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Why you should build your first business in Wales

Welsh flag (Adobe Stock)

Many entrepreneurs build incredible small businesses by leveraging their unique skills, professions and years of experience, but a major facet of a great small business is in its organisation. It’s not the most exciting quality of a successful enterprise but your ability to organise and plan are the inner workings that make a business tick on a good day and ride the storm on a bad one.

Equally, wherever you choose to do business comes with it a set of regional rules and specifications that you’ll need to know and abide by to avoid breaching any corporate laws. In the UK, and much of Western Europe, the infrastructure to start a business is already clear and well-established, but it’s your job to know the rules you have to play by. Some countries make it easier than others, none more so than Wales.

Wales has, for a while now, been enjoying its business-friendly approach with strong growth in its small business population. In fact, large enterprises only account for approximately 37% of Wales’ employment, compared to 40% in the UK as a whole. Nearest estimates show there are currently 267,000 enterprises active in Wales, employing over 1.2 million people. That figure is at its highest since 2003 and continues to grow. Why exactly? There are many reasons.

Why Wales?

The majority of start-ups, particularly in the technology sector are drawn to major cities like London. That saturation brings with it a very high level of competition and can make life hard for a newcomer. In the past ten years, approximately 80 tech start-ups have received well over 60m in funding from Finance Wales, including £31 million in a single financial year in 2013. It’s a big figure for a country not immediately thought of in the tech sector.

Of course, not every Welsh business is a tech start-up. Many small businesses offer highly specialised skills in construction and manufacturing too, often operating as mobile sole traders. It’s a great way to take control of your earnings and work your chosen hours, doing work you want to do – but it comes with a few key things to remember.

Protecting your business from hardship starts with insurance and it comes in many forms. Personal injury claims, for example, are more common if you’re working in a high-risk industry like construction, working on-site on other people’s premises with hazardous equipment. It’s very wise to understand your rights to some extent in the case of an injury sustained on the job and to also hire a solicitor who specialises in business-related claims. Equally, if you’re premises, vehicles, products and employees will all need to be covered in some way. A popular method to manage insurance is to hire a risk assessment annually to gather a holistic picture of what requires insurance and what risks you’re able to remediate for.

With insurance handled, you’ve got tax to think about, too. Luckily, it’s all uniform in the UK. In Wales, much like the UK, you’ll need to decide whether you want to operate as a Partnership, Limited company, Social enterprise or Sole trader. You’ll also need to register to pay tax through the HMRC, and this is non-negotiable. Your choice of business type will affect the ways you pay tax over a year – again, it’s best to look to outsource this to a professional accountant, particularly if you’re a business of one.

Kinder To The Wallet

With larger, logistical hubs like Cardiff alongside more rural opportunities to purchase premises, Wales is actually a highly cost-effective alternative to the usual choices like the Capital, Birmingham or Manchester. With a wealth of talented graduates from universities like Cardiff and Swansea, small enterprises aren’t starved for talent either, there’s a wealth of choice. If you’re considering starting a business, you can do a lot worse than a region that has connections to major business centres, attractive pricing, a large talent pool, and access to funding to grow your ambitions.

With the foresight and understanding of the legal protections and administrative procedures you need to abide by, you could join the thousands of small businesses that have laid down roots in the picturesque and increasingly popular business centre that Wales has become over the years.