5 Business Ideas to Start in Manchester and How to Fund Them

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

The city of Manchester has been synonymous with industry for decades. Its symbol, the noble worker bee, is representative of the city’s work ethic, its industrious heritage and its sense of unity. Manchester was actually the world’s first industrial city. And while its economy has moved beyond cotton and Boddingtons bitter, it remains one of the nation’s most business-friendly cities, ranking third among other large European cities.

If you want to start a business in Manchester, it’s essential that you are attuned to the unique opportunities that the city affords as well as its rich sense of culture and heritage. Here, we’ll look at 5 of the best new business ideas in Manchester, as well as how they may be funded with grants, loans, and other assistance that are specific to the Greater Manchester area.

Top 5 Manchester business ideas

There are many sectors that may prove fertile ground for a new business start-up in Manchester. Even in the current economic climate, there are several areas in which the city of Manchester boasts growth that exceeds the national average. As Ben Davies, director of Praetura – a funder that exclusively invests in Manchester companies, told Business Leader “I’m not joking when I say that Manchester is the capital of England because London is another country. Stability has been key to its growth and Manchester had the same chief executive and leader of the Council for 20 years. This is unheard of and unprecedented”.

With that in mind, take a look at these 5 potentially profitable business ideas in Manchester.

Join Manchester’s thriving tech sector

Manchester is arguably the biggest tech hub in England outside of London. The city has a £5billion tech ecosystem with 10,000 digital and tech businesses. The growth rate of Manchester’s tech industry is currently six times the rate of the UK economy, with roughly a fifth of Manchester’s population working in the tech sector.

A combination of imagination, coding skill and engineering know-how could help you to forge a bright new star in the city’s tech galaxy.

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Start a microbrewery

The iconic Boddington’s brewery may have been relocated, but Mancunians still love their beer. Manchester is home to around 140 commercial breweries, and there is always room on the map for an intriguing locally-brewed new beer. Despite the bottleneck (pun intended) from duty prices, the profit margins on beer are fairly healthy (typically around 17-18% on average). If you can obtain the necessary equipment and licences, this could be a highly rewarding and enjoyable business venture.

Add a new spot on Manchester’s cafe culture map with a social enterprise cafe

From the canalside artisan bakeries of Ancoats to the trendy cafe bars of the Northern Quarter and the chic, quirky coffee shops of Chorlton and Didsbury, Manchester has a bustling cafe culture. But if you want to run a business that does good for the community as well as makes money, why not open a social enterprise cafe?

Social enterprise cafes have all the delicious coffee and tasty treats you’d expect from a regular cafe but work to empower people who have been excluded from work opportunities due to learning difficulties, struggles with substance abuse, homelessness or criminal records in their past.

A social enterprise cafe adds to Manchester’s vibrant cafe culture scene while also creating life-changing opportunities within the community. If you’re looking for business ideas in Manchester with heart, look no further.

Open a tattoo parlour

Those with a passion for the beauty industry who are also artistically inclined may wish to turn their attention to body art.

A sharp spike in demand has given rise to a proliferation of new tattoo parlours in recent years, with many skilled tattoo artists opening their own parlours (mostly in the oh-so-trendy Northern Quarter). There are a number of tattoo academies in and around Manchester that can give nascent body artists the skills and experience they need to excel in the field. Experienced artists can earn upwards of £60,000 per year inking bodies around the city.

Join the city’s flourishing arts scene

The move of the BBC from London to Salford Quays in 2011 cemented Manchester’s reputation as one of the UK’s most prominent cities in media and the arts. There are many ways in which aspiring business owners can cater to this demand, from setting up an e-commerce store with art supplies to turning your bar or restaurant into a performance venue like the historic pub-cum-theatre, Salford’s King’s Arms. There are also a number of acting academies in Manchester where aspiring thespians learn their trade from working stage and screen.

Wherever your talents may lie and whatever your budget, there may just be an opportunity for you in the arts sector.

Manchester business grants, loans and assistance

The overheads that come with starting a new business can be daunting. Fortunately, there are a number of small business grants in Manchester that can help to ameliorate these costs. There are many funding options available to business owners. These include business loans, grant assistance, and combinations of both.

Build a Business Greater Manchester

Build a Business is perhaps the best-known business grant in Manchester. It is operated by Manchester City Council and part-funded by the European Union. It runs from January 2021 to June 2023, so there is still time for aspiring business owners in Manchester to apply.

Northern Impact Fund

The Northern Impact Fund is operated by The Key Fund, an organisation that specialises in growing enterprise within communities. It provides loans of between £5,000 and £150,000 as well as flexible grant and loan packages.

GM Social Investment

For those thinking of starting up a social enterprise, GM social investment is a business start-up grant in Manchester to consider. It provides an investment of £10,000-£50,000 to support any social enterprise in Greater Manchester that benefits its community. This takes the form of a combination of loan and grant assistance. It also provides referrals to the REACH Fund, which offers further grant assistance of up to £15,000 for social enterprises.

First Ark Social Investment

Another Manchester grant for small businesses, First Ark Social Investment provides grant and loan funding for all kinds of social enterprises and non-profit organisations in Greater Manchester. They also provide support for applicants both pre-application and post-investment. Investment can range from £50,000 to £150,000, up to 30% of which is grant funded.

Praetura Group Business Loans

There are many providers of small business loans in Greater Manchester. However, what sets Praetura apart is that it exclusively provides business funding to businesses in and around Manchester. Therefore, they have unique insights into the local economy that could be as valuable to business owners as the funding they provide.

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