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Start Your Own Business in Edinburgh

Free start-up resources and useful local contacts.


If you are thinking about starting a business in Edinburgh or would like to grow your existing business, you have come to the right place!

Start Your Own Business in Edinburgh contains resources and the information that will help give your venture the best chance of success. It also highlights organisations who offer friendly business advice and services that you need.

We have been helping start-ups and existing business owners in Edinburgh since 2005 and a list of key local contacts can be found below.

Starting a business in Edinburgh

Popular resources

There is plenty of help locally but where can it be found? We would love to point you in the right direction.

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in Edinburgh

Download the 2021 edition of our Free Start Your Own Business guide

An interactive step-by-step guide which also includes links to key contacts such as HMRC, Companies House etc.

Start Your Own Business in 2021
Read more about what our Free guide contains and how you can download it.

What do you get in the guide?

Packed with the information that you need to start or grow a business in Edinburgh.


Easy to follow step by step guide

Business set-up

Choosing the right structure

Getting online

Online marketing, social media

Local support

Where to find help and support


Work from home or premises?

Employing staff

How to find and recruit

Before you start

The reality of running a business

Finance & funding

Your funding options

Law & insurance

The key considerations

Business planning

Are you ready?

Accountancy & tax

Tax and VAT explained

Business directory

Useful contacts

Market research

Is there a gap in the market?

Business networking

Tips and local groups

Starting a business in Edinburgh
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Key Contacts in Edinburgh

