50 per cent increase in number of enterprises since 2000.
The number of private sector businesses in Scotland has risen to a record 361,345 – the highest since figures started being compiled in 2000.
The figure represents a year-on-year increase of 26,090 - almost 8 per cent between March 2014 and March 2015, according to official figures published today.
Over the longer term, the total number of businesses in Scotland has increased by more than 50 per cent between 2000 and 2015, an increase of 121,375 businesses.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
"It is hugely encouraging that there are now a record number of businesses in Scotland, creating jobs, generating inclusive growth and demonstrating the overall strength of the Scottish economy.
"In Scotland's Economic Strategy we identified increasing the business base as a key driver for growth and competition across the economy and I am pleased to see that we have made improvements in this area, and we will continue to do so, supporting businesses to start and grow through Business Gateway and our enterprise agencies.
"In addition, recent figures show that the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) has benefited more than 99,000 commercial properties in Scotland by either eliminating or substantially reducing business rates.
"We work closely with bodies representing business, and seek to work in partnership with them in order so that Scotland is the best place to do business in the UK."
"We will continue to do all that we can to unlock Scotland's huge entrepreneurial potential, supporting businesses to flourish and grow, with the huge benefits that this brings for everyone in Scotland."
The rise has been driven by increases in the number of both registered business – those registered for VAT and/ or PAYE and unregistered business – those that have annual turnover below the VAT threshold and who do not have employees.
The number of registered businesses has increased from 166,525 businesses in 2014 to 170,335 businesses in 2015, an increase of 3,810, or 2.3 per cent. The number of unregistered businesses increased from 168,730 in 2014 to 191,010 in 2015 – an increase of 22,280 businesses, or 13.2 per cent.
The figures on registered enterprises form the basis of National Indicator 1 (Increase the Number of Businesses) on the Scottish Government's national performance framework 'Scotland Performs'. Indicator 1 measures the total number of VAT/PAYE registered private sector enterprises operating in Scotland per 10,000 adults. The indicator shows that there were 384 registered enterprises per 10,000 adults in 2015, compared to 375 the previous year.
Business Gateway offers a first point of contact for all publically funded advice that may be available to support new, established and growing businesses in Scotland. It assists around 10,000 individuals starting a business every year through advice, information, training and financial support. In 2014-15, it helped 10,103 start-ups and delivered 9,574 advisory and expert help initiatives, and 2,509 business benefited from one to one growth support.
Businesses in Scotland 2015 is available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Business/Corporate