Using figures obtained from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the FSB has put together a map of business population estimates for the UK in 2018.
It shows there were 5.6m small businesses at the start of 2018. Compared with the previous year, the private sector business population fell by 0.5% (-27,000 businesses) whilst conversely private sector employment increased by 2% (+304,000).
It said this contrast is attributable to the number of smaller non-employing businesses falling by 1% (-50,000) but the number of larger employing businesses rising by 2% (+23,000).
The decrease in the business population is the first fall in the series, which started in 2000. However, there were still 2.2m (+63%) more businesses than in 2000.
Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2018 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized (SMEs).
Total employment in SMEs was 16.3m - 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.
The combined annual turnover of SMEs was £2.0 trillion - 52% of all private sector turnover.
In 2018 there were 1.4m employing businesses and 4.3 million non-employing businesses. The overall business population includes three main legal forms: there were 3.4m sole proprietorships (59% of the total), 1.9m companies (34%), and 405,000 ordinary partnerships (7%). Of the 5.7m businesses, 45% (2.6 million) were registered for VAT or PAYE.
The number of companies has increased in the last year by 31,000 (+2%) whilst the number of sole proprietorships and ordinary partnerships fell by 49,000 (-1%) and 9,000 (-2%) respectively.