Support for your business

If you want to start or grow a business, the government's GREAT Business website will direct you to a wide range of support services, from start-up advice, to mentoring, funding, importing and exporting. 

The Federation of Small Businesses also offers support and advice for small business owners.

For more specific advice for starting a business in Westminster please read the information below. 

1. Business planning and testing your idea

Business planning and testing your idea is a critical first step when thinking about starting a business or launching a new product. We recommend the following resources to begin thinking through your idea and testing it:

  • Starting a business – GOV.UK have produced a good step-by-step guide to starting a business
  • Business Model Canvas – This will which you develop an initial short-form business plan on one page. 
  • Lean Start-up – this is a method for developing businesses and products by experimentation and gradual product development. It is highly recommended and can reduce risk and expensive product launches and failures
  • Westminster Business Information Points offer access to trade journals and market research databases (online and in the libraries) for Cobra, Mintel etc.
  • The Westminster Enterprise Centre provides free and low cost, confidential one to one business advice to start-up and small businesses. 

2. Co-working spaces, Incubators and Accelerators

Co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators a proven method for supporting start-ups to survive and grow. The Council is at the forefront of a London-wide movement to increase the number of these services and make London a world-class environment for start-ups.

Accelerators

Accelerator programmes combine small amounts of investment with intensive mentoring and advice to help your business get the best possible start.

List of accelerator programmes across London.

Co-working spaces and incubators

The council has support the establishment of three affordable and highly support spaces for start-ups and micro businesses. These include

  • Hub Westminster - home to more than 500 entrepreneurs, 80% of which are working on start-up businesses working to achieve positive social or environmental impact.  
  • Maida Hill Place - provides access to commercial kitchen facilities, pop-up restaurant and events space, as well as business support services for its members, on flexible, pay-as-you-go terms. 
  • True Start - a Victoria-based investment hub specifically designed to support innovation in the retail and consumer sectors. TrueStart is looking for motivated entrepreneurs with innovative product, service or business ideas that are targeted at disrupting any aspect of the retail and consumer landscape. 
  • Makerversity provides affordable workspace, tools and workshop facilities to member businesses, as well as opportunities for collaborations, projects, investment and funding

View the interactive map of co-working spaces across London

3. Finance for your business

  • Business finance - GOV.UK offers an explanation of the different forms of finance for business and you can search for finance schemes relevant to your business.
  • Creative Industry Finance - there is a range of free support for creative businesses and opportunities to access loans of between £5000 and £25000
  • London Business Angels - LBA connects fast growth technology companies to equity finance through its membership of experienced angel investors. Operating since the early 1980s, LBA has the longest track record in the business, supporting existing investors, would-be investors and entrepreneurs. 
  • Start-Up Loans Fund - A government funded scheme to provide advice, business loans and mentoring to startup businesses.
  • Innovate UK - If you're looking to develop new projects and services and bring them closer to market, Innovate Uk provides a range of funding programmes and support  
  • London Co-Investment Fund invests in high growth technology, science and digital start-ups in London

4. Business networking events, training and mentoring

Expanding your network and mentoring can be a powerful way to support your business.

  • Meet-up is a service that allows you to search for hundreds of networking opportunities. Entrepreneurs In London  is one of the most popular and active meet-ups for entrepreneurs
  • Business Information Points in Westminster libraries host business information and networking sessions
  • Capital Enterprise newsletter has details of business support events
  • Westminster Business Council hosts regular networking events and mentoring meet-ups for businesses based in Westminster
  • HELP Enterprise supports disadvantaged people living in temporary accommodation, at risk of homelessness, to establish their own business as a means to financial independence
  • Maida Hill Place offers food business events and workshops
  • Westminster Enterprise Centre can help you increase your chances of success through business training workshops and the support of a fully qualified business adviser, providing confidential, one to one business advice
  • Growth Accelerator is the government's programme to help 26,000 businesses achieve high growth
  • 10,000 Small Businesses is a programme for small businesses that links learning to action

Business opportunities 

  • Capital E-Sourcing is a means for managing tendering activities, reducing the time and effort required for buyers and providing suppliers with instant access to new opportunities and supporting documentation
  • Cross River Partnership is aimed at opening up supply chain and procurement opportunities to small and medium sized enterprises in Central London
  • CompeteFor is a free service that enables businesses to compete for contract opportunities linked to major public and private sector buying organisations.

 

5. Pop-up shops and markets

Pop-ups and market stalls are a very popular way to trial new retail and food businesses. They can reduce the risk and expense of taking on a long term lease for new business ventures.  

There are organisations that can help you find pop-up opportunities in fantastic Westminster locations and that offer pop-up shop insurance for temporary retailers. Others offer services to help connect landlords with short-term tenancy opportunities to people who want to run a pop-up shop. You can find out more about these organisations by searching online. 

Information on becoming a trader in Westminster's street markets.

Maida Hill Place is a social enterprise with event space available for hire for food production, film hire and meetings. They also offer workshops and training for pop-ups.


Last updated: 2 October 2017
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