Top 10 places to launch a business in the UK


New research from Tide, reveals which areas of the UK are currently booming with new businesses, what chances startups have of succeeding, and which sectors have seen the biggest startup growth over the past half-decade.

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Most attractive towns and cities outside of London to launch a business 

By combining data on a number of important factors the research revealed the best towns and cities to launch a business.

Rank Towns/Cities Increase In Startups % Five Year Survival Rate Tide Registered Businesses Businesses Per People Overall Score
1 Bournemouth 95.80% 45.65% 837 0.45% 8.60
2 Stevenage 26.70% 45.54% 520 0.59% 7.70
3 Watford 38.10% 45.45% 482 0.50% 7.45
4 Chelmsford 3.80% 47.21% 917 0.54% 7.26
5 Colchester 27.20% 44.94% 534 0.44% 6.77
6 Exeter 21.10% 43.96% 618 0.48% 6.63
7 Reading 5.50% 46.12% 911 0.42% 6.40
8 Peterborough 9.20% 40.91% 1,240 0.61% 6.39
9 Preston 0.00% 41.91% 856 0.60% 6.34
10 Blackburn 11.90% 40.16% 912 0.61% 6.29

Bournemouth is crowned the best city outside of London to start a business. The primary reason for Bournemouth’s high ranking is the 95.8% increase in startups between 2018 and 2019, which is by far the highest of any of the top 50 towns and cities. Bournemouth also has a five-year survival rate of 45.65% which makes it the fifth-best performing city in this regard.

The regions with the biggest growth in new startups 

  1. Bromsgrove, West Midlands – 171.3% increase
  2. Wyre Forest, West Midlands – 142% increase
  3. Redditch, West Midlands – 131.6% increase
  4. Kettering, East Midlands – 100% increase
  5. Bournemouth, South West – 95.8% increase
  6. Telford and Wrekin, West Midlands – 67.9% increase
  7. Wychavon, West Midlands – 67.4% increase
  8. Southampton, West Midlands – 59.3% increase
  9. Hinckley and Bosworth – 51.5% increase
  10. St Albans, South East – 43.6% increase

Looking at the rate at which startups were founded in 2018 and 2019, the research revealed that the top ten regions with the biggest growth in new start-ups were dominated by the South and the Midlands, with the top 3 including Bromsgrove, Wyre Forest and Redditch.

Unfortunately, not every new startup goes on to great success. Of the 350,505 businesses started in 2014, only 148,870 survived five years. Looking at the survival rate of new businesses between 2014 and 2019, the research found that businesses in Ballymena, West Somerset and Torridge have the highest startup survival rates respectively.

Sectors experiencing the fastest growth in new startups 

Rank Industry 2014 new start-ups 2019 new start-ups Difference
1 Postal and courier activities 3045 11070 263.5%
2 Mining of metal ores 10 25 150%
3 Veterinary activities 370 695 87.8%
4 Other manufacturing 875 1600 82.9%
5 Warehousing and support activities for transportation 1685 3070 82.2%

To discover which sectors are growing fastest in the UK, the research calculated the increase in startups in each sector between 2014 and 2019.

By far the sector to experience the greatest growth during the past half-decade is Postal and Courier services, with over 100% higher growth than any other sector at a 263.5% increase. Followed by the Mining of Metal Ores, which experienced a 150% increase in startups and Veterinary Activities where startups grew by 87.8% from 370 in 2014.

Oliver Prill, CEO at Tide comments on the findings: “Taking the step into entrepreneurship is a big one, and I am always impressed by the number of people who are keen to leap into the unknown and give it a go, particularly in the last year, when we have seen an unprecedented number of new businesses emerge. It’s a very difficult step to take though, and as the data shows, not all start-ups make it.

“There are a number of steps that new business owners can take to increase their chances of success.

  1. Before quitting your day job to start a business, try to run your business alongside your job – this can be exhausting, but it gives you the opportunity to see if the business can generate an income without the financial pressure
  2. When you’re ready to take the plunge and dedicate all your time to your business, take the time to assess how to use your time most effectively – the admin side of running a business is time consuming, but there are services, like Tide, out there to lighten the burden
  3. Fail fast – if something isn’t working, don’t waste time and energy trying to make it work, be agile and try something new. The beauty of starting your own business is that you have the freedom to take in the direction you want.”

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