SME insurance provider, Superscript, used ONS data to compare the total number of small businesses (with 0-49 employees) per unitary authority in 2021, to the same figure for 2022.
This was combined with nationwide population data to generate a “small business per capita” score.
Wolverhampton came out top with a score of 0.48, with other cities including Worcester on 0.20, and Carlisle on 0.19.
Meanwhile, towns to see significant growth lead with Mansfield scoring 0.38, followed by Blackburn with Darwen on 0.30, and Luton with 0.22.
The increase in small businesses was driven by the accommodation and food service sector, which grew nationally by 4.9 percent (8,175 more businesses).
Construction also saw a significant growth, of 4.25 percent (15,270 more businesses).
Superscript also commissioned a survey of 1,000 small business owners, which found almost three-quarters (72 percent) set out on their own because of the potential to earn more than their current job.
Cameron Shearer, co-founder and CEO, said: “It’s encouraging to see so many new entrepreneurial towns and cities make this year’s top 10, while cities like Carlisle and Cardiff consolidated last year’s positions to climb even higher.
“These places have bucked the national trend, with the macroeconomic challenges causing a drop of 83,000 small businesses nationwide.
“However, history teaches us that great ideas and innovations are born out of challenging times, with businesses evolving quickly.
“That is why flexibility and customisation have become the most important insurance requirements of small businesses coming to us for cover.”
Jasmin Robson, 41, and her husband Phil, 47, run Hatch To Go in Darlington, which placed fourth for the top towns.
The concept emerged following the success of adaptations to their existing business, Hatch Luncheonette, in 2020 and 2021, where customers still wanted dine-in experiences during Covid.
The to-go store now provides retail as well as cakes, snacks, and coffee – after Jasmin noticed an opportunity from customers popping in who could browse and pick up last-minute gifts and cards.
Jasmin said: “We use a lot of local suppliers for our take-out shop and in our retail and gift area, where we try and concentrate on sourcing independent brands to stock – often focusing on women-owned or independent brands that can’t be found on big sites like Amazon.
“We grew up in Darlington, and it is lovely to have a business that makes the place where we live better. We set the business up as a place we would like to go to as customers.”
Superscript’s data also revealed the key factors for entrepreneurs choosing a location for their business, with 15 percent looking for good access to talent.
But for 14 percent, it’s simply where the would-be business owners happen to already live.
Government high street task force expert, Jackie Mulligan, founder of ShopAppy – an online platform for local shops – said: “The shift of our high streets to more experiential places is a positive opportunity for hospitality businesses in particular.
“It is clear that the growth of businesses in these locations is also connected to positive efforts by local partners (councils and business improvement districts), as well as strong, supportive communities, and effective business networks – all key for entrepreneurs in this challenging climate for local economies.”