Find Business Support in Scotland
We're here to help you find the business support you need. We have gathered together information and support for all company sizes and sectors across Scotland. What is This service was established to help Scottish businesses find the public sector support they need. Information is available for businesses of all sizes – from those thinking about starting a business to large, well established companies. This website is supported by an enquiries and referral service. You can contact us by submitting an enquiry or calling 0300 303 0660. Our lines are open from 8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Landline calls cost up to 10 pence per minute, mobile costs can vary from 3 pence per minute to 40 pence per minute depending on your operating provider (source: Why was this website created? This site intends to help Scottish businesses find the right information, advice and support at the right time. We will continue to add information and develop and the referral service. We aim to provide all businesses with quick and easy access to all business support services provided by public sector organisations in Scotland. Who runs This is a partnership service. It started as a collaboration between Business Gateway, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland. We will eventually include all organisations who receive public funding in Scotland. We currently include services from the following partners.
The National Library of Scotland
The National Library of Scotland is one of a number of organisations that are here to help you with your business. We can: Guide you through the COBRA resource. COBRA stands for Complete Business Reference Advisor, and it is an excellent way to find out the basics about running a business. You can even use this resource at home if you register with us, which is free to do and just takes a few minutes Introduce you to our other business information resources and explain what each one can offer, from company data and market size, to market research and trends analysis Guide you towards a very large collection of books and articles all about running a business, marketing and management, and innovation and entrepreneurship. Get in touch by emailing to find out more.
Creative Edinburgh
Creative Edinburgh unites creative thinkers across the city. Through events, career support and advocacy, we bring together and help grow the city’s creative community, providing a space for creation, collaboration and connection at every stage of your career. Their website contains a really useful page dedicated to the support that is available in Edinburgh for creatives. Creative Edinburgh Ltd c/o CodeBase 37a Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EL
Digital Ethos
Our digital marketing agency is an extension of your internal marketing team, bringing you and your business digital strategy, expertise and results to the areas you need most. If your brand needs to drive business growth, increase conversion rates, generate leads or boost sales, visibility and engagement, Digital Ethos have the perfect solution for you.   Every company needs that little boost ahead of the competition, and a carefully devised Search Engine Optimisation or SEO strategy could be the answer. SEO is a way of improving your website so it appears higher in Google’s search results. It works for other search engines too, like Bing. Our SEO team will carefully devise a strategy that increases your search visibility where it matters and keep you up to date with the latest Google changes. SEO packages vary, but we focus on four aspects to ensure we’re steering your site in the right direction The team at Digital Ethos is a big believer in that people don’t just buy what you do, they buy why you do it. That is why we take a custom approach to each and every client and really get to know your business and your core values and vision in order to craft tailored strategies and campaigns that meet your unique business goals and objectives. Digital Ethos helps businesses in Derby get more organic traffic from search engines
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
The Edinburgh Chamber, Scotland’s Capital City Chamber of Commerce, is an independent membership organisation which supports the business community in Edinburgh to grow and achieve success. Supporting over 1,000 organisations who employ more than 120,000 staff, we facilitate hundreds of connections every year and offer our members a range of practical services and benefits. In addition to hosting over 120 B2B events each year, the Edinburgh Chamber offers members a range of marketing opportunities, access to our exclusive Member Directory, discounted business training courses and support with internationalisation. We are advocates for our members; representing their interests to key stakeholders and influencers in the city and further afield. Unlike many other membership organisations – we’re proud to support businesses of all sizes, in all sectors. Diversity and inclusivity are very important to us and we strive to deliver membership packages which are accessible, valuable and relevant to organisations from across the city. Chamber Business Centre, 2nd floor, 40 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LE
Building a thriving business community in a great location We are an award-winning independent Local Enterprise organisation, developing businesses and skills for people in the south east Edinburgh. With a range of commercial property units and a uniquely supportive approach, Create attracts a wide variety of entrepreneurs, including online retailers, food set ups and tech companies, boosting the local economy and creating a vibrant business hub. With easy access to East Lothian, Midlothian and Edinburgh itself we also offer practical programmes advising businesses and individuals. Our team are experienced, super-friendly and work closely with all our clients. With 65 flexible and affordable property units both large and small, our tenants range from sole traders to national companies. FOR ADVICE, HELP & SUPPORT Call: 0131 661 8888 Email: Units 1-3 Castlebrae Business Centre Peffer Place Edinburgh EH16 4BB
Bute Enterprise Finance Fund
Bute Enterprise Finance Fund is a charity funded company which provides loans to businesses and organisations in Bute, Argyll, South and North Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire. Finance £10k-£200k is available with flexible repayment terms up to 10yrs. Specific emphasis is placed on businesses that will assist economic regeneration or generate and sustain employment. We can also help borrowers access other types of finance such as government funded start up loans, advise on business plans and support the growth of your business.
