Why choose Manchester for your start-up venture? - Workplace
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Why choose Manchester for your start-up venture?

Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

Why start-up in Manchester  where the atom was first split, the industrial revolution started, graphene was invented, and is home to the biggest university population in Europe. These points alone set the scene for a serious city where businesses can thrive.

It’s not just the remote working opportunities or inspiring and flexible shared offices in Manchester, like us at Workplace, that attract new entrepreneurs. Manchester has one of the highest start-up rates in the North West.

Ask entrepreneurs, like those in our vibrant coworking space, why they started a business in Manchester and some might say it’s simply the nearest city to their home location or they came to university here. Others tell a very different story; Manchester is becoming the chosen destination for new businesses and modern working. Here’s why:

Access to human resources

Firstly, there is access to amazing talent in Manchester, especially where tech and creative industries are concerned. With a student population exceeding 100,000 there is a ripe opportunity to snap up the best talent.

The cost of living in the city centre is not the lowest in the North West, but it is still much more affordable than other cities London or Leeds. With good public transport links and a thriving city centre community of house sharers, the net for talent resources is ever increasing.

Approximately 2.73 million people live in Greater Manchester, of which 1.76 million are of working age (16-64). Out of this, almost 40% are educated to NVQ level 4 or above.

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Market opportunities

Manchester is the 2nd largest city economy in the UK so there are great opportunities for businesses to capitalise on its resources and market opportunities. It has invested heavily in the tram system and has fast links to other cities with a 2 hour train connection to London and an international airport flying to over 220 destinations.

With all the talk of technology and creativity, Manchester is gearing itself up to be the tech city of the UK. Don’t, however, think that if you are not in these industries there is nothing for you. This brings ancillary business from the tech world such as financial, legal and support services. New businesses always need supplementary support so there is a huge pool of new entrepreneurs eager for help.

Outside London, Greater Manchester is the UK’s main centre for business, financial and professional Services with 324,000 employees and generating £16.2 billion annually.

City of creativity

For centuries, Manchester has been the city of innovation and hard work. As start-ups get priced out of the London market, the much lower cost of living and working in Manchester becomes more attractive.

Greater Manchester has the largest creative and digital clusters in the UK, employing over 65,000 people and generating £3.1 billion each year. The 200-acre MediaCity houses parts of the BBC and ITV, amongst others, and has given Manchester a serious reputation to rival London in film making, media and creative sectors.

Manchester is a vibrant and resilient city, known as an influencer for social change and it is working hard to make sure that new business is supported in the city. As a result, there are many new hubs for small businesses and coworking opening. There is something for everyone, some offering occasional desk rental and coworking, through to dedicated desk hire and small offices with business rates relief. For relatively low cost of entry, a start-up or remote worker from a larger company can now have a very impressive shared office in Manchester to work from.

Increased business funding

Due to the amount of new start-ups, national business support has been increased, with the government increasing funding into the area.

The new city mayor is set to make a huge difference to business support and Andy Burnham is certainly talking a good story so far. He is asking Manchester to focus on Manchester, and keep our determination on our own business of creating and scaling up enterprises. Manchester is doing its job and there is plenty of support out there for business start-ups. Some resources for you to look at are:

What does Manchester need now?

Talk to anyone working in Manchester and they’ll almost always say they love it. They use words like vibrant, supportive, friendly, forward-thinking. But the one thing everyone will tell you is that more finance needs to come to Manchester from London. Funders seem less likely to take a risk outside of London and only one thing will change this — PR.

Manchester needs to shout louder and more often about the great potential in this city and the great things that are taking place. We need to open the eyes of our capital city, and the rest of the world, to the advantages of investing and taking a chance on this great city. It is time for all us Manchester businesses to get on our soap boxes (or Boddingtons beer crates!) and continue telling our stories of modern business, hard work, success, and community. Our shared workspaces are the best place to start if you’re starting your own business and need a professional environment without the cost of fixed office rent. Read more about our work space in Manchester, and see why our coworking space is the ideal location to launch your start-up venture.

