Entrepreneurship in Homes and Neighbourhoods

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: School of Geography and Geosciences

Abstract

Entrepreneurship and small firms are seen to have important roles in facilitating economic growth. Debates and policy strategies focus mainly on access to business capital and the creation of entrepreneurial environments in designated areas such as Enterprise Zones while a great potential for local growth occurs 'under the radar' of enterprise policy and business services: many people start their businesses from home, and many business owners operate mainly from their homes. Home-based businesses are very significant as at least half of all small- and medium-sized businesses in the UK and the US are home based, and the proportion of home-based businesses is rising over time. This applies to rural areas in particular, but is also apparent in suburban areas and cities. We expect that more people now use their homes to start-up their own businesses than prior to the economic crisis in 2007/08, because of rising unemployment and a drop in the level of business funding.

Entrepreneurial activities are also influenced by the local neighbourhood context. For example, local networks in the neighbourhoods where potential entrepreneurs live are important for generating and realising business ideas. For those who mainly run their business from home or those who want to set up a business, coffee shops or other local places are important for meetings and social networking. Successful entrepreneurs are also significant 'role models' for (young) people in their local neighbourhoods.

Despite the fact that homes and their local neighbourhood contexts are important for many entrepreneurial activities, there has been very little academic research on home-based businesses. The importance of homes and their local neighbourhood context for enterprising people is also largely ignored by policymakers. For example, social housing regulations have prevented people from using their homes for business purposes. In contrast to 'mainstream' enterprise policy and research, this Seminar Series seeks to develop new perspectives in local economic growth based on the notion that home-based business activities are essential to increase start up rates and to promote economically lagging and deprived communities.

Main topics we will work on with a group of international researchers from different disciplines, practitioners and policymakers over the duration of three years include:

- Understanding home-based businesses: Why the home? How entrepreneurial are they? Was the house chosen/designed with a business in mind?

- Home-based businesses and their local settings: What are their wider benefits for communities? Are they able to revitalise/stimulate villages and 'bedroom suburbs'? Can they act as driver of economic growth in rural/suburban/urban localities?

- Neighbourhoods and local networking: How can local authorities/communities stimulate start-ups, and how can they benefit from local entrepreneurship? How important are local neighbourhoods for the social networking of (potential) entrepreneurs?

- Planning, regulation, finance, and technology: To what extent are home-based businesses below the regulatory radar? How can home-based businesses be supported by planning and regulation?

An important aspect of this Seminar Series will be to engage with policymakers and practitioners. Two seminars will be hosted by key government bodies: the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and The Scottish Government.

It is also important to learn from other countries and their approaches to local economic growth and entrepreneurship. For example, Dutch researchers have developed innovative ways to think about local entrepreneurship by looking at the social capital of neighbourhoods for fostering entrepreneurial activities. One seminar will be hosted by the OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment at the TU Delft (Netherlands). We will also invite international researchers and practitioners to seminars in the UK.

Planned Impact

This Seminar Series addresses the intertwined issues of entrepreneurship, housing, and neighbourhoods. The beneficiaries span different policy and practice areas, professional groups and academic disciplines:

- Policymakers in enterprise policy at UK, devolved, city and local levels, in particular the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), and equivalents in the devolved administrations and City Councils, will benefit through knowledge of the economic significance and wider benefits of home-based businesses in the UK and other countries and a better understanding of start-up processes and economic growth. Specifically, the Directorate for Business of the Scottish Government is interested in learning how to strengthen communities as part of their assets-based approach. BIS considers this Seminar Series as important for the work of its 'Local Growth' team. The Barnet Council and the London Assembly Economy Committee at the Greater London Authority have indicated interest to actively engage in the Seminar Series in relation to developing their future local economic growth strategies.
- Policymakers in housing and neighbourhood policy, in particular the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Homes and Communities Agency and equivalents in the devolved administrations, will benefit from this Seminar Series in understanding the links between housing and neighbourhood policy with enterprise policy, and the economic outcomes of housing.
- Business support services and sub-national economic development agencies (e.g. Business Gateway), will gain a better understanding of how people start-up businesses and the needs of home-based businesses. This is of relevance for national/regional funding schemes and advice services.
- The Seminar Series will be of relevance for lenders in better understanding the nature of home-based businesses, access to business finance, and barriers to economic growth.
- Home-based business networks such as Enterprise Nation will benefit through contacts to policymakers and the development of networks to researchers established by regular seminars and the JISC mailing list.
- Social housing providers and house builders will learn how entrepreneurship can be facilitated in social housing and through house design. In particular, social housing providers will benefit from networks to policymakers to discuss future regulations in social housing. This is of relevance given that the most recent round of welfare reforms will have a significant impact on the under-occupancy rule ('bedroom tax') from April 2013.
- This Seminar Series is of relevance for the entrepreneurship community across different academic disciplines. Entrepreneurship researchers in economics and economic geography will benefit from the exploration of theories in other social sciences including neighbourhood effects and neighbourhood change, housing, social capital, community development and assets, social economy, and empowerment. This cross-fertilisation of ideas and theories will enable a better understanding of the economic outcomes of individual behaviour.
- The interdisciplinary nature of the Seminar series will add to housing and neighbourhood research across disciplines by developing linkages between neighbourhood change and community development with agglomeration and cluster theory, economic behaviour, and economic growth. This will enable a better understanding of the economies of neighbourhoods and the role of housing in the economy.