City of Edinburgh - Support for Business
Information on Support for business Edinburgh's Employer Recruitment Incentive (EERI) On-street advertising structures Support for business Locate your business in Edinburgh Business continuity Loans for businesses in Edinburgh Edinburgh's responsible business framework Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
Business Gateway Edinburgh
There are many ways we can help you, even if starting up still seems a way off. Our website is a great place to begin: we offer a business plan guide to download when you’re ready, market reports as well as handy online guides and articles, video tutorials and podcasts. Take part in our webinars to hone your start-up skills – from how to handle the legal requirements to getting your market research right. Plus use our Planning to Start tool to guide you through the essential steps of starting up. It takes just 10 minutes to complete and then we can then use the details you give us to create your action plan, complete with links to relevant information and support. We’ll also recommend free webinars to help you hone your skills and may refer you to relevant support from our partners. A business adviser from your local office will also get in touch to see how else we can help at this stage and signpost you to a wide range of other support across Scotland. With our help, you could be in business sooner than you imagined. Business Gateway Edinburgh Waverley Court 4 East Market Street Edinburgh EH8 8BG Tel: 0131 516 6937 Opening hours: Monday to Thursday: 08.30 - 17:00; Friday: 08.30 - 16:00
Franchise Supermarket - Edinburgh
Starting a business in Edinburgh For those looking to start a new business in Scotland then this article will explain just why you have made a great decision by setting up your franchise in Scotland’s capital. Franchising is a flourishing industry boasting nearly 1,000 brands in a host of different sectors. The industry consistently shows 90% of franchisees reporting profitability. The advantages of owning your own business are obvious but so too are the risks. The franchisee is taking less of a risk than starting his or her own business and less than 4% of franchises fail for commercial reasons.
City of Edinburgh Council
Support for business Get free advice and support from Business Gateway to help you start or run a business in Edinburgh. Business Gateway runs free events to help you learn new skills For social enterprises Edinburgh is home to many social enterprises. Our Enabling Enterprise Strategy explains how we will help them grow. Contact is for help and advice to new and existing social enterprises. Business Gateway can give you free advice and support to help you start or run a social enterprise. Just Enterprise provides a range of useful support to the enterprising third sector Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network provides news and support to local social enterprises. For young people aged 18 to 30 - apart from Business Gateway, Prince's Trust Youth Business Scotland can advice and support you to start or grow a business. They provide grants of up to £1,000 and loans of up to £30,000. Business Gateway local office Telephone: 0131 529 6644 Email:
Starting a business: first steps has a section dedicated to starting a business which talks you through the first steps, stage by stage.
(+) - Starting a Business
Information on business planning, registering a company and starting a new business. Setting up - Find information on setting up a business in Scotland. Tax and registering - Find information about registering your business with HM Revenue & Customs and Companies House. Marketing your business - Information on marketing and sales for your business. Intellectual property - Find out what intellectual property is and how to protect it in the UK and abroad. Further help to start a business - Information on organisations or services that can help you start a business or help your staff learn new skills.
Where to get small business support in Edinburgh
hen setting up a small business, it can be hard to know where to look for help. Even if you’ve been running your small business for years, it’s always handy to know where you can find resources for networking, training, funding and development. So lets have a look at small business support in Edinburgh! Some of these resources have been invaluable for both me and my clients. If you’re a small business in Edinburgh, check out these local organisations to give your business a boost.
Edinburgh Social Enterprise
Business advice and services including startup. Business Gateway Business Gateway Edinburgh’s experienced business advisors provide free advice and information to help you start a business or find new ways of doing business. They additionally offer local workshops and seminars covering topics such as marketing, finance and e-commerce. Firstport Firstport are based in Edinburgh and provide one-to-one advice with experienced business advisors and offer resources such as cash flow templates and legal guides. UnLtd UnLtd operate UK-wide and offer support via provision of helpful resources, publications and webinars, and a number of thematic competitive awards programmes through which successful applicants can access tailored support. Community Enterprise Community Enterprise offer business, community and organisational support: from business plans, evaluation and feasibility studies to community consultations and action plans. They also do brand development and marketing strategies. Freshsight Ltd FreshSight provides 8-week consultations where teams of highly talented, thoughtful and creative students devise innovative business solutions based on the client's needs. Through empowerment, collaboration, innovation and social entrepreneurship FreshSight co-creates positive social impact, both now and in the longer term.
Startups - Starting a business in Edinburgh
Scotland’s capital and a thriving centre for science, tech and fast-growth start-ups, Edinburgh takes the top spot in the Start-up Cities Index 2017 Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh is home to some of the country’s leading science parks and research centres as well as a cluster of fast-growth businesses and emerging start-ups such as accounting provider FreeAgent, travel booking platform Skyscanner, sports platform FanDuel, and countless more. Combined with its growing business community and vast number of start-up premises, Edinburgh also offers a good central point for travel and commutes to client meetings. Scotland’s main airport Edinburgh International has 40 airlines travelling to 100 destinations, and Edinburgh is less than one hour’s drive away from the next largest city, and thriving start-up cluster; Glasgow.
