Business support and advice
Information about starting up and running a business in the UK.
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Local business support organisations
BEST Growth Hub
The Business Essex, Southend and Thurrock Growth Hub service (BEST), which covers Greater Essex, temporarily closed on 1 April 2023.
We are currently in the process of preparing alternative delivery arrangements, and the service will resume as soon as possible. In the meantime, we encourage you to seek alternative support from the GOV.UK Business Support Helpline, Innovate UK EDGE, or your local authority.
Business Support Helpline
The free to access Business Support Helpline can help small businesses of all stages to find the right support and impartial advice, whether just starting out or growing a business.
Advisers provide tailored guidance and information on schemes and publicly funded business support programmes available in your local area and across England. The service is available via telephone, email, webchat and social media.
Essex Federation of Small Businesses
The Federation of Small Businesses is non-profit making and non-party political and is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms. Epping Forest is further represented by the South West Essex branch of the FSB.
Harlow Enterprise Hub
Harlow Enterprise Hub provides a modern, supportive working environment for new and existing businesses. Tenants also have access to sound, impartial business advice and business support services as part of their tenancy agreement.
Let’s Do Business Start Up
The Let’s Do Business (South East) Group Limited is a Social Enterprise helping businesses to start-up and grow throughout the South East of England. It offers services such as finance and support for businesses starting out, training courses, advice and support as well as exhibitions providing an opportunity for small businesses to showcase products.
Love Local Essex
Essex County Council have relaunched the Love Local campaign to help raise awareness of the brilliant local businesses across the county. Join the campaign and help us highlight Essex’s thriving SME sector and celebrate independent businesses.
The Ongar Business Centre (OBC)
Let’s Do Business Group also operates and manages the Ongar Business Centre. The centre offers a stimulating, supportive and managed working environment for Essex businesses. They offer business workspaces from 14 to 57 sqm, and full-day or half-day meeting room hire for SME’s, start-ups, entrepreneurs.
Tenants and virtual tenants at OBC benefit from a full range of business support services including expert advice, funding, finance and access to academic and commercial contacts. If you would like to find about available space at Ongar Business Centre, please follow this link.
National business support organisations
GOV.UK – Business and self-employed
This page has dedicated information on starting a business as well as on exporting goods and services. It also provides information on government policy that may affect businesses.
GOV.UK – Self-employment
Information on what you need to do for tax and national insurance purposes when you start up a business as a self-employed person, a partnership or a limited company.
GOV.UK – Setting up
GOV.UK is the Government’s online resource for businesses. What you need to do to set up depends on your type of business, where you work and whether you take people on to help.
Department for International Trade
If you are a company based in Essex and interested or involved in exporting goods and services, the best organisation to contact is Department for International Trade (DIT) East. DIT East exists to support companies in the East of England that want to trade and invest overseas.
The Prince’s Trust
If you are interested in setting up your own business and you are aged from 18 to 30, unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a week, the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme can help you decide whether self-employment is right for you.
- Entrepreneur Handbook – Learn everything you need to know to build a successful business.
- SmallBusiness.co.uk – Expert knowledge and support.