional performers from West End shows.

Starling looked at the ONS’ Business demography statistics for Q3 and found that 4,805 more firms were founded in the three-month period of this year compared to 2019. While Wales was head and shoulders above other parts of the UK, only three regions saw a fall in new businesses – the East Midlands, the South East and the East of England (illustrated in the table below).

Businesses started Q3 2019 Business started Q3 2020 Percentage change
UK 90590 95395 5.3%
North East 2335 2440 4.5%
North West 9510 10050 5.7%
Yorkshire and the Humber 5685 6055 6.5%
East Midlands 5605 5530 -1.3%
West Midlands 7185 7405 3.1%
East 8090 7875 -2.7%
London 23740 24150 1.7%
South East 12890 12795 -0.7%
South West 5975 6305 5.5%
Wales 3055 6070 98.7%
Scotland 6070 5295 3.4%
Northern Ireland 1400 1425 1.8%


The data also showed the impact that Government lending schemes have had on rescuing firms in trouble, with the number of ‘business deaths’ across the UK during this period falling by more than seven per cent since last year. This trend is particularly prominent in Wales and the North West, where 24 per cent and 22 per cent fewer companies respectively, folded in Q3 this year compared to 2019.

Starling’s analysis also shows the different fortunes of specific industries during the pandemic. The number of new businesses launched in accommodation and food services is down 62 per cent on last year, while new firms in arts and recreation are down 59 per cent. Conversely, new companies falling into the bracket of business admin and support services are up 143 per cent, and new wholesale ventures are up 44 per cent.

Anne Boden, CEO and founder of Starling Bank, said: “The pandemic has given many people time. Time to develop an idea, formulate a plan and action it. It is this kind of resilience which will really bolster the UK economy when we start to ease out of lockdown which is why enabling SMEs to open new business accounts has been so critical during this time.”