Store closing signThe hassle facing small business are well-documented, what with lending tight and inflation high, but the numbers failing to make a go of it are still pretty shocking.

Because according to the Office of National Statistics, there were 1,170 business deaths every working day of the year in 2010.

Records show that 297,000 businesses deregistered for taxes last year, effectively signalling that the owners had given up the ghost.
That's not the only grim news, because figures also show that the number of new start-ups in 2010 was 235,000, an all-time low, worse even than during the depths of the recession of 2008 which saw just 267,000 businesses register for VAT or PAYE taxes.

Digging even further into the files, it appears that less than half of businesses set up in 2005 were still trading by 2009. They had, it seems now, gone the way of the dodo.

So while this is historical evidence, is there anything to suggest that things, as the song goes, can only get better?

With inflation around 5%, business rates earmarked to rise in April next year, borrowing to SMEs falling below the levels set by the Government, economic growth targets revised downwards and heaven knows what about to happen in the Eurozone, it'd be a brave man to suggest that the future looks anything but bleak.

But you know what? Many start-ups don't owe their beginnings to economic forecasts. They are usually the idea of a bright spark who thinks they've spotted a gap in the market for their product or service.

If they can get some decent financial backing and a few breaks from the government then fine. If not, then that's fine too and they will boldly launch with every intention of success, marching confidently up the road signposted to profit.

Sometimes that road leads off the edge of a cliff, sometimes it leads to a fortune.

Though their numbers might not be high at the moment, at least there are still people prepared to take a punt on the journey.