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Where Is The Best Place To Start A Small Business?

Starting a business is one of the biggest challenges you can face. Making it a success can depend on a variety of different elements, which you need to be prepared for. One of the crucial elements which could contribute to whether your business succeeds or not is where it is based. So, for the third successive year, Informi has done the hard work for you. We’ve looked at data from the 63 largest UK towns and cities to find out what‘s on offer for someone who is considering starting a business, and determined which is the best place in 2018 to start a small business. 


Comparing the locations

To create our ranking of the best places to start a business, we compared each of them for several different criteria. These were:

Number of business startups: Having a lot of startups already in an area is a good thing, showing that there is a great existing attraction for entrepreneurs. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, London has the highest number of startups per 10,000 population.

Working-age population with a qualification at NVQ4 level or above: If a location has a higher amount of population with a higher level qualification, that means there are more highly-skilled staff that you could hire for your business.

Cambridge, with it's world-class university, has the best educated population

Business stock: This is the total amount of businesses in a city, per 10,000 population, and shows that businesses have a captive audience with which to grow and thrive. Of course, to succeed in your own right you may benefit from a thriving business community around you – not least because they represent potential suppliers and customers. 

Again, London performs well with the largest total number of businesses.

Digital connectivity: These days most businesses need to have some kind of online presence, whether that is a website to showcase your products or services or just an email address for customers to contact you. Therefore, good digital connectivity is important to make sure that your internet connection is not likely to disconnect often, leaving your business website unavailable or making it run so slowly that customers are put off from using it. 

Worthing slightly edges it by having the best levels of digital connectivity.

Housing affordability: Having a large number of houses which are affordable can be beneficial for you, so that you can afford to live relatively close to where your business is based, and also for any employees you may have either now or in the future, who can have a shorter commute. 

Burnley is the most affordable place to buy a home out of our 63 locations (compared to the area average wage)

So, by taking all those factors into account…


The Top 10 Best Places To Start A Business In The UK 2018


  UK town/city
1. Brighton
2. Edinburgh
3. Northampton
4. London
5. Cambridge
6. Slough
7. Reading
8. Bristol
9. Aldershot
10. Warrington

Click on each town or city to find out more about how they performed, or, scroll to the bottom of the article to toggle through the full interactive list. 


The winner – Brighton

Brighton was crowned our winner for this year, regaining the title of The Best Place To Start A Small Business which it also won in 2016.

How did it do that? 

Although Brighton ranked low in our calculations for housing affordability, with our study taking into account that it has been named amongst the most expensive cities in the UK, it made up for that by ranking particularly highly for business stock, with a large business to population ratio. The city also ranked well for digital connectivity (A testbed for super-fast 5G internet, which the rest of the UK is only scheduled to get in 2020, was recently launched there). Having a high number of startups, and having a highly skilled workforce also count in Brighton’s favour, helping it to get to the top of our list. 


Brighton ranked well across all our key factors, meaning it once again takes the crown.

Small businesses provide the backbone for the UK’s economic strength, even – perhaps especially – during uncertain times, with the nation holding its collective breath for what any Brexit deal may look like. It is in the best interests of every town and city throughout the UK to create the right environment for entrepreneurs as thriving businesses contribute to the wealth and prosperity of local communities.

Steven Drew Informi spokesperson

How to make the most of the resources in your area

Even if your city hasn’t made the top ten ranking, it’s important to remember that a business can be successful anywhere, as long as you have a good idea and are willing to put hard work in. There should still be opportunities in your area, here’s how you can take advantage of them: 


1. Know your area

Knowing your area well and how it could affect your business could be crucial. If you’re opening a bricks-and-mortar business then it’s good to know where the best location might be to set up, to take advantage of traffic flows or busy streets for example. 


2. Get local support

Most areas will have a Chambers of Commerce or another body which brings local businesses together. You should always take advantage of these, and make contact and attend meetings if you can. These organisations can be a source of valuable tips from people who have the experience of starting a business in your area, and will be able to warn you of any problems you might face. You might also want to check out local Facebook or LinkedIn groups as these are often a great place to meet likeminded people and get advice about the area.  


3. Look for gaps

If you’re struggling for a business idea, look around your area to see if there might be any gaps in services which are being offered. For example, is there an area without a certain type of restaurant? If you are able to fill a gap in your local market with a business which is unique and not currently there, that could help make you more likely to succeed. 


4. Look for local financial help

One of the biggest barriers to starting a business can be trying to get enough money to get it off the ground. However, help to finance your business may be available, depending on where you are, so make sure you take a look to discover all the local organisations who might be able to help. 


5. Think about what your area is famous for

Your area might be famous for something, for example, a local delicacy such as a Cornish pasty, or a certain landmark or attraction. If that’s the case then you could base a business idea around that. Remember to ensure, however, that there aren’t a lot of competitors already doing the same, as that could make being successful harder.



For a comprehensive guide to getting your business up and running, download our how to start a business in 20 days ebook

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