We’ve reached the top three of our annual study finding out where the Best Place to Start a Small Business in the UK are.
Brighton, Cambridge and Leicester made up the top three the first time we studied the UK’s leading 63 towns and cities back in 2016; while last year’s top three was made up of Ipswich, Dundee and Derby.
But this year, with Informi reshaping our study to focus on factors such as the availability of skills and the number of supporting businesses already in existence, it’s Northampton that takes third place.
Why is Northampton a good place to start a business?
Situated at the foot of the East Midlands and home to the iconic British Grand Prix, Northampton is one of the fastest growing towns in the whole of the UK, with data from Centre for Cities showing that it grew 11% between 2004 and 2013.
And it seems a significant chunk of those moving to the town have taken advantage of its favourable conditions for planting a business.
Northampton ranked highly in our research for the number of business startups during 2016, with 74.28 businesses started per 10,000 people. This is well above the national average of 63.12, and only four places – including London and Manchester – ranked higher in this category.
The town also ranked well for business stock – or the number of businesses per 10,000 people, which is appealing to workers and demonstrates an area in which business can succeed. Only five places have a greater figure than the 402 businesses provided by Northampton.
Northampton also scored fairly well in our study for digital connectivity. Good quality broadband aids business productivity, allowing you to keep on top of your orders and of course is helpful for getting the online part of your business up and running.
Northampton is home to the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone, the largest urban enterprise zone in the UK and a hub of business.
And with a strong combination of reasonably affordable housing and property and more than 150 parks around the town, there’s a space available for you, your business, and your future employees.
Big names at home in Northampton
Where can Northampton improve?
Like many others near the top of our survey, Northampton is an attractive place to live and therefore doesn’t rank particularly highly on the housing affordability ratio – although its 37th placed ranking in this category is significantly better than many others. The town also ranks only 25th for the provision of a highly skilled workforce.
Interestingly, while there have been plenty of businesses opening in 2016, a large number closed as well – with only Aberdeen and London seeing more closures than Northampton.
Of course, the more Northampton has attracted new residents, and the greater the number of entrepreneurs there are out there, inevitably the greater the closure figure will be as well.
At home in Northampton
Julian Momen is Chief Executive of Carlsberg UK. While the company’s lager is famed for being the self-styled ‘best in the world’, he has no hesitations in where would be his top place to start a business. Probably.
“By being in the Northampton enterprise zone, we create a real sense of togetherness with other businesses,” says Momen. “Most importantly, we have a town and county administration that are very pro-business and pro-development and growth.”
“There are many benefits of being based in Northampton. First of all, it’s got great transport links so it’s very well located. But secondly, and more importantly, I think it’s got a vibrant business community here.
“We’ve got a lot of inward investment, good cultural development coming through the town, and a strong sense of history and heritage that plays well with what Carlsberg’s purpose stands for.”
We’re nearly there. Tomorrow we find out who’s taken the silver medal in our Best Places search. Will previous winners Ipswich and Brighton appear anywhere in our top ten? Will it be large cities or smaller towns who get bragging rights? Come back tomorrow to see who’s in second…
The Top 10 Best Places To Start A Business In The UK 2018
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