Napoleon famously referred to Britain as a “nation of shopkeepers”. Ever since, British business owners have used this statement as a piece of entrepreneurial armour to showcase their ambition and determination to go it alone.
In 2017, statistics showed that people were starting up their own businesses at record levels, and with discussions surrounding office wellbeing and flexible hours becoming increasingly amplified, it shouldn’t be surprising that more Britons are deciding to create their own work environments. They’re also pursuing their own passions in the process.
Bristol is one such city that is experiencing an SME revolution. For the past few years it has become known for its developing ‘tech-stup’ industry. But increasingly, creative self-starters are flocking to the city.
Let’s meet the SMEs who believe that Bristol nurtures and supports embryonic companies, enabling them to carry to full-term.
Founder: Eleanor Wright
Industry: Social media
Wright started Soello, a social media agency in 2016 because she saw the potential the digital revolution held for making businesses stand out.
Soello uses social media platforms to help clients connect their brands with their customers.
Why did you choose to start your SME in Bristol?
Bristol was a no-brainer for building a business. Affordable rents, access to creative students and graduates – and all on a smaller scale so you can reach potential clients and build your network easily.
There is also a huge freelancer community here in all creative fields (marketing, design, photography, web development etc).
This is a perfect environment for a small business or startups as you can gain access to vast creative resources without tying yourself into the responsibilities of full-time employment, especially if you have your own business vision and want to pursue it!
Managing Director: Nicky Spear
Founded in 2006, Sustainable Kitchens is an environmentally aware design brand.
The team consists of highly skilled makers, designers and creative professionals who create high-quality kitchens that last the test of time.
Why has Bristol seen such a creative boom?
Over the past few years, there has been a surge in creative companies in Bristol. I think this is for many reasons.
In 2017, Bristol was named the number 1 city to live in the UK – and it’s easy to see why. It has an incredible, drinks, food and music scene and you can maintain a very healthy work-life balance.
The Bristol economy is booming and it is estimated that by 2025 Bristol SMEs will be contributing 5 billion to the UK Economy.
Bristol has been said to be one of the top 10 places to launch a business. Also many businesses are moving out of London as Brexit looms closer, but evidence shows that Bristol’s economy is set to continue to perform well and attract European talent, making it a very attractive city to work, launch or continue to grow a business in.
The Content Emporium
Founder: Charlotte Laing
Industry: Content marketing
After working in journalism, Laing started The Content Emporium in 2011. She works across print, digital, social media, and newsletter content, as well as offering ad-hoc digital support to clients.
What does Bristol offer SME owners that London doesn’t?
A move to London would have meant a huge drop in my living standards as well as higher costs for office space and probably for staff too. For me, Bristol has all the benefits of being a big cosmopolitan city without the London property prices.
It’s also really well connected–our clients are based all around the UK, so being in London wouldn’t even help us. There’s a great creative and entrepreneurial spirit in the air here, with an abundance of co-working or flexible-term office spaces, and lots of freelance creative talent available.
Both of these are often key for growth when you’re starting out. London doesn’t seem like the right place to be for SMEs as you’d have to spend too much just to exist.
And why Bristol? It’s just the vibe in the city that I feel has helped our success. People here create things
They put on exhibitions, they organise graffiti festivals, they open pop-up restaurants, they open their homes for arts trails. It’s just a place where anything seems possible, which has to be a good breeding ground for creativity.
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