Some of you may have read a recent issue of the Northants Business magazine which quoted a survey stating that Northampton was the 3rd best location for start-up businesses in the UK after London and then Milton Keynes. Some people might say at this point that it’s a proximity thing and places become less affluent the further from London you go but then how do you explain Luton and Bedford not ranking ahead of Northampton.
One of the reasons for Northampton’s prominence in this area that came to mind a few days ago when I was talking to a client is the rent prices. She has two clothes shops, one in Northampton and the other in Bedford. The Northampton shop costs around £400 per month in rent and the other one costs £1,600, although an exact like for like comparison is difficult they both offer similar functionality being similar distances from the town centres. The Northampton store gets far more footfall and the overall profitability is much better than its counterpart which indicates outstanding value for money.
Another key factor is the positioning within the country and the transport links via the M1 and the rail system, the ease of which Northampton businesses can service the local area is the envy of those based in other towns and being able to get to London in an hour on the train means that they can have a presence nationally and internationally without the overheads. Haulage and transport related businesses are very common in Northampton and this in turn gives rise to service element required to coordinate these and provide engineers and drivers etc…
As a university town Northampton benefits from the growth hub where entrepreneurs are supported from day one and given an opportunity to network with other local businesses. There is also a fresh stream of qualified employees being released into the workforce and a close relationship between the two means that academic courses can be tailored to support local businesses. The business infrastructure in the town is exceptional with numerous accountants, networking groups, marketing specialists and other B2B service providers competing for clients, this leads to a high standard of services provided.
I have noticed over the years that Northampton lends itself to small businesses far better than Milton Keynes does where large companies on business parks are the norm and everything is a chain restaurant or shop. It may sound like a self-fulfilling prophecy but small businesses encourage small businesses and I believe that we are starting to see a snowball effect in this area with more potential entrepreneurs gaining the confidence to start-up because of other success stories they are hearing and seeing.
While at face value it looks as though everything is going Northampton’s way it would be foolish to assume this will always be the case and just from my experiences as a small business owner over the last year its clear the biggest threat to Northampton is the local road network which seems woefully inadequate. There has been a significant amount of investment in this recently and hopefully once completed driving around should be much faster and easier. The investment in the cultural quarter should also go a long way to address the centres image and make this a town where trendy entrepreneurs want to live.
I’m now a year into running my own accountancy business in Northampton, as a Chartered Management Accountant there were a few other choices such as joining an established practice or even a franchise but I wanted to be able to walk a mile in my client’s shoes and there was only one way to do that. One of the main reasons clients choose my practice as their accountants is because of the common ground we share, all of the advice given to them is not only based on helping them to comply with the tax rules but also improve the efficiency and security of their business based on the real world lessons I have learned.
If you want to work with an accountant who can relate to what you are going through as a small business owner than please contact us today for a free initial meeting, even if your tax returns aren’t due for a while you will be amazed at how much value can be added to your business by having our support from an early stage.