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How to make it as a freelancer

Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

Before you become a freelancer, I first suggest talking to others that have done it. Ask other freelancers what it is really like. Then, if you think you have a skill that you can make into a career and go it alone, then this is a good start. You will get flexibility, variation, and the chance to choose your work.

However, no work is just going to come to you. The only way to make it as a freelancer, like those using our shared work space in Manchester, is to work harder than you ever believed possible. Are you sure you want to work for you?

Once you have scrutinised your reasons and decided it is right for you, it’s time to look at the positives. It might just give you a happier and more prosperous life, and the opportunity to join an inspiring coworking space like Workplace. What’s to lose?

Below we have outlined a few tips from our members with a dedicated desk in Manchester that helped to get them started:

Plan like a professional

Now you have decided freelancing is for you, get your successful self together, concentrate on the positives and before you quit your job, plan your first month.

During those all important 30 days — while you still have a pay packet — work out what you are able to charge for your work. Decide the minimum work you need to do to scrape a living.

Draft and finalise your business plan, including all the financials. Make sure you have factored in professional fees for setting up your business, insurance you might need and any legal requirements for your business. Keep your eyes open, know your limits and plan accordingly so that you don’t run out of money before you get going.

Learn any tricks of the trade during your planning phase, think about where you will best find your customers, ask for advice and in doing so grow your network.
Interrogate the competition

Take a look at who else out there is offering what you offer. Read blogs, testimonials, web sites. Look first at who is on your door step and who will be your direct competition and understand what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Plan how you can deliver work that is better than anything your competitors are doing by learning from the field. Use the Internet to help you to set up shop to be the best in the high street.

Get yourself a mentor

This might be an ex-boss, a friend-of-a-friend you trust, or an external mentor. Freelancing is very lonely and until you have built up a network.

In Manchester we have the Business Growth Hub which provides mentors to startups and helps launch businesses and keep them on track. For freelancers aged 11 – 30, The Princess Trust provides mentoring and training.

Contact everyone you know

This is a great means of free marketing and getting your message out there. Write an inspirational post on social media about what you are doing and share and pass this on as everywhere as you can.

Anyone that has been in your past contacts, no matter how vaguely, could be a lead so shout it from the rooftops. Do this as soon as possible to advertise your business.

Work on your personal brand

If you are not up with everything that social media has to offer, then you need to be. Don’t think you can be a freelancer and avoid social media; this is going to be your life line in many ways.

Complete your profile with every bit of work information you can, every molecule of experience, interesting snippet, get it on all platforms. Then, look at every web site that offers freelancers in your market work and register with them. Get to as many freelancer and industry meetups and networking events that you can.

Remember that old moto, ‘givers receive’. Everyone you meet in these situation is there for the same reason so if you can pass on a contact or lead that might help they are more likely to remember you.

Be friends with everyone

Don’t burn any bridges; you know the saying, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’? Nothing can be truer than when you are building a business. If your freelance work is even slightly related to the work that you do now, there is a good chance that future work might come from that source.

This goes for your competitors; you want them to think well of you. Remember people move on, life changes so you really don’t need any enemies or anyone talking badly of you.

Where to base your business

Location is very important to capturing the right business for you. If you can’t yet afford a work space in Manchester, but that is where all your business will come from, then the first place to start is to set up a mailing address.

This can cost as little as £40, allowing you to use a city centre address as your business address. Moving up from that, venues like Workplace in Manchester will also allow flexible use of space, so you could work one day a month and line up all your meeting on that day. For a very low initial cost you have to kudos of a very posh office space.

If isolation gets to you, up your working days in a coworking space to full time, or even to a dedicated desk in Manchester. Not only does this give your business a base but it can also provide a network of inspiration, and potential paid work through the community.

Do good Work

This might be obvious but if you want to get referrals and more business you must produce the goods. This means making sure that you don’t overload yourself It also means keeping your ear to the ground and being agile.

Freelancing will be a life with lows and some huge highs, but it is a life worth living, so live it with everything you have. Read more about our work space in Manchester, to find out if Workplace is the right coworking space to start your business.

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