Be your own boss: A brief guide to starting a business in Manchester

By Joel Stein

Despite all the doom and gloom of the recession, this hasn’t stopped people setting up their own companies.

In 2011, 450,000 new start-ups were launched across the UK, and another 350,000 have been setup already this year.

If you’ve got a dream business plan and you want to make it as an entrepreneur, Manchester is a great place to be; office space is cheap, transport links are excellent and the city’s world-class universities guarantee a steady stream of talented graduates across a wide range of disciplines.

What really sets Manchester apart, though, is the spirit of enterprise and innovation that’s fuelled the city’s growth since the formative years of the Industrial Revolution.  

If you’re thinking of starting a business in Manchester, it’s crucial that you make the most of all the resources that are available to you, and that you take the time to figure out what will give you the edge in the city’s fast-moving, competitive business environment.

This brief guide covers three key areas for Manchester start-ups: support, funding and networking.


There are a number of organisations that can help and advise you on everything from writing a business plan to recruitment and growth strategies.

The Ask About Business service at Manchester Library is a great place to start. They have an online business resource – COBRA – with thousands of pages of information on local markets and opportunities, and you can book appointments with experts at your local library to discuss your plans.

The government-run Business Link website is another great resource for entrepreneurs, providing information on everything from accounting to health and safety.

Becoming a member of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is also a good idea – that will give you access to professional advice, training and events designed to help your business succeed.


There are a number of grants available from Government and other organisations to help start-ups get off the ground.

First of all, take a look at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ FAQs on accessing finance.

Next, check whether you’re eligible for a government-guaranteed loan.

Locally, there are some other potential sources of funding, such as the Charles Camilleri Foundation, which provides grants of up to £5,000 to young people, aged 16-25, who need financial backing to start a new business.


Never underestimate the benefits of networking. Attending events isn’t just a great way to keep on top of the latest developments in your industry, it’s also an invaluable opportunity to make new connections.

You might meet someone who wants to invest in your business, you could find the perfect candidate for the new role you’ve just created, or you could forge a vital relationship with a new supplier.

One of the longest-running events is the Manchester Business Breakfast Club, but membership isn’t cheap – there’s a monthly subscription of £40+ VAT         if you want to attend.

A newer addition to the city’s networking scene is the Manchester Lean Startup Group, where entrepreneurs share stories about their experiences following lean startup principles.

There are also a number of industry-specific events, such as the monthly Northern Digitals meet-up for Manchester’s creative types.

Sites like EventBrite and MeetUp are a great place to find out about all the latest networking events taking place in Manchester, so be sure to keep your eyes open.

Have you started a business in Manchester? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Thanks to Champion Accountants Manchester for providing this article.

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