31 October 2013
I love Manchester. It took me underneath its wing when I arrived as a sixteen year old kid, playing piano to make some money, and helped me launch my first business. I am not sure I’d have had the same success if we’d started in London with everything costing that little bit more. How does Manchester compare these days? And is it fair to say that London is a little overrated? I certainly dispute that it’s the centre of the UK in the business sense of the word or in terms of innovation. And research seems to back me up on this, with an EY survey showing that entrepreneur-led companies in the North of England achieved 24% growth in turnover in the past year compared to London and the South, which managed a 19% increase.
And it doesn’t stop there. YouGov found that 70% of the London tech firms they surveyed recently said that the capital presented barriers that stifled their growth. Is this a surprise in an overpopulated city where the price of office space makes your eyes water just looking at it?
To do anything at the forefront of the tech industry there has to be a layer of creativity. If you look at successful person’s environment, there’s probably a lot of space – room to think and reflect. This is difficult to achieve in a city where everyone’s on top of each other – like London, where even the basics like travel have their complications. Yes, there’s a good pace about the city but what if it’s actually slowing progress down?
Workspace is so important if you’re going to create a creative environment where innovation can flow. UKFast has seen huge growth curves at three notable stages in the last decade, and they all coincide with an office move, where we’ve moved into bigger spaces.
The beautiful thing about Manchester is that the properties are affordable so you can actually acquire one rather than just renting, which means that you are more likely to invest in transforming that workplace into somewhere amazing for your team. It’s so easy to plug in and play in a big central city like Manchester. There’s a definite business community developing that I have never witnessed anywhere else.
We might not have the volume of businesses all packed into one area, but we have space to breathe. The internet means that you don’t have to be in London anymore to do business. North West cities like Manchester are taking advantage of this fact and our creative environments are growing. For me, and for UKFast, it’s the perfect place to be and I hear similar things from other Northwest business people.
Is it time to focus on Britain’s other cities?
What do you love about where you work and live? What makes it different?