There is the potential for exploitation of outcomes of this Seminar Series in the UK, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. In the short term, new strategies for economic growth in local authorities/communities could be developed based on empirical evidence and international practices discussed in the seminars. In the long term, new policy and institutional connections may be encouraged by the outcomes of this Seminar Series across the UK.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/L001489/1 01/11/2013 31/07/2016 £30,412
ES/L001489/2 Transfer ES/L001489/1 01/09/2016 31/01/2017 £12,914
 
Description The overall aim of the seminar series was to bring together researchers from business research in management and geography with neighbourhood and urban studies, disciplines that have not engaged much with each other. We believe that we achieved this overall aim as all seminars were attended by a wide range of academics. Moreover, we sought to bring together academics with practitioners and representatives from government. As proposed, two seminars were hosted by governments, one by the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and one by the Scottish Government. However, we generally reached out to non-academics through inviting, for example, practice commentators which proved to be very successful in generating discussions and new ideas.

The seminars generally identified the great and increasing interest in government, business practice and academia in the recent rise of self-employment, its nature and contribution to the economy. Discussions about whether self-employment is a reflection of necessity versus opportunity were insightful and highlighted the various motivations of people to become self-employed and the need of a more nuanced assessment of those.

More specifically, the seminars focussed on a large and growing segment of the small business sector: self-employed workers, freelance, home-based businesses, small businesses that operate largely or exclusively online and small businesses in technology sectors. While existing small business research focussed on the ICT use of small business and how this can be increased, digital opportunities for entrepreneurship and new business practices and business models based on new Web 2.0 technologies, our seminar series expanded this new technology research agenda in small business research in three ways.

First, it brought the social dimension of digital entrepreneurship into emerging business models and practices. In doing so, it made strong connections between business and entrepreneurship research with social theory, including intersectionality.

Second, with the focus on the contradictions of new technologies and small businesses the seminar series provided a critical and nuanced discussion about the implications of new technologies and online platforms on small business and entrepreneurship. This clearly added to existing research that focusses on positive aspects.

Third, a variety of small businesses and entrepreneurs including new under-researched businesses that evolved around new Web 2.0 technologies such as blogging were explored. This varied coverage provided new insights into the circumstances and context of how new technologies affect small business and entrepreneurship.

The seminar series revealed that there is the urgent need in academia, practice and policy to better understand current contradictions of emerging new technologies and entrepreneurship and small business, both in cities and rural areas. With the outcomes of this seminar series we hope to make a significant contribution to fill this knowledge gap as well as engaging with the wider debate on the changing nature of work, particularly the nature and the economic and social impact of one-person businesses.

From the seminar series we published two books with Edward Elgar that highlight key findings and ideas/suggestions for a new research agenda in the intersection of entrepreneurship and neighbourhoods.
Exploitation Route We believe that the seminars triggered new research and research collaboration, some of which we are involved in. We feel it is a great achievement to have stimulated others to work on micro-enterprises and home-based businesses in the UK, Europe and the US.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.entrepreneurship-space.com
 
Description A policy debate has been stimulated by the seminar series and specific research evidence, which has led to the development and implementation of a home-based business guide in Scotland and a Microbusiness Research Portal - a partnership project together with the Office for National Statistics and supported by the UK Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now BEIS). The findings of the seminar series have been used by government and the research community.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Bringing Microbusinesses and Home-based Businesses out from the Shadows
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact The Scottish Government has developed a home-based business guide (Enterprise and Cities Division) involving many departments/divisions, e.g. rural area, digital economy, entrepreneurship, planning and local authorities following on from our seminars and research inputs. We provided information and research evidence to inform this consultation.
URL https://www.mygov.scot/home-based-business/
 
