Are northern entrepreneurs really more successful?

gbnorthsouth.jpg‘Northerners are more successful entrepreneurs than southerners’, is a story quite a few of the press picked up today.It stemmed from a report by Hull University and Cranfield School of Management, which used employee numbers to assert that despite there being fewer self-employed individuals in the North (17% of men, 8% of women) than the South (23% of men, 11% of women), northerners were proving more successful at growing businesses.Northern men employed 3.53 people on average, compared with 2.65 in the South, while northern women created an average of 3.48 compared to 3.08.The findings, the report identified, were at odds with accepted characteristics of a North-South divide where the South enjoys stronger economic performance, lower unemployment and higher gross domestic product per capita.Not wishing to take anything away from the entrepreneurial spirit of the North, but what does this actually prove? Putting to one side the dubious value of studying employee numbers alone, deeper delving of the data revealed London’s self-employed women actually led the way creating an average of 7.82 jobs.Perhaps a victory for the North held more PR pull on a day the ‘Ken v Boris’ battle dominated local election coverage across the national media?The report’s not without its merits, though. Whether it forms a North-South divide or not, it’s clear business activity differs by region and that’s likely to be for a whole host of reasons. Demographic make-up, traditional sector focus, employment opportunities, education, skills of the region’s workforce, the locale of tech or bio clusters and university spin-outs etc will all play their part.If anything is clear then, it’s that effective support – be that public or private sector – needs to be localised and focused on each region’s needs. Midlands' businesses will require different support to Cornish firms which differ greatly to Oxford start-ups, for instance.North-South is too simplistic and defeats the purpose the report was, we’re assuming, originally meant to serve. Nice headline, though...

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