Starting your business

Are you thinking of starting a new business? One in 27 new businesses in England are started within the South East Midlands, with the business survival rates being above the UK average. Our prime location naturally places us at the heart of where key innovators and markets come together.

Below is a list of local, regional and national resources to give you a comprehensive overview of how to start and grow your business successfully.

Make Business Your Business: Guide to starting and developing a new business

If you’re thinking about starting a new business, this guide gives useful tips and tricks to get you started. The document showcases the wide range of support available from the public and private sectors and suggests helpful links and advice. View Make Business Your Business.

Home Business Guide: Guide to starting and growing a business from home

This guide explains the process of setting up a business from home and dispels common myths about it. The document covers business essentials like rates, insurance and health and safety considerations as well as practical steps ad top tips from those already running a successful business at home. View The Home Business Guide.

Set up as self-employed (a ‘sole-trader’): Step by step  

This step by step tells you what you need to do when you start working for yourself, either as your only job or at the same time as working for an employer. View the self-employed step by step.

Set up a limited company: Step by step

This step by step tells you how to set up a limited company, appoint directors and shareholders or guarantors, and register for tax. View the limited company step by step.

Business rates

If your business has a non-domestic property (e.g. shops, offices, pubs) you’ll probably have to pay business rates. Get an introduction to business rates, including how your rates are calculated, what to pay and when and about relief schemes.

To find out about leases, renting, planning permission, waste and appeals, visit the Government’s premises rates page.


Wenta supports small businesses to start-up, grow and survive They offer a wide range of online and offline services including, business advice, training webinars and workshops, affordable business premises. Visit the Wenta website to find out more.

Enterprise Kettering

Enterprise Kettering supports start-up businesses to find out about the wide range of support, funding and guidance available to business in Kettering. Visit the Enterprise Kettering website to access the support.

University of Northampton business support team

The business support team offers a wide range of business support services to the Northamptonshire. Their team of experienced, accredited advisers can provide advice and guidance to entrepreneurs at all stages of business development.

Luton Borough Council

Luton Borough Council’s start-up support offers local advice for start-up businesses including a business support information pack. The guide covers starting, running and growing your business in Luton.

Northamptonshire County Council

Northamptonshire County Council has a range of useful resources for start-up businesses, including information on how to protect your intellectual property. 

Milton Keynes Council, Invest MK

Contact: [email protected]


Business & IP Centre, Northamptonshire Central Library

The Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire supports entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses from that first spark of inspiration to successfully launching and developing a business.

Services include: Workshops & seminars, Webinars, Free one to one advice, Useful start-up websites, Free subscription resources, Intellectual property

Contact: [email protected] Tel: 01604 361447

NatWest, Accelerator Programme & Hub Events

The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator supports and empowers entrepreneurs in and around Milton Keynes to scale their businesses to the next level.

Our free Entrepreneur Accelerator programmes specialising in High Growth, Climate and FinTech provide:

  • one-to-one coaching with our experienced Acceleration Managers
  • a programme of thought leadership and events
  • access to a network of like-minded peers, supported by our Ecosystem Managers
  • focused support with access to experts from across your specialism
  • use of our modern co-working spaces in one of our nationwide hubs

We also offer ‘free to attend, open to all’ events separate to the accelerator offering; if you’d like to be added to the comms distribution list please email [email protected] with EVENTS LIST in the header.

Contact: [email protected]


Enterprise Nation

Enterprise Nation has created a free e-mail course to help you turn your idea into a reality in just seven days. The course covers everything from your idea to website development. Sign up to course.

Enterprise Nation also has a variety of useful resource for businesses, including a Start Up Plan and a branding checklist.

Prince’s Trust

The Prince’s Trust offers 18 to 30-year-olds fully funded support to start their own businesses. The programme includes advice, workshops and mentoring. Visit The Prince’s Trust website to find out more.