Description ERC Starting Grant
Amount € 1,431,000 (EUR)
Funding ID WORKANDHOME 639403 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2020
 
Description Home-based business survey
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation Federation of Small Business (FSB) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 10/2015
 
Description Urban Studies Foundation Seminar Series
Amount £18,800 (GBP)
Funding ID Spatial Reconfigurations of Work in Cities 
Organisation Urban Studies Foundation 
Start 09/2016 
End 03/2018
 
Title Microbusiness Research Portal 
Description The Microbusiness Portal provides a literature database including academic and non-academic publications in relation to micro-enterprise. It further provides a database with information on available secondary data sources researchers can use for their research on micro-enterprises including home-based businesses. Here we provide bespoke information on what type of business activity is captured and what researchers can investigate with respective datasets. All datasets are for the UK only and the search is based on the UK Data Service. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The Microbusiness Portal is used by researchers to search for existing literature and data on topics related to self-employment and micro-enterprises according to google statistics and personal feedback. Board members are active in providing new information and the first public seminar was organised in 2016 at the Middlesex University attracting researchers from the whole of the UK. Over the period of 13th March 2016 to 13th March 2017, we counted a total of 1,432 users and 5,356 page views. Just below one fourth of the users were returning users (23.3%). Users came mostly from the USA (46%) and the UK (43%) with some further users from Europe, for example 26 from Germany. The Microbusiness Research Portal has an active advisory board including industry and government as well as renewed researchers in business and management studies including the Scottish Government (Karen Halford), Emma Jones (Enterprise Nation), Professor Jonathan Levie (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, Strathclyde), Charlotte Chung (Federation of Small Businesses), Lorence Nye (IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), Prabhat Vaze (Belmana Consultancy). We use blogs to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, for example from the Social Market Foundation on 'Self-employment: The missing piece of the puzzle' or Prof Jonathan Levie on 'reluctant entrepreneurs'. 
URL http://microbusiness.ac.uk/
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation Middlesex University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation Office for National Statistics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation University of Southampton
Department Department of Geography and Environment
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Title Microbusiness Research Portal 
Description The online portal is an output of the seminar series. It provides information and data on microbusiness. It aims at policy-makers, practitioners, academics and the general public. 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2015
Licensed Yes
Impact The copyright of the website is with the Middlesex University.
 
Description Consultation of Scottish Government on Home-based business 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Together with the Scottish Government we organised one seminar focussing on policy issues in relation to home-based businesses, particularly targeting planning and business policy. The Scottish Government followed up with a consultation how to provide an information basis on home-based business with the aim to foster home grown businesses. Involved were local business support services and within the Scottish Government the Small Business policy unit, town planning and rural planning. Dr Reuschke (PI) and Prof Colin Mason (Co-I) informed the discussion.

The consultation was led by Karen Halford, Enterprise Support Policy Manager, Scottish Government, Enterprise and Cities Division, Local Economic Development, Tel: 0141 278 8179 (extension 41179) | email: karen.halford@gov.scot

Outcome of the consultation was a home-based business guide which is live on the Scottish Government website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.mygov.scot/home-based-business/
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Microbusiness Research Portal was launched at the last seminar on 22nd Jan 2016 in Edinburgh. The online research portal incorporates a blog. The seminar was attended by 66 participants, mostly from the Scottish Government and practitioners in economic development and business support. The blog on the website is meant to engage with policy and practitioners. We encouraged everybody to use the blog. The Microbusiness Portal is active on Twitter and has reached already a decent amount of followers including BIS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://microbusiness.ac.uk/
 
Description Six successful seminars 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Between 2014 and 2016 we organised six seminars (9 seminar days) as proposed:
- 2 day seminar, January 2014, University of Glasgow
- 1 day seminar, September 2014, Middlesex University
- 1 day seminar, Jan 2015, BIS, London
- 2 day seminar, Sep 2015, TU Delft
- 1 day seminar, Jan 2016, Scottish Government, Edinburgh
- 2 day seminar, Sep 2016, Southampton

We achieved out goal that some participants come to all/most of the seminars. We could built a group working on micro-enterprise and home-based businesses that work together on follow-on research projects, papers and seminar series. In total, we reached an estimated number of 180 researchers in the UK, Europe, US, South Africa.

NB The website link for the seminar series: http://generic.wordpress.soton.ac.uk/homebusiness (I was unable to copy it in the URL field below)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016