Five Great Places to Run a Business in the UK

Running a business can be an exciting and varied job, but where should you start? Read our guide on five great places to run a business to find out.

Author: Mr Tom Jeffries

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Many people dream of running their own business. Whether it’s a B&B, pub, or any other type of business, the freedom that comes from being your own boss is a big draw for many. If you’re serious about running a business, you’ll want to check out our list of five cities you should look at before buying.


A vibrant city, Leeds is establishing itself as a financial hub for the north. With the second largest economy in the UK, there is no shortage of people with money to spend in the city. The average age of 37.6 amongst the 783,968 residents also ensures there is a healthy range of potential customers.

Business Health

Leeds boasts a 60.2% new business survival rate across 2009-2012 – showing that three out of every five businesses started in 2009 was still running in 2012. This is the second highest in our selection, and is the sixth highest in the UK for the time range.

What sort of business should I run in Leeds?

Leeds’ centre is home to five shopping centres (with a sixth on the way), so a retail business would be a good bet. For the fashion-conscious the Victoria Quarter is the home to upmarket clothing and fashion brands, whilst the Trinity Centre is packed with high street brands and restaurants & cafés.

What does Leeds say?

Louise Fletcher at Independent Leeds says “Leeds is a great for start-ups, as there is a real community feel. It's a place where others are very willing to work with you on collaborations and give advice, very much wanting to see a great idea or initiative succeed. This network of collaborations can most easily be seen in the craft beer industry in Leeds, with small independent breweries supplying independent shops, bars and events.”


Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, is no stranger to small business; 90% of the 17,580 businesses in Edinburgh in 2014 had fewer than 49 employees. In 2013 there were 37.4 businesses per 1,000 people, and it has the lowest crime rate of all in this guide (64.2 crimes per 1,000 people).

Business Health

Edinburgh has a 54.4% survival rate from 2009-2012, meaning over half of new businesses started in 2009 were still running three years later. This may be the lowest of our selection; however Edinburgh still comes 21st out of the UK for the time range – beating start-up hotspots Manchester (52.4%) and Birmingham (53.8%).

What sort of business should I run in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh sees around 3.5 million visitors a year, and with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Tattoo amongst its 12 international festivals per year. In 2011 there were nearly 3.7 million staying visits, making a B&B or hotel a smart business to run in the city.


Welsh capital Cardiff is a hive of activity – from the three universities to its newly-redeveloped Cardiff Bay area and 7,500 capacity Cardiff Arena, you can see why it’s home to Admiral Group, 118 118 and Peacocks.

Business Health

Cardiff places 18th in the UK for business survival rate, with 55.7% of businesses started in 2009 still running in 2012. This can be attributed to its propensity for start-ups, fast broadband speed (averaging 21.3Mbits/second) and the Federation of Small Businesses’ Welsh team being based in the city.

What sort of business should I run in Cardiff?

The Cardiff Bay area of the city is full of trendy bars and restaurants, making it perfect for a food or drink based business.

Milton Keynes

Perhaps an unlikely choice, Milton Keynes’ purpose-built nature, distance from London and Launch Pad programme (where start-ups are offered support including free desk space for three months) make it a perfect business city. It’s also home to the head offices of Argos, Mercedes-Benz and the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 Team, proving it’s good enough for the best.

Business Health

Businesses stand a good chance of success in Milton Keynes, with 60.4% of businesses started in 2009 making it to 2012. This is the highest of all cities in this guide, and fifth overall in the UK for the time.

What sort of business should I run in Milton Keynes?

The Retail Relief funding scheme, where retail businesses are able to receive a discount of £1,500 in 2015-2016 makes a retail business a good option.


Jewel of the North East, Newcastle is a centre of business and of knowledge. Home to two universities, as well as the headquarters of Greggs and Virgin Money, Newcastle has serious business pedigree.

Business Health

With 56.9% of businesses started in 2009 still running in 2012 Newcastle is 16th in business survival rates for the UK.

What sort of business should I run in Newcastle?

Newcastle University, which has hosted the likes of Rowan Atkinson and Bryan Ferry, sits in the centre of the city. With 23,864 students attending the uni in 2014 a bar, nightclub or takeaway could be a fantastic way to capitalise on the constant supply of students.

Where would be best for you?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for where you should run a business – it will depend on your circumstances, location, type of business and much more. Head over to our businesses for sale page to find a business near you.

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