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Starting a business in West London

Home to industry pioneers Graze and notonthehighstreet.com and multi-national brands such as Sky, could your start-up flourish in West London?

Where is West London? Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond

Click the map to view other London regions

Why should you start a business in West London?

With the second largest number of micro-businesses and start-ups in the capital (NOMIS figures), West London has become a hub for entrepreneurs in the creative, media, product and technology sectors and leading names such as Graze, notonthehighstreet.com and Brompton Bikes all have their headquarters in West London boroughs.

Richmond especially has become a central location for fast-growth companies and established firms with over 5,000 businesses including Kodak, Ladbrokes, eBay, PayPal and the Securitas Group which is likely due to its good transport links into central London and it’s attractive surroundings. West London boroughs Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham also boast a number of international companies with offices for Sky, GlaxoSmithKline, Cisco, SAP, Disney and the Virgin Group, to name just a few.

Number of new start-ups (2014): 15,735  – see how this compares

Close proximity to Heathrow Airport via Hounslow, Richmond and Hillingdon, and the vast number of bus, overground and underground links in each borough, including access to the DLR and District and Piccadilly lines, Metro Line, and Great Western Line, also lends to West London’s appeal making it easy to get around as a start-up. Travelling by car is also a lot easier in West London as many of its boroughs are exempt from congestion charges and have easy access to motorways and junctions – for instance Hammersmith and Fulham is tied to A4 Great West Road and A40 WestWay.

While there are a number of co-working offices in West London such as Hayes Business Studios, Wimbletech, and several workspace locations, the area is more suited to start-up entrepreneurs looking for office premises and commercial lets – Ealing has a range of commercial premises available as does Harrow, while in Richmond, niche property developers are developing new sites and renovating old buildings in the Twickenham area to attract more creative businesses. For budding publicans or those looking to run their own bar or restaurant, Richmond also has a number of investment opportunities for premises such as the Stag Brewery in Mortlake, the Start and Garter Home in Richmond centre, or Ryde House in Twickenham. Hounslow – ‘London’s best connected borough’ – has several major business and retail developments which are currently in the final stages of being implemented including Alfa Laval, Great West Quarter, and Chiswick Business Park – and this regeneration is expected to support both retail firms and start-up entrepreneurs.

Number of new start-ups per sq km: 41  – see how this compares

In terms of commercial footfall, West London takes the crown for having one of the highest densities of shops and shopping centres. Harrow has two main centres and parades of shops throughout Station Road and College Road, Richmond has a reputation as an upmarket shopping location, Kingston boasts a number of large and small retailers and retail venue Bentalls, while Westfield London in White City is one of the largest shopping commercial centres in the UK.

Talent in West London

business talent 50.2%: Working age population with NVQ Level 4 and above (2015)
£622.37: Average full-time weekly earnings (2015)

West London has a large number of qualified workers with 50.2% in possession of NVQ Level 4 qualifications and above. Accessing this talent may be slightly more costly than if you started your business in the East, South or North of the capital as average weekly salaries are higher at £622.37 but this is to be expected given that Richmond and Kingston upon Thames are two of London’s most expensive areas.

In terms of accessing graduate talent, West London is also home to several well regarded universities including Brunel University and Kingston University and Kingston University also acts as a good resource for new businesses as it offers services to start and grow enterprises ranging from consultancy and research to facilities and equipment hire. In Hillingdon, Uxbridge College offers cost effective ways to hire apprentices or train staff.

Other initiatives in West London to help start-ups access talent include Wembley Works in Brent which connects businesses with local people looking for work and Hammersmith and Fulham’s Workzone, National Skills Academy which offers recruitment and training support to new and growing businesses. Brunel College also connects firms with students and is part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership; a government-funded scheme that facilitates the transfer of knowledge from academia into business.