Start Up Loans Scotland
Start Up Loans assign all applicants to one of our Delivery Partners and, where possible, match you with a Delivery Partner who operates in your local area. The link is to a page which lists their partners in Scotland. Please note, to ensure they can effectively support you, you will only be able to work with one Delivery Partner and you will not be able to change this once you have submitted your application.
Government-backed start up loans
Government-backed start up loans are available to help people who want to start or grow a business that is less than 24 months old. The UK Government has already helped over 3,700 companies in Scotland with start up loans. The UK Government has already helped businesses in Scotland with more than £30 million in start up loans. Start up loans are a great opportunity for individuals in need of a personal loan for business purposes to fund their new business. In addition to the loan you can also receive free business support and mentoring to help with starting and growing your business.
Midlothian & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce
We are the voice of East Lothian and Midlothian businesses - representing both SMEs and larger corporate organisations. No matter your size or the type of business you are, MELCC can support you at every stage of your business - be it start-up, established, expanding or high growth. Our mission is to offer the network, advice and solutions you need to succeed. Membership means you're not alone. Moulsdale House, Edinburgh College, 24d Milton Road East, Edinburgh, EH15 2PP
Business Gateway
Starting a business - you may be planning to start a business or perhaps you’ve already begun. Find advice on the essentials, from writing a business plan to intellectual property on the Business Gateway website. It has a section dedicated to business start-up and this includes the opportunity to download your business plan template and guidance on: starting up a business, business support and advice, forming a company or business, intellectual property, naming a business, buying a business or franchise, Create business plan.
AD Office Management
"Do you need help with your Office Administration, Bookkeeping and/or HR? Whether you are a sole trader, partnership or a company I can help". ​With over 30 years’ experience as a confidential PA with excellent Office Management skills. Work produced is of a high standard, with a positive attitude and flexible approach you can be assured of your requirements being met. ​With this work experience, I can offer you a bespoke virtual management service using my own initiative. ​Benefits of using Virtual P.A./Bookkeepers – ​Contracting a virtual bookkeeper can profit your business in several ways, including: ​ Cost savings: Since a virtual P.A./Bookkeeper isn't, in fact, a representative of your organization, you aren't required to cover finance charges, give them a work-space, or offer advantages like healthcare etc. Better yet, you only pay them for the hours they work, whereas a full-time P.A./bookkeeper can cost you a substantial amount per month, plus the cost of benefits/perks. ​Error decrease: Even if you’re skilled at bookkeeping, you probably don’t have time to ensure that all accounting tasks are performed correctly. Since some small businesses fail due to cash flow issues, neglecting day-to-day accounting responsibilities can have serious consequences. Hiring a P.A./Bookkeeper to focus explicitly on routine accounting tasks can reduce unintentional errors due to multitasking. More opportunity to do what you excel at: With everyday money related administration expelled from your plan for the day, you can focus on the things that make your business a success — and utilize those aptitudes to develop your organization
Scottish Enterprise - Starting a Business?
Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's national economic development agency and a non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government. To deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy, we work with partners in the public and private sectors to find and exploit the best opportunities. We support thousands of companies the length and breadth of Scotland, helping catalyse the changes in our economy that will have a long-term positive impact on Scotland's business competitiveness around the world. In doing so, we're creating significantly more, better jobs, helping people fulfil their potential. Starting a business? It can be both exhilarating and challenging getting your business off the ground. Having the confidence to take that next step is often all that’s needed. Access funding, a free business plan template, and guidance on legal requirements.
Help for Start-Ups - Business Gateway
If you run a start-up business as an entrepreneur, there is a variety of help for start-ups available, and there may be extra support you can access if you come under certain categories. Much of this help takes the form of mentoring and networking - but you should also be able to access targeted advice, support and even apply for loans and grants. This guide will help explain about the sources of funding that might be available to you and where to get help, advice and training.
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
Edinburgh Chamber is primarily a membership organisation supporting businesses of all sectors and scale wishing to engage in business in Edinburgh. We support members through a variety of membership benefits and also a range of activities such as Events, Training & Development, Mentoring, International Trade and Business advice. Address: Business Centre, 40 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LE, EH3 9SU
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Start-up Steps

We have created a collection of start-up steps articles to help anyone with whatever stage they are on with their business journey. Hundreds of thousands of people have gone before you and we can learn from what they got right and avoid the things that have been proved not to work so well.

You can see the full list of 'steps' at: Startup Steps