The Pros and Cons of Running a Small Business in Northampton


Key takeaways

The pros

The cons

Hard to recruit


Frequently asked questions

Northampton is the UK’s second largest town after Reading and there is a fair amount of speculation about why it hasn’t yet been given city status. Is it because it sided with the Roundheads in the English civil war and the monarchy is holding a grudge?

Either way this article will shift the focus on to how Northampton provides a unique opportunity to do business and the economic personality of this historic town.

Northampton was recognised by Experian as one of the top locations for starting a new venture in the UK—proof of its business-friendly atmosphere.

Key Takeaways

  • Northampton offers small businesses a strategic central location in the UK, high-speed internet, great mobile phone coverage and a robust local enterprise support system which fosters business growth and connectivity.

  • Despite the welcoming business environment, challenges in Northampton include intense competition, a tightly-knit business community difficult for new entrants to penetrate, and practical logistical issues like traffic and parking.

  • Diverse independent retailers and restaurants, local events, small business rate relief, and a supportive community contribute to a favourable work-life balance and long-term opportunities for scalability, but recruitment can be tough due to high employment rates.

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The Pros

Northampton, widely regarded as the UK’s epicentre, offers a blend of historical charm and modern appeal that is particularly beneficial to small businesses and entrepreneurs. It offers a variety of opportunities where the benefits of being centrally located blend with strong business support services and excellent communication channels, creating an environment that helps businesses grow.

Central Location and Accessibility

Located in the heart of England, Northampton’s central position offers many perks for small business owners. This spot provides easy access to major cities like London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Birmingham. Small business owners can benefit from being close to these economic hubs without the high costs that come with them.

The ease of access to major transport routes like the M1 & M6, combined with a really well connected train station means that every major centre of business in England is only ever a short journey away.

Business Support and Resources

With financial aid available via grants and loans from the Local Enterprise Partnership and West Northamptonshire Council, turning business ideas into reality is much easier. In addition to financial support, these organisations offer a wealth of resources such as business mentoring, workshops, and networking events. These resources help entrepreneurs to not only secure the necessary funding but also to develop the skills and connections needed to sustain and grow their businesses.

The support ecosystem in Northampton is designed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, making it an attractive destination for start-ups and small businesses looking to establish themselves and thrive in a competitive market.

There is also a strong vocal presence for small businesses in the form of the Northampton BID, the Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses. These organisations play a crucial role in advocating for the needs and interests of small business owners, ensuring their voices are heard in local government and policy-making processes.

They offer a platform for business owners to network, share insights, and collaborate on initiatives that drive economic growth and community development.

Additionally, these bodies frequently organise events, workshops, and seminars aimed at equipping small business owners with the latest knowledge and tools to navigate the business landscape effectively. From marketing strategies to financial management, these sessions provide invaluable learning opportunities that help businesses stay competitive and innovative.

Moreover, the Northampton BID, Chamber of Commerce, and Federation of Small Businesses actively work to foster a sense of community among local businesses. By encouraging collaboration over competition, they help create a supportive environment where businesses can thrive together. This community-centric approach not only strengthens individual businesses but also contributes to the overall economic vitality of Northampton.

In summary, the strong vocal presence of these organizations is instrumental in creating a robust support system for small businesses in Northampton, making it an attractive place for entrepreneurs to start and grow their ventures.


In today’s fast-paced business world, quick and clear communication isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s a must. Northampton businesses enjoy excellent broadband speeds and excellent mobile phone coverage, making sure messages get through, whether it’s an international video call or a local marketing push.


The bustling streets of Northampton are alive with a sense of independence that small businesses bring, shaping the town’s unique vibe. Known for its shoe and leather industry and a variety of unique shops, the town is a real showcase of skilled artisans and specialised markets.

Small Business Rates Relief

The town offers affordable premises with low rateable values, alongside plenty of smaller spaces perfect for new businesses looking to keep costs down and profits up. This supportive environment eases the financial burden on small business owners, allowing them to focus on growing their operations.

The relatively low rateable values in the area mean that many small businesses benefit from reduced business rates or avoid them completely. This financial advantage can be critical for start-ups and small enterprises operating on tight budgets. By minimising overhead costs, businesses can allocate more resources towards growth initiatives such as marketing, product development, and customer service.


Known as one of the top places to start a business in the UK, it even surpasses London with 43 new businesses per 10,000 residents. These stats highlight Northampton’s appeal to entrepreneurs and show it as an ideal place for businesses to thrive.