Business support in West London

Accelerators and incubators

Although West London does have a wide range of support on offer, when it comes to accelerators and incubators the area is lacking. In Hammersmith and Fulham, start-up entrepreneurs can access the Petit Miracle Hub which is an incubator/pop-up area with space for up to 20 local business owners at Shepherd’s Bush West 12 centre but there seems to be very little else in the form of spaces that provide mentoring, funding and office facilities to new businesses.

Funding

Accessing funding in West London is pretty much the same as it would be to secure finance and grants across London as there aren’t many borough-specific grant schemes or funding initiatives. Hounslow Council offer finance workshops to advise businesses on how to source finance and the Richmond Retail and Business Alliance also highlights funding opportunities for small and medium enterprises.

Survival rates (2009-2014): 40.8%

Events

Events are where West London performs better. In Harrow, budding entrepreneurs can pitch their business idea in ‘Harrow’s Business Den’ event to win a support package provided by Harrow in Business which also provides mentoring, advice and training. Hillingdon’s Chamber of Commerce and Richmond Chamber of Commerce offer networking events for businesses across a series of business-related topics and in Hammersmith and Fulham a new business club has just launched which offers free monthly sessions and seminars on areas such as creating a website, SEO, and getting exposure. In addition, Kingston College enables businesses to “get involved with the next generation of entrepreneurs” by hosting a number of workshops and information sessions throughout the year via its Enterprise and Employment Zone.

Libraries and resources

If you’re looking to business libraries for resources and support, Richmond has a Reference Library which offers start-ups guides and business directories and it also offers its Complete Business Reference Adviser (COBRA) service which is free to Richmond Library members. Although not strictly a business library, Hounslow has an active education business organisation, Spark, which operates via the Hounslow Education Business Partnersip (ebp) and looks to help businesses reach out to its “pool” of talented students.

Quality of life in West London

quality of life 24.7mbps:Average broadband speed (2014)
£483,697:Average house prices (Apr 2016)

According to latest Land Registry statistics, average house prices for West London are around £483,697. This is cheaper than Central London, City of London and Tech City but house prices do vary markedly dependent on the borough as West London is home to two of the UK’s most expensive housing areas – Richmond and Hammersmith and Fulham. House prices in Richmond average at £672,262 while average house prices in Hammersmith and Fulham are a whopping £835,290. The cheapest areas to purchase/rent in West London are in Hillingdon (£400,254) and Hounslow (£415,267).

For budding entrepreneurs looking to move to the area it’s also worth noting that the number of crimes committed in West London is extremely high – there were a total of 126,997 criminal offences across January to December 2014 (Met Police stats). However, just as with house prices, this does vary borough to borough – Kingston, Richmond and Harrow have some of the lowest crime rates while Ealing and Brent have some of the higher crimes rates.

For things to do outside of business, West London has a wealth of parks, theatres, venues and bars and restaurants to suit all types. In terms of music, the area is host to Hammersmith Apollo in Shepherd’s Bush and Wembley Arena while for those that love the theatre, Hillingdon has four venues; the Beck Theatre, the Compass Theatre, Winston Churchill Theatre and the Open Air Theatre while Richmond is well known for its Richmond Theatre adjacent to the much-loved Richmond Park. Markets are a common attraction in West London and Richmond holds a Riverside artisan market every Sunday and a farmers’ market in Heron Square on Saturdays, Kingston also has a daily market and as a young town it also boasts its fair share of nightclubs; Pryzm, Hippodrome and McCluskys are three popular student favorites.

For foodies, Glass House Restaurant in Kew (Richmond) always has great reviews, while in Ealing authentic Japanese restaurant Kiraku comes highly recommended (Time Out 2014). Pubs and breweries are also a highlight and Ealing is home to many including the Dragonfly Brewery, Ealing Park Tavern and the award-winning Weird Beard Brew Co.

West London champion: What a real business thinks

Unii

Unii croppedThe social network’s founder discusses why the lifestyle, scenery and local amenities made him pick West London over the city centre.

Read it’s start-up story here.

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