Despite the fluctuating economy, there are now a record number of businesses trading in the private sector in the UK.
According to official figures, the number of private sector businesses increased to 4.8 million at the start of 2012, a jump of 253,000 on the previous year.
The figures also show that small and medium sized businesses account for 60% of private sector employment and 49% of private sector turnover.
Business minister Michael Fallon said the statistics were an "encouraging sign" of the government's efforts to rebalance the economy in favour of the private sector through its efforts to reform employment law, reduce red tape and boosting business mentoring.
But tax consultant Nichola Ross Martin said the increase in private sector businesses was more likely to be a result of the tax advantages of incorporation.