The town’s strategic central location, coupled with its robust support system for small businesses, makes it an attractive destination for budding entrepreneurs. The availability of grants, loans, and business mentoring services further strengthens its position as a business-friendly environment. Additionally, the local community’s supportive nature and the town’s vibrant cultural scene contribute to a high quality of life, which can be a significant factor in attracting and retaining talent. These combined elements create a fertile ground for new ventures to not only start but also grow and prosper in the competitive market.

The Cons

In Northampton, achieving business success comes with its own set of challenges. The town offers many advantages to new entrepreneurs, but it also has unique hurdles that require planning and problem-solving.

Entrepreneurs face the tight-knit local business community, tough competition, and practical issues like traffic and limited parking. Running a business here means paying close attention to details and staying ahead of potential problems.

Hermetical Business Community

Breaking into the business scene in Northampton can sometimes feel like trying to crack a tough nut, especially for newcomers. The town’s well-established networks can create significant barriers, making it necessary for new businesses to heavily invest in marketing and sales to gain market share.

The insular nature of these business communities isn’t unique to Northampton. However, it underscores the importance of building relationships and establishing a strong brand identity. New businesses must be prepared for intensive networking and reputation management efforts—seizing every opportunity to stand out.

Business Competition

Moreover, the high number of businesses vying for customers in Northampton means that competition is tough, especially in certain industries like accounting and transport. This competitive atmosphere can be both a challenge and an opportunity for new businesses. On one hand, it requires innovative strategies, exceptional customer service, and unique value propositions to stand out and attract clientele.

On the other hand, the presence of numerous businesses also indicates a thriving market with high demand, suggesting that there is ample opportunity for those who can navigate the competitive landscape effectively.

Overall, while the intense competition in Northampton can be daunting, it also fosters a dynamic and vibrant business community where innovation and excellence are rewarded. Entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the effort to understand their market and meet the needs of their customers can find significant success in this bustling town.

Parking & Traffic

Running a business in Northampton comes with some practical challenges, especially when it comes to parking and traffic. Finding a parking spot can be a real headache for both business owners and customers, and the strict parking wardens don’t make it any easier. These everyday issues can affect the customer experience and, ultimately, a business’s success.

Compared to other towns like Milton Keynes, traffic in Northampton can feel more hectic, adding extra hassle to daily operations. Businesses need to plan for these issues to keep things running smoothly and ensure a good experience for their customers. Tackling these challenges is key to keeping customers happy and the business running smoothly.

Hard to Recruit

With one of the UK’s highest employment rates at 79%, finding the right talent can be tough. In a town where most people are already employed, the competition for skilled workers is as intense as it is for customers.

The high employment rate is a double-edged sword; it shows a strong local economy but also means businesses have to work harder to attract and keep the right people. With every shop, company, and partnership looking for the best talent, offering an appealing job package and creating a great company culture is crucial.


All things considered, Northampton is a great place for small businesses. Its central location, supportive infrastructure, and independent vibe make it a good spot for entrepreneurs. However, it does have its challenges, like tight-knit business communities, tough competition, and everyday issues like traffic and parking. By tackling these challenges head-on and staying determined, running a business in Northampton can go from being a balancing act to a successful venture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Northampton’s central location advantageous for small businesses?

The central position of Northampton within the UK affords businesses convenient access to prominent urban centres and key transport connections, promoting an environment ripe for diverse business expansion.

Such a strategic position proves beneficial for small enterprises aiming to flourish.

How does Northampton support the growth and development of small businesses?

West Northamptonshire Council contributes to the development of small businesses in Northampton by providing financial support, reliable internet connectivity, and a variety of resources. This encourages business growth and offers entrepreneurs a supportive environment to thrive.

Are there any financial benefits for small businesses starting up in Northampton?

Launching a small business in Northampton can offer financial advantages including Small Business Rates Relief, modest rateable values, and economical smaller premises that enable new businesses to initiate and expand affordably. Such benefits contribute to the cost-efficient establishment and growth of the business.

What are some of the challenges small businesses might face in Northampton?

Small businesses in Northampton may encounter several obstacles including penetrating established business sectors, contending with fierce industry competition, and navigating problems related to parking and traffic.

Is it difficult to recruit talent for small businesses in Northampton?

Indeed, attracting skilled workers to small businesses in Northampton can prove challenging because of the robust employment landscape and intense rivalry for proficient employees within the flourishing job market.

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