Our beautiful city of Birmingham is as innovative as it is inspiring, it’s no big surprise that a whopping 12,108 startups have chosen Birmingham as their home in the last year alone – making us the second largest home to new businesses after London.
In fact, data from Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) shows that us Brummies want to be our own boss more than any other city outside of London and the Start Up Loans Company has named us as the second most entrepreneurial city in the UK after London for the fifth year in a row.
Alright that’s enough bragging about Birmingham, you’re probably here because you’re a small business or a startup looking find out where it’s all happening in the second city. We get it, it can be a little daunting at times to know where to go for advice let alone find opportunities to develop and grow your business.
Being a home to many startups and SMEs, we know a thing or two about how to find your feet as a young business in Birmingham – so stick with us and you’ll be schmoozing with the best of them in no time.
If, like many Birmingham startups, you’re a bit of a one-man band or a micro team of less than 5 people – it can get a bit lonely. Especially when you throw in the fact that you might not have the network of suppliers you need yet. Think about it, a client puts some work your way – wouldn’t you rather have a roster of trustworthy resources to call on than have to panic and contract in someone you’re not confident in? And it’s not just your own partners and suppliers you could end up missing out on by keeping to yourself, you could be missing out on new clients too.
You may have guessed by now, we’re talking about networking. Networking for startups is the best thing you can do for your young business, it’s here that you can end up meeting suppliers, advisors and even clients – besides, it’s quite fun once you get the hang of it. Birmingham has lots of great startup and SME meetups, Birmingham Entrepreneurs and Business Birmingham to name but a few.
Never stop learning
So you know those meetups we talked about? Well they’re not just about rubbing shoulders with likeminded entrepreneurs – they’re also about learning how to stay ahead of the curve. A big one to mention is the SME Live show at the NEC which welcomes upwards of 5000 small business owners and operators annually. If you’d prefer something on a smaller scale, organisations like Silicon Canal and Tech Wednesday for tech businesses, and the likes of Business Birmingham and Startup Grind for general business advice host events all year round that aim to enrich attendees’ knowledge on important industry topics.
Incubate or accelerate
If going it alone isn’t really your style, there are alternate options that guide you through those tricky first years as a business. Startup incubators are essentially membership based coworking spaces where you can get legal, financial and business advice from mentors and occasionally even seed funding.
Whereas startup accelerator programmes are geared towards rapid growth for businesses and will quite often involve a hands-on approach to mentoring for a limited period of time where you’re effectively an extension of their business. They also often leverage their network of venture capitalists to buy shares in your company in exchange for their resources and support.
Alert the press
Like most young businesses, you probably want to shout from the rooftops that you’re here and ready to take on new ventures. Hold your horses there, it’s not enough to just shout about your business and its services in most cases – particularly if you’re in the B2B space.
You need to find a worthy story to tell about yourself, and this can be anything from how you got started to a really noteworthy project you’ve worked on recently. If you want to take it one step further, you could get yourself featured in some industry specific press by speaking with authority on issues or trends that will get people talking. This is a great way to get noticed by those in your space, particularly if you approach local press too.
Find the right environment
One of the most important things you can do for your business is to put down roots in an environment that encourages growth and collaboration. For you this could be a coworking space where you’re constantly surrounded by likeminded entrepreneurs, or it could be a flexible serviced office space that allows you to size up or size down as needed.
As an office space provider specialising in helping startups and SMEs, we love nothing more than seeing our tenants’ businesses flourish to the point where they outgrow their space – in part so we can move them into bigger and better premises! Having a branded space to bring clients will do wonders for your confidence as a startup business. Take it from us, nothing will help you to establish a brand for your business and company culture more than investing in your own office.
With more and more global businesses thinking about relocating their UK head offices to the West Midlands, it’s safe to say our second city is the place to be for startups. So now that you’ve nailed choosing a great location for your business and filled up on knowledge on how to make the most of it – it’s time to go make a name for yourself.