Your say / start up

‘I truly believe Bristol to be one of the best places in the UK to start and grow a business’

By ross mccaw, Thursday Nov 5, 2020

For many entrepreneurs and startups, there’s a perception that having a London office is vital to success.

In reality, however, London real estate is becoming increasingly less important, especially since the onset of Covid-19 and the impact of lockdown on flexible and home working.

For those looking to relocate or start their business, there are many vital decisions to make – the location of an office or base is one of those. I would highly encourage any business owner to look to Bristol as not only a viable location, but also as a place where their organisation can flourish. Here’s why:

The UK’s best business hub
When looking to start or grow a business, support is the key to success. Whether this comes from knowledgeable investors, like-minded entrepreneurs or friends and family, nothing beats getting strong, relevant advice to help you on your way.

For me, when I was looking for a location from which to base OurPeople, Bristol was unique. It boasts one of the best business hubs in the country, where brilliant minds from vastly different industries and life experience all come together to support each other. Not only this, but when I need help or have a question, the hub is there to assist me.

OurPeople’s Bristol office is located at Colston Tower. Photo: Martin Booth

While I had previously co-founded a company and had experience in starting and scaling organisations, the hub was invaluable to the growth of OurPeople. It was one of the reasons I decided to base the business in the local area – something I have no regrets in doing.

From a business owner’s perspective, being Bristol-based makes sense when it comes to talent. Not only is the cost of living lower than in London, but there is a wealth of expertise in the local area which to be tapped into.

Alongside this, with such a tight knit business community, it’s far easier to network and find good people who will strategically support your business and help it grow.

The city is great for networking, says Ross. Photo: Lowie Trevena

At OurPeople, we are lucky enough to have attracted some amazing talent – not only from the local area, but all over the UK.

Having flexible working practices in place has facilitated this, and I would recommend every business offer this flexibility. It’s another way to ensure you can find – and keep – good employees.

Work-life balance has become much more important to employees over the last few years. Gone are the days where people are happy to live to work.

In fact, a 2019 research report revealed almost 98 per cent of Brits believe work-life balance to be important – yet nearly 37 per cent admitted to having a poor work-life balance themselves.

Ross appreciates the city’s work-life balance. Photo: Lowie Trevena

The same report placed Bristol in the top five cities for respondents happiest with their work-life balance – a result I was not surprised to see given the fact the city has it all.

Not only is Bristol committed to ensuring workers are paid a living wage – with a coalition of employers already having been recognised for their work to make it a Living Wage City – but location-wise, we benefit from having the hustle and bustle of the city centre, while only being a short drive from the countryside and the beach.

What can other cities learn?
Bristol is set up perfectly for enterprises. Businesses who settle here can make the most of its great transport links which ensure easy access to all amenities and working spaces across the city.

Ross says that businesses should make use of the city’s transport links. Photo: Martin Booth

One thing I believe really stands out however – and is something other towns and cities can learn from – is the Bristol/Bath camaraderie. In my experience, neighbouring cities often fight each other. Here, it’s a real central hub of support.

Not only this, but the area benefits from having some of the best universities in the UK. With many students looking to stay in the area post-graduation, there is a constant stream of young talent. This is something the local technology community particularly has benefitted from.

I’m keen to encourage people into the local area, and truly believe Bristol to be one of the best places in the UK to start and grow a business. It possesses great talent, favourable lifestyle factors and boasts one of the most knowledgeable and supportive business hubs in the country.

Ross McCaw. Photo: Ross McCaw

Ross McCaw is CEO of OurPeople.

Main photo: Lowie Trevena

Read more: Are the days of office working over?

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