START YOUR BUSINESS
London libraries are transforming the way ideas grow into successful businesses through free workshops, one-to-one support sessions with our SiLL Project Coordinator and access to a wide range of business resources and databases.
To take part in the Start-ups in London Libraries workshops, you or your business needs to have a London-based postcode and you need to be:
The owner of a business which has been registered at Companies house for fewer than 12 months, or;
An aspiring entrepreneur with a business idea you want to develop
Federation of Small Businesses
offers members a wide range of business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government.
Start Up Donut
free online business advice for starting up. Also contains useful information for existing business owners
This site offers businesses access to a list of quality-assured business mentoring organisations across Britain
London Business Hub
learn more about how the Mayor of London can support you and your business
Business Advice Service
free advice to start ups and SMEs provided by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
South East London Business Network SELBN
Your region's business network. 21st Century networking and marketing for small business.
Helps businesses develop new products and services and access technology.
London South East Colleges
for advice, business skills training and ongoing support please contact the commercial team at London South East Colleges.
dedicated website providing information on all business support available from the UK government
South East London Chamber of Commerce
is in business for business, providing companies with practical support and excellent networking opportunities.
Free and impartial legal guidance for businesses, including‘Quick Guides’on the legal requirements for what, where and how you sell.
Start-up Business Support
Producing a business plan is one of the most important tasks when starting up a new business. It allows you to collate ideas, set targets, plan for the future of the business and confirm that the business idea is realistic and workable. The business plan is also an essential tool for attracting funding to get started. It is a dynamic document that should be reviewed regularly to help with monitoring and measuring the performance of a business.
There are plenty of tools to help you write your business plan:
Cobra – The Complete Business Reference Adviser - Information on how to start and run a business, write a business plan and find grants. Available at home via your library card or within Bexley Libraries.
The resources below are useful to find the latest news on your business topic including articles from specialist business and academic journals, newspapers and magazines, market research reports and case studies.
EBSCOhost is an intuitive online research platform used by thousands of institutions and millions of users worldwide. With quality databases and search features, EBSCOhost helps researchers of all kinds find the information they need fast.
EMIS– Emerging Markets Research, Data and News - Analysis and data for 125 emerging markets from the most trusted global and local sources. Includes over 3 million company reports, sector research and news.
Factiva– business information and research tool owned by Dow Jones & Company. Factiva aggregates content from both licensed and free sources, and provides organisations with search, alerting, dissemination, and other information management capabilities.
GOV.UK Grant Finder
Various initiatives are operated by certain government departments and agencies that offer help to business start ups, particularly those involved in technology, research and development (R&D) and exporting.
GOV.UK Start Up Loan
Apply for a government-backed Start Up Loan of £500 to £25,000 to start or grow your business.
Unlike a business loan, this is an unsecured personal loan.
You’ll get free support and guidance to help write your business plan, and successful applicants get up to 12 months of free mentoring.
Venture capital is a means of financing a business where a proportion of the firm's share capital - or equity - is sold in return
for a cash investment in the enterprise. It means that some measure of control or ownership over the business has to be given to the new shareholder. Most, but not all, venture capital investors are looking to make quite large investments, often over £1 million, which excludes them from providing finance to the majority of start ups. The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA, ) publishes a list of member firms, their contact details and the types of funding that they provide.
Business angels are private investors who look for opportunities to invest money into new or growing small firms. Most regions of the UK provide services that match business angels with suitable start ups, which encourages local investment and mentoring on a small scale. The UK Business Angels Association () matches business angels with small firms requiring equity finance. Angels Den () runs regional workshops for young companies looking for angel funding. Business angels typically want to invest funds of between £10,000 and £100,000, although they can also form syndicates of investors who will invest larger amounts.
Crowdfunding is a method of financing that enables a large number of people to invest a very small amount of money in a business. A business seeking investment is usually matched with potential investors online via specialist crowdfunding platforms such as Crowdcube () and Kickstarter ().
