Starting a Business in Norwich: Bright Yellow Marketing
The Norwich based entrepreneur discusses the city's supportive business community, great networking events and why it's the next Canary Wharf
Company name: Bright Yellow Marketing
Founders: Sara and Chris Greenfield
Description: Bright Yellow Marketing offers social media training and mentoring
What’s great about starting a business in Norwich?
Friendly people, supportive business community, good networking opportunities. When we first started out in business, we were living in London but wanted a city near the sea and near the countryside. Norwich had just built Chapelfield Shopping Centre so there was a feeling of excitement alongside lovely quaint Norwich Lanes with an abundance of independent shops – and I had the same feeling about Norwich as I did when I bought a house at Canary Wharf in the early days and look what happened at Canary Wharf! People were saying to us “Why Norwich?” but I see its potential.
Norwich is now one of the top 10 shopping destinations in the UK, it is known as a city of literature and is one of the safest places in the UK to live; but what made the biggest impression on us was the business community. We arrived in Norwich not knowing anyone except the letting agent! We joined the Business Network International (BNI) and other networking groups and grew our business through the contacts we made in these groups as well as just getting out there.
Norwich has been the perfect place to set up business because it is a fairly compact city, so maintains its friendliness, but it is also the main business hub for Norfolk – which is a large county. The majority of businesses in Norwich are small/micro businesses so this is ideal for anyone looking to work with small companies. There are many support organisations, for example, Norfolk & Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES). Broadland council offer subsidised training for new businesses and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is also very active in developing support hubs.
What business support in Norwich have you used? How was it?
When we moved here from London, we found networking to be the best way to get established and find support. There are a range of offices and we were able to find a small office in central Norwich, which offered a very good inclusive package. NWES also offer support to new businesses. When we started up we didn’t seem to tick any of the boxes for the grants and support that were available at the time but new funding has been coming in over the past year, so I think there is now a lot more support available for new businesses – especially with the LEP’s success.
Name the top three reasons to set up a business in Norwich:
- Low cost – property values mean that it is easy to downsize to set up a new business.
- Vibrant and supportive business community.
- A good place to live – low crime, reasonable property prices, near the sea and countryside.
Where could Norwich be better / what does it need?
Norwich needs faster broadband and a better train service. The phone signal on the outskirts of Norwich and around Norfolk could be improved as there are still areas where you lose your signal.
How easy has it been to access finance to grow?
Our business has been self-financed – although when we wanted an overdraft facility for peace of mind during the recession, we was having difficulty getting it from the bank until someone we had met networking stepped in and then it was granted immediately over the phone!
Where do you go to network in Norwich?
We have been running our own events for a number of years and we attend other events as most of the networking groups support each other. When we ran our first event we were worried that there were already too many events in the City – but we had 120 people turn up!
There is a strong online community, with an active #norfolkhour as well as tweetups. We recently organised a “hootup” – a social media event sponsored by Hootsuite and believe that it was the biggest in Europe. This was a free event with a range of social media speakers, including the digital marketing manager of Autotrader who flew down to Norwich to speak at the event, and Virgin Money.
Where do you take a client for a business lunch?
Warings is great for informal meetings over coffee – they don’t rush you and the Twitter feed on their screen and free WiFi makes anyone in the digital world feel relaxed. For something more formal, the Maids Head Hotel has a great restaurant – their Wine Press Restaurant has the option of the main restaurant or an area that is perfect for a small private dinner party.
Where’s great for a company night out?
Yellows Restaurant (owned by Delia Smith) at the football ground is a great venue. The atmosphere is informal – the restaurant is based on an American diner – but it still manages to retain the sophistication. It is a large area so there is plenty of space for parties. We also like Caistor Hall and Maids Head for Christmas parties and EPIC Studios offer a range of music and concerts.