Starting a business in Canterbury: Careerz Limited

A better quality of life, great transport links and a close knit business body are just some of the reasons to start up in Canterbury says Careerz' founder

Company name: Careerz Limited
Founders: John Adams
Founded: 2013
Description: Offer specialist recruitment services across London, Kent and the South East; experienced in identifying and matching local talent in IT, telecoms, HR, finance and support.
Website: www.careerz.co.uk

What’s great about starting a business in Canterbury?

We moved to Canterbury just over three years ago. We were living in the Thames Valley but wanted a location that would offer a better quality of life for our particular family and work requirements. A major consideration was that it would be suitable as a location for a recruitment business so it needed to have good transportation links to London and the South East.

We were also keen to have access to a local business community support structure and local facilities that would enable us to grow the business. From a personal perspective, I wanted to work in a large town or city that had character and soul. Canterbury won hands down on all these fronts.

What business support in the city have you used? How was it?

When we made the decision to start the business, we contacted a number of local groups to build up our network and tap into any resources that were available. We managed to connect with a group called StartMyBiz who were very helpful with regards to directing me to specific individuals and groups that would be in a position to provide support.

We also joined the local Chamber of Commerce and Canterbury City Partnership (CCP) which has enabled us to build a strong contact base of local businesses through organised networking events. Each group were very supportive in getting us connected and feeling part of the local business community.

Name the top three reasons to set up a business in Canterbury:

  1. Lower Costs of Living: The cost of setting up business in Canterbury is less than most other major cities in the South of England. House prices are also generally lower so you can get much more for your money.
  2. Transport Links – You can get to London by train in less than one hour. It is expensive during peak hours but if you are able to book meetings later in the morning it is very reasonable. The motorway network also gives access to the South East and you are only around 30 minutes away from Dover for the ferries to France or Ashford for the Eurostar. Gatwick is also around one hour’s drive.
  3. Quality of Life – If you enjoy the rat race then Canterbury is not the place to start up a business. If you are looking for a more relaxed pace of life and have a business idea that the local economy will support then it is a great location. The city centre is normally busy with the large student population and tourists, which creates a buzz and energy.

Where could Canterbury be better / what does it need?

Given the city is a top tourist attraction it would benefit from more care being taken as far as its overall appearance and first impression. There is an initiative run by Canterbury City Partnership called the Business Improvement District (BID) that has been given the green light by local businesses to improve things. This has worked very well for a number of other UK cities so the expectation is that it will also benefit Canterbury.

The city could also benefit from better mobile telecoms facilities. We sometimes struggle to get a decent service, which can be frustrating when you depend on it for your business.

How easy has it been to access finance to grow?

We have no intention to seek finance to grow the business, as we prefer to build things organically. The bank has not really paid the business much attention to date which, I suppose, is not a great surprise.  StartMyBiz did make us aware of a number of local grants however we decided that it was not something that we wished to pursue.

Where do you go to network in Canterbury?

There are ample opportunities to network as most groups run sessions such as the Chamber of Commerce, StartMyBiz and Canterbury City Partnership. There is also a novel speed networking group which is run by Eastwell Events. It is great if you are not comfortable with the usual walking around a room networking format.

Where do you take a client for a business lunch?

There are many venues to choose from in Canterbury. My personal favourites are The Abode Hotel, The Old Brewery Tavern, Deesons and a more recent addition called The Ambrette. All are within a few minutes walk from our office, which can be dangerous at times.

Where’s great for a company night out?

As Canterbury has a very active student nightlife the city has its fair share of venues to choose from. There are numerous bars and clubs catering for the diverse customer base. My personal favourites include Bramley’s Bar and The Bishops Finger; however, we usually move around and end up in one of the later opening establishments such as The Cuban or Alberrys.

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