Start Your Own Business

I’ve written a couple of nuts & bolts blogs on this subject, taking you through the step-by-step process and things you need to think about. You can find part one here and part two here.

In the meantime here’s a round-up of links to good stuff to get you started and keep you going in creative enterprise…

99u – 99u is an online and physical magazine aiming to provide the creative industries ‘missing curriculum’. It’s run by the same people as Behance, and has consistently excellent content on ways of working, work wellbeing, pitching, putting a portfolio together, interviews and industry insights. It’s my favourite site of this kind, great for start-ups, freelancers, and the long term self-employed alike.

Creative Boom – an online creative community with a UK base. The ‘tips’ section is worth a look and they run some good blogs. If you follow their Facebook page they also do a Friday roll call.

GOV.UK –  Official advice & resources for businesses in the UK. Really comprehensive in terms of your legal obligations, tax, VAT, PAYE, employer and employee support. Whatever advice you get, always back it up by checking here.

HM Revenue & Customs – for tax, national insurance & self-assessment issues. If you’re starting a business or becoming a freelancer you must register here. It’s quick and easy and if you’re a soletrader there is very little paperwork. If you’re becoming a limited company or partnership, you also need to register with Companies House (see below).

HMRC FAQs Forum – HMRC have finally set-up a forum to help people setting up a business or doing end-of-year accounts for the first time.

Intellectual Property Office – info about trademarks, copyright, patents etc.

Companies House – where you must register to become incorporated e.g. as a limited company, a limited partnership or community interest company. They also have a database to check the business name you want is available, this is worth checking even if you’re starting out as a soletrader as you may want to register later and don’t want a name-clash to complicate things.

Planning Portal for change of use – information on change of use for a commercial property e.g. converting a shop (A1) to a cafe (A3).

Valuation Office Agency – for help calculating business rates & finding the rateable value (RV) of a commercial property. Business rates are a huge addition to overheads to bricks & mortar businesses. It’s possible to apply for discounts on these for certain types of businesses, so definitely investigate this. Look online for up-to-date info, or speak to your local council.

Apprenticeships – info & grants on taking on apprentices.

Creative England – support and funding opportunities esp. in filmmaking, tech, new media.

Social Enterprise UK – More info on what a social enterprise is and how to set one up. You can also join for an annual fee which gets you quite a lot of support for your money.

Clearly So – network, support & resources for social enterprises and ethical business practice.

Arts & Business – for developing private & public sector partnerships in the arts.

My Business – small business practical tips.

British Association for women entrepreneurs

Nesta – resources (and funding opps) for start-ups & innovation in the creative industries & new tech.


People Per Hour – site for browsing freelancing job opps

Upwork – site for browsing freelancing job opps

Creative Pool UK – site for browsing freelancing job opps


Nottingham & the East Midlands –

Creative Quarter’s list of business support for Nottingham – includes their popular business rates relief scheme.

The Big House – new East Midlands iniative supporting digital and creative businesses

Real Creative Futures – free support for creative businesses through New Art Exchange, in partnership with Nottingham Business Ventures (NBV).

The Hive at NTU – business incubation centre with various support opportunities, you don’t have to have studied at NTU to access this.

Creative Greenhouse – for the East Midlands – network & opportunities for creative businesses, particularly good for for decorative arts and craft.

Enabling Innovation – a collaboration between East Mids universities to support innovative business, particularly in tech.

SEEM – Social Enterprise East Midlands.

East Midlands Incubation Network

Nottingham Business Venture – support, short courses and networking opps in Notts.

The Renewal Trust – offer a variety of support to businesses & entrepreneurs living in the Sneinton & St Anns area of Nottingham.

Nottinghamshire Community Foundation– local giving

Nottingham Community and Voluntary Centre – support for charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups.

Elsewhere –

Creative England

Scotland’s Cultural Enterprise Office

Wales’ Cultural Enterprise

North Yorkshire Business Link

Most universities have support programmes and advice centres for people seeking to set up their own business (even if you didn’t study at this, or any university, you are often still able to access them)… e.g Nottingham Trent University have The Hive & Coventry have ICE – Institute for Creative Enterprise. (Edit: the ICE is no-longer running but you can access information from the project here.)

Also, local authorities often offer similar programmes and support, so it’s worth having a search. Enterprise programmes come and go according to funding and many will be lost post-Brexit, but there are still a few funded for the next 3 years (up to 2019), so do some research.


There are many funding opportunities offered through local business support programmes such as Real Creative Futures, Enabling Innovation, and Big House Creative. See above for links.

Prince’s Trust – Includes grants, support and low cost finance for 18-30 year olds.

GOV.UK guide to financing

Kickstarter  & Indiegogo – crowdfunding for creative projects. There are also investment opportunities available through crowdfunding, such as Indigogo’s Equity platform and Crowdcube.

Arts Council Funding Options – including the popular Grants for the Arts (G4A) programme.

The arts council also provide a PDF of ‘Other Sources of Funding’, the latest update can be found in their list of Guidance & Information Sheets.

Charity Bank – lending for charities and social enterprises from an ethical organisation who understand specialist needs.

National Lottery funds include –

Awards for All is a grants scheme for local communities. There are different schemes for each of the four countries of the UK.

The Big Lottery Fund provides funding for charities, voluntary organisations, and projects that improve the health, education and environment of communities.

The Heritage Lottery Fund helps communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our heritage.

Also –

Nesta – funding innovation in science, technology & the arts

BFI – British Film Institute – advice, funding & support for filmmakers

Creative England – Esp. good for new media/tech/filmmakers

Youth Music  – is a UK-wide charity that targets young people living in areas of social and economic need. The charity funds music activities run by not-for-profit orgs for people aged up to 18.

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation – supporting charities & non-profits/social enterprises in community development.

As always, if you have any recommendations please add them to the comments or email

We like to stay up to date, if any of these hyperlinks are now dead or cyber-squatted, please let us know.

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