Research from business electricity comparison site Love Energy Savings reveals that North Scotland has the highest business energy rates in the UK.
Energy rates vary from 11.88p/KwH in North Scotland to 10.34p/KwH in the South East. But it’s not all doom and gloom for businesses thinking of settling up north – the region also offers businesses the best chances of being successful, with 54 per cent of businesses surviving for at least four years in North Scotland, compared with an average of just 47 per cent in the rest of the UK, possibly due to its more secluded location.
London, unsurprisingly, has the highest commercial rent prices at an average of £45.46 per square foot, while the cheapest can be found in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber at £15.91 per square foot.
As Phil Foster, managing director of business energy comparison site Love Energy Savings, explains, ‘When thinking about where to set up a business, many people may gloss over North Scotland. It doesn’t get much attention, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to flex your entrepreneurial muscles.
‘It’s home to Scotland’s third largest city, Aberdeen, which, thanks to its coastal location, means it’s one of the biggest centres in the UK for the energy industry. The Scottish coast is renowned for its petroleum deposits, and its oil industry remains one of the strongest in the world.’
Foster adds, ‘Because of this, North Scotland is a strong contender for those specialising in energy, finance and economics. And you don’t just have to be based in the oil industry to set up here. The Scottish Highlands have an abundance of wind to go around, meaning it’s perfect for wind farms, and the coast provides an ideal spot for harnessing tidal energy. If you’re looking to make waves in the area of energy efficiency, then you certainly shouldn’t discount North Scotland.
‘The business population of its largest city, Aberdeen, is approximately 10,120, considerably less than the average. This means less competition and more freedom to find and hone your niche.’
Love Energy Savings asked three business experts for their top tips on choosing a location for a business.
Location is key: Surround yourself with likeminded businesses
Izabela Minkiewicz, founder of Blue Almonds, shares her thoughts on why she decided to open her business among independent retailers. She says, ‘I have a background in Hedge Funds and Finance, so for me the costs and money side of things are always my first priority. When I first opened Blue Almonds in Chelsea, I had done a lot of research into the best shopping streets, and had my sights set on Walton Street for my boutique.
‘I knew rent would be high, as it always would be in this area, but as the street is full of independent boutiques and art galleries I thought our children’s interior store would fit in nicely. Of course, this was ten years ago and since then I have seen many businesses come and go, but the street is always full and we haven’t lost that unique, eclectic mix of businesses.
‘It’s the perfect location, tucked between Knightsbridge and South Kensington, so we are flanked by Harrods and The Conran Shop, which is great commercially. There’s a real community amongst us – I know many of the shop owners.
‘When we outgrew our original store 3 years ago, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to stay in the area, and when my current shop became available it was a very easy decision for me.’
Bigger is not always better
Izabela also highlights the hidden expenses when it comes to a bigger space and adds, ‘Obviously you factor in the basic costs of refurbishing and renovating the space, but I also looked at the rates and bills. A bigger space can seem like a good idea but it often comes with hidden expenses such as the amount of gas used or more electrical outlets can actually mean in the long run profit suffers.”
Go where the talent is
Sean Mallon, CEO of www.mybizdaq.com, believes, ‘The most important factor in where we started Bizdaq wasn’t energy prices or how long businesses run for – it was access to talent.
Many places across the UK benefit from lower operating costs, but the key factor for us was being in the right place to attract skilled staff to help the business to grow. Choosing a location based on price alone could be a costly mistake to make if your business relies on having skilled employees. For many businesses, particularly those in the tech industry, paying the premium of an office in a large city centre is a worthwhile investment in your business’s future.’
Cathy Hayward, managing director of Magenta Associates, agrees that talent is high up on the agenda when considering a business location. She concludes, ‘When I set up Magenta 6 years ago, it was about the talent pipeline in the local area. Brighton is a hotspot for media and creative people, so we are in an ideal position to attract those people. But if we were based somewhere outside of Brighton and London that would be much harder. Brighton is also an attractive place for clients to visit (usually when they want to tag a weekend by the sea on to a meeting!).’
Further reading on business location
Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!