Start your own business

The Start Your Own Business website is full of free resources, useful information and local contacts to help you start and grow your business successfully. Read their advice on getting started.

FSB – Federation of Small Businesses

FSB offers advice, financial expertise, legal support, networking, a free-to-enter set of local and national awards and a powerful voice in Government. FSB’s blogs cover a range of useful topic for start-up businesses.

Start Up Donut

Start Up Donut is a huge collection of resources for businesses. Visit the website to view blogs, articles, briefings and tools related to start up business ideas, setting up a business and financing a business.

Business Support Helpline

The Business Support Helpline provides free, impartial expert support for you and your business. Call 0800 998 1098 or email [email protected] to access the support.

Google Digital Garage

Google Digital Garage offers free digital training to help you to build your confidence and thrive. Discover tools to make your business succeed.

Amazon Small Business Accelerator

This package of support offers start-up businesses, aimed a fashion, beauty & wellbeing, food & drink, and home & leisure businesses, offers free bootcamps, tailored training and 12 months of free Enterprise Nation members. Visit the Enterprise Nation website for details.


UnLtd provides support for social entrepreneurs at the start of the journey to help them grow as leaders. The programme combines cash and coaching to help nurture ideas and grow impact. Find out more about UnLtd’s support for start-ups.

Sage Start-Up Tool

This free interactive tool provides advice and information covering all the major steps of starting a new business, and comes with a free downloadable e-book. Find out more at Sage Advice.

NatWest, Business Builder

Business Builder has been developed to support businesses and entrepreneurs at all stages (whether you’re just starting out or an established business looking to make a change). It's free and you don’t even have to be a NatWest customer to join. A useful set of resources, events and a community of likeminded businesses owners from across the UK.

Contact: Deborah Lewis, [email protected]

Website: https:/

Business plan templates

If you’re thinking about setting up your own company, getting your business plan right is crucial. The Prince’s Trust has a free business plan template available to download.

You can also download a free cash flow forecast template or a business plan template on the Start Up Loans website which can help you to manage your finances.

Business plan examples

Bplans has over 500 sample business plans in a wide variety of industries. Visit the Bplans website to view the examples.

How to write a business plan

Read Start Up Donut’s article on how to write your business plan, including keeping it short, realistic and professional.

FSB - Federation of Small Business

FSB memberships includes support, market-leading benefits and a voice heard in government at all levels. Find out about FSB membership.

Social Enterprise UK

Social Enterprise UK is the leading global authority on social enterprise and the biggest network of social enterprises in the UK. Membership is free for businesses with a turnover under £100,000.

Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce

The Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce represents over a third of the Northamptonshire workforce. Members receive a range of business support services to raise their company profile, protect their business and reduce overheads.

Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce

Membership to Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce allows your business to access a range of services which raises your profile, make new connections and promote your products and services to other members in the network.

Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce

Representing over a quarter of the Milton Keynes workforce, Milton Keynes Chamber members receive a range of business support services to raise their company profile, protect their business and reduce overheads.

Wellingborough & East Northants Chamber of Commerce

Members to the Wellingborough & East Northants Chamber of Commerce allows your business access to advice, networking opportunities and provides fresh

Northamptonshire Chamber & MK Chamber

Business networking, profile, business protection, start up business membership, international trade documentation, training, women with vision network, next generation chamber and business support.

Contact: Sunny Singh, [email protected], tel: 01604 490490


Start Up Loans

You can apply for a government-backed Start Up Loan of £500 to £25,00 to start or grow your business. Unlike a business loan, this is an unsecured personal loan. Apply for funding on the Start Up Loans website.

Virgin Start Up Loans

Virgin Start up Loans offer personal loans between £500 to £25,000. Every funded founder receives twelve months of business support. Apply on the Virgin Start Up Loans website.

Start your own business

The Start Your Own Business website features a useful blog post covering all things start-up funding and grants. Read the blog post and view their free guide to funding your business.