Equity crowdfunding enables groups of investors to receive shares in the business in exchange for their investment. The value of their stake in the business can go up or down, as with any investment in shares.
The UK Crowdfunding Association has published more information about crowdfunding, which can be viewed at .
New Enterprise Allowance (NEA)
The NEA is an initiative funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that helps unemployed people to start up their own business in England, Scotland and Wales.
To be eligible, applicants must be aged 18 or over and be claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance; applicants can access the allowance from the first day of their claim. Lone parents or people who are sick and receive Income Support are also eligible to apply. Some people who receive Universal Credit may also be eligible.
The NEA provides access to a mentor and financial support comprising a weekly allowance paid for up to 26 weeks (up to a total of £1,274). Participants on the NEA may also apply for a Start Up Loan, subject to status, to help towards the costs of starting their business. Go to for further information about the scheme.
Responsible finance providers (RFPs)
RFPs specialise in providing finance to new and growing firms that have been unable to secure finance through traditional providers such as banks. Most RFPs are members of Responsible Finance (RF, ), which can provide further information and the contact details of the nearest RFP. RFPs were previously known as Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs).
The Prince's Trust
The Prince's Trust () helps young people aged between 18 and 30, who are unemployed or under-employed, to start up in business. The trust aims to support disadvantaged young people who find it difficult to obtain finance from conventional sources. The trust operates from regional offices, arranging advice and training, as well as grants and loans.
Shell LiveWIRE supports young people aged between 16 and 30 anywhere in the UK who are either planning to start a business in the next six months, or who are in their first year of trading. Shell LiveWIRE runs two business awards: the monthly £5,000 Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award for start ups, and the annual £10,000 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Go to for further information.
Lots of businesses can look good on paper but it is a good idea to test your business idea to really know how successful it is.
Test trading allows you to practice whether you are able to sell your product or service. The key to successful test trading is to plan what you hope to achieve:
Where will you test trade and why? For example, will you rent a market stall or trade on the street?
How much will it cost?
Will you need a licence?
How many products will you aim to sell and at what price? How many products will you need to sell and at what price to prove your market?
What do you hope to learn?
There are lots of places where you could test trade. You could:
rent a market stall for a short period to practise selling your product or introduce people to your service – selling in and amongst seasoned market trades people is also a good learning curve and will help you to improve your sales skills!
sell at street fairs or flea markets to judge demand for your product or service – selling at street fairs, flea markets or holiday markets only requires a temporary street vendor licence.
go door-to-door with a sample of your product – you won’t be able to take any money for your sample and will have to inform samplers if your product is food or drink that you can’t take responsibility, for example, for any allergic reaction a taster might have.
Test Trading in Bexley:
If you are a trader and wish to use the public highway to sell goods, place out a shop display of any type or place out tables and chairs for eating or drinking you will need a Temporary Street Trading Licence.
Getting a licence
Applications must be made in writing 28 days prior to trading and you will be asked to provide specific information, including details of the area you wish to use.
You must comply with any conditions attached to a licence.
If you intend trading in food and/or drinks see Food Safety concerning food hygiene/safety certificates.
Representing a charity
Charity collections are licensed by the Metropolitan Police.
Going from door to door
Pedlars licences, where you go from house to house are available to residents of the London Borough of Bexley from the Metropolitan Police by emailing email@example.com
Trading in Bexleyheath Broadway
If you wish to apply for a Street Trading Licence in the Broadway Pedestrian Area, Bexleyheath, you need to contact:
BID (Business Improvement District)
Bexleyheath Business Partnership Ltd
C/O Bexley Central Library
2 Townley Road
Kent DA6 7HJ
telephone 020 8304 0775
For more information visit: www.bexley.gov.uk/services/licensing-and-permits/licensing
Council Commercial Property
The Council's Property Services Division is responsible for sales and rentals of all surplus Council commercial property