London is the business capital of Europe, but while the city has a host of entrepreneurial opportunities, competition is tough. The start-up scene in London is growing and growing, with thousands of new companies registered in the past couple of years. In 2015, a record number of aspiring entrepreneurs started businesses in the UK. This is all great news for British business – but success doesn’t happen overnight.

Starting a business anywhere is a daunting task, but in the capital it can also be overwhelmingly expensive. You’ll have to take some risks, but also know when a venture is too risky. If you’re thinking of setting up on your own, here’s a few tips from a London SME.

Image of LondonGet a business mentor

There is a lot to learn in the corporate world, so it’s almost impossible to set up a business without guidance. You need a mentor, someone you can learn from and who can stop you from making some of the mistakes they did. This could be somebody you already know in the industry, although obviously not a competitor. You can sign up to government organisations or use other resources such as London Small Business Centre, which can set you up with a mentor.

Explore different locations

London is a huge place, with thousands of inhabitants and home to thousands of businesses. With such a diverse landscape, it’s really important you choose the right location for your business. One corner of London is completely different to another suburb, so make sure you choose somewhere where you see your business thriving.

Network

Even in this digital world we live in, so much marketing and publicity is done face to face. It’s still about who you know, as well as what you know. Attend as many networking events you can that are relevant to you, in order to get your business name out there.Image of a networking event

Choose your collaborators

Most businesses cannot fully operate without a bit of help from other businesses. For example, you could need a legal team to draw up your contracts, and an IT support company to set up the internet networks in your office. You could need suppliers, or may need to hire a web designer to launch your online presence. Choose your first collaborators well, as they could be the key to success.

Look at Finance Options

It’s pretty impossible to start a flourishing business without some finance. Entrepreneurs can apply for business loans from a number of providers, but there could also be some grants that they are eligible for. Check out what’s available from the local council, the government and other funders – depending on the sector you’re working in, you could find yourself with a free chunk of cash to get started.

If you’re thinking of joining London’s start-up revolution, good luck!