Business advice for start-ups | Tips / FAQs for starting a business

Business advice for start-ups and entrepreneurial businesses: Thinking of starting a new company? We like to think of ourselves as one of your team and you’ll also need help from other experts along your journey. In this article we signpost you to your local specialists that will help you get your design idea to market. 

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Where can I access business advice to support my start up business?

Your first port of call should be your local Chamber of Commerce.

What are they?

A Chamber of Commerce is business network which supports a region or joint regions. Each chamber provides a voice for the business communities they represent to amplify their priorities and concerns.

The 52 accredited chambers of commerce in the UK are represented by the British Chamber of Commerce. The network supports and connects companies. They bring together businesses that build new relationships, share best practice and foster new opportunities.

Quite simply, Chambers of Commerce provide business advice to improve the local environment in which they operate.

How can my chamber of commerce help me?

Chambers of Commerce can help businesses through:

  • Introductions: Creating opportunities to meet other businesses at local events, and high-level introductions to prospects and industry leaders.
  • International trade: Providing advice, support and export documentation. They are a Global Business Network linked to British Chambers around the UK and the world.
  • Member benefits: These include HR support, health insurance and enterprise-level discounts.
  • Events: Getting involved with business awards, national conferences, and professional and local networking opportunities.
  • Influence and representation: Topics from Brexit, skills and infrastructure to local challenges such as digital connectivity. The Chamber network raises local business concerns with all levels at government and in the media.
  • Business profiling: Helping with strategic partnerships and sponsorship of major events as well as local level. The Chamber helps raise your business profile with your targeted B2B (business to business) audience.
  • Young Chamber: Connecting businesses to local education providers helping bridge the gap between education and the workplace.

Where can I find my local chamber of commerce?

Find the 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce at https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/join-a-chamber.

How does Simple Design Works work with their local chamber of commerce?

We’re members of our local Chamber of Commerce, and we love it. We’ve definitely taken advantage of the free networking events to meet local, like-minded businesses. We have dived into the Chambers local database and done business with other Chamber members. Plus we’ve taken informative training courses and our articles have been published in our local newsletter. We’re major fans.

What is the local enterprise partnership (LEP)?

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are business-led partnerships between local authorities and local private sector businesses. They provide business advice to start-ups, multi-million pound companies and everyone in between.

How can my LEP help me?

LEPs play a central role in determining local economic priorities. Their activities drive economic growth and job creation, improve infrastructure and raise workforce skills in their local area.

Where can I find my local LEP?

The LEP network can be found at www.lepnetwork.net/about-leps/location-map/. There are currently 38 LEPs.

What are enterprise zones?

Enterprise zones support businesses to grow. They’re designated areas across England that provide tax breaks or business rate discounts. They also have simplified local authority planning such as granting automatic planning permission for certain industrial or change of use development.

Enterprise zones have business-ready infrastructures, such as superfast broadband, easy access to transport links and a local labour pool. They often have a sector focus such as manufacturing, engineering, agri-food, construction or healthcare.

They’re great locations to do business for both new and expanding firms.

Where can I find my local enterprise zone?

There are 48 enterprise zones and growing! Find out details at https://enterprisezones.communities.gov.uk/enterprise-zone-finder/.

What is Simple Design Works’ experience of enterprise zones?

Simple Design Works started life in the heart of an enterprise zone so we were in good company with numerous global businesses as neighbours.

As we grew organically, we benefited from business tax relief on our offices and an instant pool of potential clients right outside our door. You’ll often find – and our local enterprise park is no different – that your local Growth Hub and Chamber of Commerce are located close by. This really helped us foster our relationship with them and meant that networking and training events were close by. The government rolled out superfast broadband throughout the zone so as we use online software, this was a huge boost for us.

You just mentioned growth hubs, what are they?

Growth Hubs are local public/private sector partnerships led by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS). They provide business funding, support and guidance.

Where can I find my local growth hub?

Find your network of 38 growth hubs at https://www.lepnetwork.net/growth-hubs/. Alternatively call 0300 456 3565 to speak to a business support advisor during normal working hours.

How has Simple Design Works worked with their local growth hubs?

Our growth hub shares building with the local Chamber of Commerce. Both offer funding advice and guidance, as well as other business growth support. We’ve consulted them on many occasions for funding advice for our clients. The facilities are fresh and modern, and the staff really friendly and helpful. They have pods available to rent for when we need a quiet space to work.

What is the small business charter?

They are business schools of which there are 35 across the UK and Ireland. They’ve been awarded the Small Business Charter to recognise their ongoing work to support small businesses, local economies and student entrepreneurship. Find them at https://www.smallbusinesscharter.org/find-business-school/

How can small business chartered business schools help me?

Small Business Chartered Business schools provide advice, events, business tips and support through the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) network. This group of individuals affiliated with business schools have been awarded the Small Business Charter and been an entrepreneur at some point.

EIRs feed their knowledge into business schools who improve their systems and processes. The groups help the business schools raise their profile with government and other policy makers to provide additional benefits to the SMEs they support.

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