Supporting SMEs and Start-ups
Small and medium-sized enterprises are significant contributors to the wider UK economy and within the City, driving growth and employment. In fact, SMEs make up over 98% of all businesses within the Square Mile. The City of London Corporation is committed to encouraging and supporting enterprise and small business growth within the Square Mile, its neighbouring boroughs and throughout the UK.
We offer a wide range of support and advice for smaller businesses, from advice on accessing finance and helping firms to find suitable premises, to support for establishing responsible business practices, sustainable and local procurement, and contingency planning processes.
You will find information about some of our services, programmes and resources within this section and via the links on the right.
Small Business Research + Enterprise Centre
Our business research facility provides you with access to an extensive range of business data, information and support events.
If you are thinking of starting a business, Small Business Research + Enterprise Centre can help you access market research, business planning, business advice sessions, and events.
Samuel Wilson's Loan Trust
The Samuel Wilson’s Loan Trust provides loans of up to £50,000 to help young entrepreneurs under the age of 40 start or develop a new business. Loans must be repaid within five years, although the exact interest rate and period of the loan will be considered on an individual basis.
Market research helps you identify key trends in your industry and identify potential markets for growth. It is the best way to keep up with market trends, changes in relevant legislation, new innovations, all of which will help you maintain a competitive edge.
Small Business Research + Enterprise Centre
A SBREC membership will give you access to detailed, reliable business data, from anywhere in the UK. See the full list of business data resources available.
Innovation and Growth
The City of London Corporation's innovation and growth directorate provides timely, robust and independent analyses of issues and trends affecting the City of London and the wider UK economy. Find out more and browse our recent research publications.
Small Business Research + Enterprise Events
Small Business Research + Enterprise Centre run an extensive range of events to help you start or grow your business. Topics range from starting a business, digital marketing, diversity and equality to digital accounting.
View all business support events via Small Business Research + Enterprise
All events take place in webinar format and are free to attend.
A healthy and happy workforce is a productive one, and is beneficial to the bottom line. Businesses of all sizes (including sole traders) and all sectors are able to access free signposting and support around workforce health and wellbeing through the City Corporation’s Business Healthy programme.
Business Healthy is led by the City Corporation’s Public Health team and covers the full spectrum of workforce health and wellbeing, including mental health and physical wellbeing.
Membership of Business Healthy is free and members receive regular updates about workforce health and wellbeing news from the City and beyond. Visit Business Healthy to find out more.
Heart of the City
Heart of the City is a charity that supports SMEs to be a force for good. Through workshops, masterclasses and expert mentoring, it helps small business leaders to take their first steps towards making responsible business a meaningful part of their business. Heart of the City believes that every business can be a force for good and that SMEs have a significant role to play in creating a sustainable and inclusive economy. Through the Heart of the City foundation programme, leaders learn how to support local communities, reduce environmental impact, build a more diverse workforce and look after employees’ wellbeing – and how to put it all into a strategy that’ll help SMEs succeed.
Cyber Griffin was founded by the City of London Police in 2017 to support businesses and individuals in the Square Mile to protect themselves from cybercrime. Cyber Griffin offers a range of services which are tailored to meet individual business needs. All services are provided free of charge and are designed to be accessible to everyone, whether they have very little knowledge of cybercrime, or are individuals who hold IT security and risk management roles.
The services offered as part of Cyber Griffin are now all being delivered virtually and include the following:
- Baseline briefings designed to raise baseline level of knowledge of all staff by providing basic, effective advice to those with little or no knowledge of cyber security.
- Incident response training to help review and improve responses to cyber-attack.
- Cyber capability assessment to review an organisation’s current cyber security maturity level and highlight any identified vulnerabilities.
Can't find what you're looking for? See if one of our partners can help.
The GOV.UK portal (which replaces the Business Link website) offers general support and advice on setting up a business, as well as guidance on how to access Government services and resources.
Local enterprise agencies
A local enterprise support organisation can offer support in developing your idea for a business ideas or help you get your business established or grow. Capital Enterprise offers a directory of providers who give business advice to new businesses and entrepreneurs in London.
HM Revenues and Customs
The Government's self-employment pages offer advice on what you need to do when you start a business, including tax and National Insurance and information about the resources and support offered to new businesses by the Government.
HMRC have updated their advice on how tax has been made simpler, easier and quicker. Download their updated Supporting Small Business report.
London Growth Hub
The London Growth Hub is delivered by the LEAP (London Economic Action Partnership). Chaired by the Mayor of London, the LEAP is the body through which the Mayoralty works with London’s boroughs and businesses to take a strategic view of the regeneration, employment and skills agenda for London.
Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW)
An ICAEW Chartered Accountant can help you start up a business and run it with confidence. The support of a finance professional with in-depth knowledge, technical expertise and commercial insight can ensure that you make the best decisions from the outset.
Free, specialist advice from digital and business experts - tailored for your business
Digital Boost is a non-profit online platform that connects you with thousands of expert volunteers for free 1:1 personalised support.
Don't struggle alone - get tailored help with the challenges that are keeping you awake at night:
- Need to improve your website? Get input from a web designer
- Overwhelmed by SEO? Let an expert take a look
- Need support on your fundraising strategy? Have a chat with a pro
From strategy to social media, operations to HR (and much more), Digital Boost expert volunteers are ready to help you.
We also offer Masterclasses and personalised learning recommendations to help you continue your learning journey.
Request your first Digital Boost mentoring session today!
NatWest Business Builder
Business Builder is a completely free online tool which is entirely self serve and can be accessed 24/7 through the dedicated online portal. Designed to support entrepreneurs and business owners to up skill and develop themselves and their business at a time and pace that suits them.
The Business Builder has been developed to support businesses and entrepreneurs at all stages (whether just starting out or an established business looking to make a change). It’s completely free and you don’t even have to be a NatWest customer to join.
Business Builder supports:
- Idea validation helping users to explore and validate of new business ideas or pivot their existing business
- Business essentials giving users the knowledge, tools & techniques to put the business processes in place
- Entrepreneur development helping users to develop themselves at the same time as their business
- Growth strategies supporting users to put sustainable growth plans in place, identifying risks and opportunities
To discover how you and your business can access the power to start, scale and succeed, visit NatWest Business Builder.
Small Business Research + Enterprise Centre has partnered with Google to bring you free 1-to-1 digital mentoring so small businesses can access expert guidance and support to help adapt their business online.
We understand, UK businesses need more than a one-size fits-all strategy. Google’s Digital Skills offers free 1-to-1 mentoring with expert guidance tailored to your specific digital needs.
In this programme small businesses are paired with an experienced mentor who specialise in the areas that they may need help in, from digital marketing implementation to business strategy.
Mentoring Topics include:
- Become more discoverable on Google Search and Maps
- Creating a digital marketing strategy
- Setting up a Social Media strategy
- How to sell my products online
- Building or optimising my website
- Google Analytics
Amazon Small Business Accelerator
Enterprise Nation has partnered with Amazon to bring you the Small Business Accelerator.
Amazon Small Business Accelerator is a free, online educational programme for anyone who wants to start a new online business or grow an existing one through a programme of support to assist start-ups and SMEs.
The online learning is tailored to your experience level, with a comprehensive curriculum covering website building, selling online, social media, marketing, managing cashflow, selling on Amazon, and identifying growth opportunities.
Not only is the training free, but by taking part you can access events and offers from partners, and join an intensive bootcamp experience.
Visit Enterprise Nation, for more information and to register.