What's it like to run a business in Manchester?

The Virgin Media Business VOOM Tour has been on a summer break, but now it’s time for the big red bus to hit the road again - next stop, Manchester!

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Population: 530,300

Pros: Good start-up community, strong political support for growth in the city, lower costs than other major cities.

Cons: Can be hard to recruit talent for specific roles, lack of big business events in the city.

What to expect: An established creative business community of many start-ups and scale-ups, with great links to local universities.

To find out more about what it’s really like to run a business in Manchester, we caught up with local entrepreneurs Rachel Beattie, founder of Careaux, and Mark Kelly, marketing director of Push Doctor.

What are the best things about doing business in Manchester?

Rachel Beattie: The best thing about doing business in Manchester is the size of the city, everything is so central which means you can pack more into your day!

Also the people of Manchester means there is always someone there to help or to call upon. My dresses are handmade in Manchester so I am very passionate about celebrating Manchester and what it has to offer.

Mark Kelly: As with any place, the people make it and Manchester people are some of the best in the world. They are very creative, entrepreneurial and flexible. Any business that decides to locate here has a large pool of talent to choose from. I believe that’s the central reason we are seeing so many successes coming out of Manchester. Boohoo, AO.com and The Hut Group are great examples of this.

Most recently Push Doctor has grown to become the number one online doctor service in the UK. Everything we’ve achieved has been brought about by the great people we’ve brought into the business. We’ve been growing our head count at a very fast rate; from 22 people last year to 76 people today and plans to expand that to 150 people by the end of the year.

What are the downsides?

MK: I don’t think there are very many. Certain tech roles can be a challenge to recruit for but this is the case anywhere. Overall Manchester feels like a city on the up. It’s certainly more affordable than London. Any business choosing to locate here can enjoy a competitive advantage in operating costs over their competitors in the capital.

RB: The only downside I can think of is that sometimes the bigger events aren't held in Manchester but it is great to explore other cities as well.

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As with any place, the people make it and Manchester people are some of the best in the world

How would you describe the business culture of Manchester?

RB: The word which always springs to mind is community and since it is a close community everyone seems to know everyone so there is always a way to connect with someone, someone to help and also to help others too, which is extremely important.

MK: It’s pretty much in line with the general culture in Manchester; friendly, creative, fun loving and ambitious. There is also a sense of realism you don’t get in many other start-up hubs.

Overall there is a strong eco-system of support for entrepreneurs and start-ups. The Tech North initiative has been an important part of this- it was setup to encourage the growth of tech businesses in the north of England.

What tips would you have for anyone thinking of starting a business in Manchester?

RB: My tip would be to take advantage of the city and its events, there are so many events on and it is lovely to speak to people on the same journey, learn from others and see how you can help each other.

MK: Reach out and get involved in the community. Also, try to locate in the city centre; it’s the best part of the city and you will be much more connected to everything that’s happening here.

The Virgin Media Business VOOM bus will be in Exchange Square in Manchester on September 6th and 7th, 2017. Find out more and sign up now on the Virgin Media Business website.

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