London versus the rest: Building a business away from the capital
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London versus the rest: Building a business away from the capital

12th September 2019
By Tom Ladle

When you think of London what first springs to mind? Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the iconic red bus, the tube, basically all the touristy stuff that reflects its unique character. However, it’s got a bit of a bad rap as of late, particularly with soaring house prices, eye-watering prices for a pint and how damp travelling during rush hour can be (Bakerloo Line, 31.04°C, Summer 2018.)

Yet, these negative points don’t seem to deter peeps from the capital. The population increased by 1.1 million between 2008 and 2017[1]. Although, London is rife with workers, it’s far from the only place businesses can flourish. So, why would you build a business away from the capital?

Cheaper commercial property

Perhaps the most enticing reason to build your empire outside of London is property prices. We talked about the population of London rising, yet over the past decade, about 550,000 more Britons left London than moved to the city[2]. The mismatch in numbers can be explained by birth rates compared to deaths and international immigration (hope that covers it.) The point being, people are leaving the capital in search of cheaper commercial property.

Whether you’re starting a company from scratch or are just looking for a change in scenery it’s wise to extend your search further than London. A smashing idea would be to look for a location that has relatively cheap office space combined with high rates of employment, so you can secure the most productive bunch for your company. See a list of the best cities to start a business in the UK here.

Create your own lane

Competition is fierce (Rrrr) in London and start-ups often have the lowest survival rates. With the highest initial costs to get off the ground, it was reported that only 50.1 per cent of companies traded for three years[3]. Enormous levels of competition can mean it’s very hard to shine amongst the crowd. Moving away from the hustle and bustle that consumes London could benefit your business. With less competition you can focus on developing your own identity rather than fretting about what competitors are up to.

The importance of culture

It’s not just brand identity that’s vital. Creating a desirable company culture that will attract talent from across the UK, potentially from across the globe (aim high), will see your business rise above the competition.  As mentioned, an obvious reason for such an influx into London is opportunity, but this doesn’t mean the right opportunities are always on offer. Wherever you decide to run your company, if you can offer an opportunity worth grabbing, then location is less of a factor.

There are numerous ways to create a positive culture. Demonstrating to your employees that they are valuable is a good starting point. Everyone wants to work for a company where they feel valued, are challenged and can progress. Create a supportive environment, with tones of positive reinforcement. Introduce remote working tools that encourage a better work-life balance, the list goes on. A tip top company culture incentivises productivity amongst employees and fantastic company culture isn’t exclusive to London. Check out our tips for creating a desirable company culture here.

Invest in the latest meeting tech

Even if your company sits outside London there’s no reason not to employ talent from London (there’s loads by the way.) Meeting tools such as conference calling, video calls and webinars mean who you employ is no longer restricted by location. Our flexible working 2019 survey showed that 81% believed flexible working would make a job more attractive to them and 79% believe working flexibly would make them more productive.

By investing in the tech, you are demonstrating to your employees that they are fully equipped to work remotely. Introducing flexible working doesn’t only empower your workforce but it also brings big savings. Our recent study highlights just how much SME’s can save by downsizing their office space and introducing flexible working. This is particularly handy if you’re just starting out and the capital to accommodate a huge team just isn’t there. Meeting tools are a nifty way to get around this, allowing you to grow without having to worry about unaffordable rent costs.

We love London

Reading this article, you may be under the impression that we have beef with London. This isn’t true, London is a fabulous city, full of culture and character. The purpose of the article is to show that London isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to business. Successful businesses are constantly sprouting up all over the UK and business productivity is certainly not restricted to London.

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47529562

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47529562

[3] https://www.ft.com/content/e3c745c4-88d8-11e7-afd2-74b8ecd34d3b