Here's why Manchester is a great UK city for startups and entrepreneurs

Manchester is a hive of business activity – with a successful startup incubator on the University of Manchester campus, a thriving tech culture, and an autumn lineup of elite motivational sessions for businesses in 2018.

We’ve pulled together all the reasons why small business owners and entrepreneurs should keep their eye on Manchester and what it is that makes the city such a success.

Why startups choose Manchester

Earlier this year, startups.co.uk spoke to business owners operating out of WeWork’s coworking space in Manchester. When asked why they were attracted to the northern city, they mentioned the following factors influencing their decision to set up in Manchester:

  • The thriving tech scene
  • The lower cost of starting up a business in Manchester compared to London
  • Opportunities to collaborate with other like-minded business owners

But those aren’t the only factors that make Manchester such a success. Depending on the kind of small business you run, there are plenty of other reasons to set up shop in Manchester.

Support for young entrepreneurs

Providing support for budding businesses, Manchester Youth Market is an initiative that’s focused on encouraging 16 to 30 year old students or residents of the city to make a go of their entrepreneurial ideas. Whether you’re new to running a business or just new to trading to the public, the scheme offers training and development to help you get things off the ground.

Access to Manchester Youth Market comes with test trading opportunities, and a ready-made network of people to collaborate with. Some businesses may also apply for a grant. There’s even the option to apply via video rather than using the standard application form.

Incubate your startup

If the Youth Market isn’t right for you, fear not. There are other ways of boosting your startup in Manchester. UMI3 LTD, the university of Manchester’s innovation company – and where Simply Business’s Group CEO, Jason Stockwood, is Chairman of the Project Development Committee – might be just what you’re looking for.

UMIP, a division of UMI3 Ltd, runs the University’s startup incubator programme, the Innovation Optimiser (IO), which is reporting an impressive first few years of operation.

Since IO began, it has supported 20 new businesses, engaging with more than 1,300 people through 62 events held across the University campus. The programme has benefited 164 entrepreneurs, awarding more than £265,000 of funding for new campus-based businesses, reports Manchester Evening News – all within less than three years.

Opportunities to collaborate

While bigger businesses are well able to make the most of sitting in a hub of business activity, the opportunity is also there for startups and SMEs. As business continues to boom in Manchester, it’s easier than ever to find other businesses to collaborate with.

And collaboration is key, according to Greg Carter, CEO of Growth Street. In his opinion piece in Manchester Evening News, he cites Manchester’s young, talented workforce, and the number of important national organisations, like the BBC, that have bases in the region, as reasons for its success.

Carter suggests that as well as focusing inwards, businesses need to look to the rest of the country for economies can help them thrive. For example, Manchester’s tech culture pairs well with London’s financial centre, and working with other businesses outside of the city will help those within to continue going from strength to strength.

Free motivational sessions for businesses

Providing even more motivation for the Manchester business community, leading performance psychology coach and proud northerner, Martin Robert Hall, is set to offer his services to Manchester-based organisations for free this September, October, and November.

For the past 10 years, he has coached the region’s elite athletes and businesses to achieve their goals. The impressive list of clients on Martin’s books includes the likes of footballer Joe Thompson, Paralympian Carly Tait, and businesses GE Capital and Zurich Insurance.

With sports psychology behind his methods, he’s known for strengthening the mental agility, resilience, focus, leadership skills, and positive attitudes of top managers. Through his sessions, he hopes to spread this motivation and positivity throughout the Greater Manchester business community.

What’s holding business back?

With all this positive news and support for Manchester-based businesses, there’s one thing that could be holding the region’s small enterprises back.

According to Manchester Evening News, an estimated 45,000 micro-businesses – those with five employees or fewer – in Greater Manchester don’t have a website.

In a bid to buck this trend, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has partnered with digital solution platform, UENI, to provide websites free of charge for small and independent businesses until the end of August. That’s after a recent UENI survey found that lack of time to set up a website is the reason 32 per cent of small and independent businesses in the region don’t have one.

Christine Telyan from UENI said: “There are many excellent do-it-yourself website builders out there, but one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of setting up a website is figuring out what information belongs on your website so that it appeals to customers and ranks well on search engines.

“It can take weeks to get all the aspects of a website in order and many small business owners, from hairdressers to electricians, don’t have time to write professional copy for a website. It is not surprising to find that lack of time or skill means many small business owners do not end up building a website for their business.”

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