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When launching your business there’s so much to consider; how do you raise the finance to get your idea off the ground? Where should you set your business up? How many employees can you hire?
Of course, many of the answers to these questions will come from a lot of hard work and planning on the business owner’s side. But there is also room for a bit of help – you may find that depending on your industry, size or location, you will have access to support that can get your idea off the ground more easily.
As a London-based business ourselves, we have been lucky enough to benefit from some of the great opportunities the capital offers small businesses on their growth journey. We spoke recently about why 2015 is the year of the SME – here’s why being able to run your startup in the capital is the cherry on top of a very appealing cake.
If you’d asked somebody five years ago where the technology hub of the world was, the answer would have undoubtedly been Silicon Valley. Fast forward to 2015 and London’s Silicon Roundabout is a strong contender: the East London hub expanded by 5.2 per cent last year (more than any other area in the UK).
This success is not only attracting the attention of new UK startups: international investors and businesses are flocking here, looking to share in its success. London & Partners helped 260 international companies set up in London in 2013/4 (a 16% increase over the previous year) and 90 of these businesses were tech firms. Overall, it’s predicted that this will create 9,141 new jobs over the next three years.
Whilst the growing influence of Silicon Roundabout is great for companies in the tech industry, the benefits of London aren’t exclusively aimed at them. Almost anyone can benefit.
The city boasts the strongest fintech scene in the UK – these are the businesses successfully merging technology and financial services. The financial sector has long been a staple of Britain’s and, indeed, the world’s, economy – with Canary Wharf being home to the world’s leading banks. Looking beyond the financial services industry, important though it undoubtedly is, London hosts the most business HQs in Europe and is fast on its way to becoming the capital of globalisation.
London’s pull doesn’t end with business – it also receives 34% of the Art Council England’s annual funding allowance and is a world leader in research and development. All of this contributes to an open approach: no matter what’s your company’s product or aim, you are surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs and companies.
New and growing businesses across the UK are receiving great support at the moment and this year’s Budget only enhanced this as yet more money was invested to support SMEs.
London has been lucky enough to receive additional funding to help businesses in the early growth stages; in December, Mayor Boris Johnson pledged £25 million to the ‘London Co-Investment Fund’, in addition to £60 million provided by six private sector partners. This venture capital fund will invest in a tech, digital and science start-up every week for the next three years.
This support also extends to recruitment, as Boris Johnson also announced a £14 million fund for London SMEs to take on an apprentice in 2015. Businesses can now apply for a £3000 grant for every apprentice they employ.
So, if you’re based in London, your company is in a strong position to benefit from the groundswell of support, funding, and sheer economic momentum. With the ensuing growth, there’ll soon be a need to recruit young talent. You may already have experience of this process, or it may be a completely new step for the business – either way you’re in a strong position.
What makes London most exciting for new businesses is the amount of enthusiastic, talented graduates already living in the city. The capital is home to 4 of the top 40 universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education – that means thousands of hardworking potential employees are at the tip of your fingers, just waiting for the chance to make a success of themselves and your company.
……So what are you waiting for?
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