Generation Z Set To Become Generation SME – and They Are Already Making a Start In Wales

One in seven Generation Z people in the UK plan to start their own business in 2021 in order to take control of their careers in a parched post-Covid employment landscape – and they are already doing so in Wales.

Results of a new poll by finance and business specialists are borne out on the ground here in Wales by Storage Giant, an incubator of more than 2,200 SMEs in the past 14 years. The self-storage specialists are based in Newport, and have locations throughout South Wales. The poll comes from finance and business advisors Mushroombiz, and Simon Williams, MD of Storage Giant, says the picture in Wales very much chimes with this.

“We have helped to incubate more than 2,200 small business and start-ups across our portfolio, in Newport, Cardiff, Cwmbran. Swansea, Llanelli and throughout wider UK. We have certainly seen a spike in new business start-ups in the 18 to 25 age bracket, setting up everything from tech firms, online marketplaces and more. And this is part of a deeper shift in attitudes toward the working world among young people. Interestingly this poll is one in a series of similar ones  – from business media giant Forbes and from data specialists Nielson – in recent months that have shown an unmistakeable trend. 

He adds: “During the spring/summer of 2020 we saw occupancy and revenue at Storage Giant grow by more than six percent and fourteen percent respectively, with nine out of our ten sites increasing occupancy, in part due to a shift in people’s working habits and associated storage needs, but in part because of new start-up businesses aligned to the shift to trading online. Our Welsh sites, in Newport, Swansea, Cwmbran and Llanelli have fared particularly well. 

“It is clear that young people are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to determining the direction of their working lives in the light of the shrinkage in the jobs market.   The Mushroombiz poll spoke to more than 2,000 British adults and, if they see their plans to fruition this would result in 800,000 new Gen Z businesses this year. Between 2018 and 2019, 390,000 businesses were started in the UK across all age groups.

Simon continues: “The Government’s Office of Budget Responsibility estimates that the UK unemployment rate will peak at 7.5 per cent in the middle of 2021, but spikes like this always lead to a boom in entrepreneurship too. We will see tech start-ups, passion projects and side hustles started at universities all bearing fruit this year and the ONS (Office for National Statistics) already reported a new record of more than 81,000 businesses registered in the UK in the second half of last year.”

Storage Giant has just submitted a proposal to Walsall Council to build a new facility on a vacant site in that area, and has very recently signed up to open new premises at a £30m mixed-use scheme in Nottingham, with new sites at Kingswinford and Oldbury progressing towards completion. They also have plans to open a new facility to serve Bridgend in 2021 and the company has submitted a pre-application to planners for a facility in Brierley Hill, near Stourbridge, which would help bring more economic activity to the area.  

Storage Giant’s job creation studies show that these new sites are likely to create hundreds of new jobs and they will supply vital start-up space for entrepreneurs to set up their businesses with low risk and low outlay costs.