A study conducted using Office for National Statistics data by consumer research firm NimbleFins reported that Orkney and Shetland rank as the top parliamentary constituency for entrepreneurialism in Scotland, placing 28 out of 649 UK regions and boasting 955 small businesses per 10,000 working population.

The data was used in October 2020 in the study to report which areas in the UK are home to the largest amount of small businesses (defined in the findings as having between 1- 49 employees and/or being registered for VAT). Whilst Shetland and Orkney boasted 2,945 small businesses, the study also revealed that Scotland ranks only at 11th "most entrepreneurial" out of 12 UK regions, with 452 small businesses per 10,000 working-age people (23% below the UK average of 588). 

Islands of opportunity

In a time where nearly all businesses have faced challenges, the communities of Shetland and Orkney remain resilient and continue to generate their fair share of business excitement as a whole; with large-scale projects from the Saxavord Spaceport planned for Unst to the Orbital Marine Power's most powerful tidal turbine generating electricity off Orkney.

Lerwick and Kirkwall both feel like confident and remarkably cosmopolitan capital towns. Perhaps, however, the higher number of businesses is necessity-driven as, generally, the North isles remain largely untouched by big private employers. Whilst the economies benefit from oil production and tourism, island residents live in close-knit communities which may lead to more support for new business initiatives.

Although the populations of Orkney and Shetland are clearly motivated to improve their local communities and their own livelihoods through entrepreneurialism; however, they are not unaffected by the various restrictions of 2020 and 2021. Following the combined decisions of the Scottish and U.K. governments to invest £100m into the Islands Growth Deal with the intention of targeting tourism, infrastructure, innovation, energy and skills, these exceptional rates of opportunity-driven entrepreneurialism will likely only continue.

How Brodies can help

Brodies has a historic and strong presence across the Highlands and Islands. If you are a small business owner and require assistance, please do reach out.