SumUp reveals the best UK cities and industries to start your own business

Starting a business is a dream for many people in the UK, however, the risk and possibility of failure prevents them from trying to pursue it. So, which cities offer the most business opportunity and the highest chance of success? It would be valuable to know which these are.

What are the 10 best UK cities to start a business?

Rank City Index Score
1 Edinburgh 7.78
2 Bristol 7.12
3 Glasgow 6.99
4 Birmingham 6.74
5 Norwich 6.61
6 Manchester 6.57
7 Leeds 6.32
8 Aberdeen 6.02
9 Sheffield 6.00
10 Plymouth 5.92

What are the other key findings of the SumUp study?

  • Carpet cleaners are the most in-demand business across the UK with an index score of 6.50

  • Beauty Salons are the second most in-demand business in the UK and are most likely to succeed in the city of Manchester.

  • Edinburgh is the best UK city to start a business with an overall index score of 7.78, and the most in-demand business here is a bakery.

  • The second best place in the UK to start a business is Bristol, and this UK city has the biggest demand for hairdressers.

When setting up a new business, it’s important to have a clear understanding of consumer demand and the level of competition within your chosen niche and local area. To help budding entrepreneurs understand which local businesses are the most in-demand across the UK, SumUp has analysed thousands of data points from the local business environment. This was done to find out the level of demand and competition across 25 different business niches.

SumUp determined consumer demand by analysing Google search volume for terms like ‘bakeries near me’ and business supply by researching the number of each business type registered in every UK city. The overall best places to start a business were determined by analysing cities with the lowest level of business supply vs highest level of consumer demand.

What is the best UK city to open a small business?

SumUp’s study revealed Edinburgh as the best city in the UK to start a small business. This Scottish city had the highest demand and lowest supply across all niches, receiving an overall score of 7.78. The best business to open in Edinburgh is a bakery, with 9,000 average monthly searches for ‘Bakeries near me’ but just 36 businesses to cater to them. Bristol follows Edinburgh as second best city to start a small business in the UK, and Glasgow places third.

The table below shows the top five UK cities to open a business based on demand vs. supply:



Local Supply vs Demand Score
















What are the most in-demand local businesses in the UK?

While bakeries are the top niche in Edinburgh, the UK’s most in-demand local business overall actually sits within the niche of carpet cleaning. Ranking with a high supply vs. demand index score of 6.50, the odds could be stacked in the favour of those who choose to enter the carpet cleaning market. Beauty salons rank as second most in-demand business niche with an overall supply vs demand index score of 6.33, followed by event planners with an index score of 6.15.

The full top five most in-demand local businesses across the UK are shown in the table below:



Score: Overall Supply vs Demand Index in the UK


Carpet cleaning



Beauty salon



Event planner



Cleaning business





Though beauty entrepreneurs will find plenty of demand for their services across the UK because if the nature of their services, there is one city where their business is more likely to flourish. In Manchester, there are just 93 beauty salons despite 720 monthly searches for ‘Beauty salon near me’, meaning that the demand for this type of business is very high.

How can one achieve success in the business space?

Whilst the niche entrepreneurs’ choices for their new business does have a bearing on their chances of success, there are also many other important factors to consider. To ensure tangible success when setting up a new business, SumUp suggests taking the following steps:

  • Put together a detailed business plan, which will help you get prepared and prove useful when approaching investors.

  • Figure out how much money you need to set up your new business and secure funding.

  • Complete any legal admin, such as getting registered with HMRC and taking out Employers’ Liability insurance.

  • Market and brand your business to appeal to your target market and stand out from the competition.

  • Ensure you have the right tools and technology for your business to run smoothly such as a card reader that will enable you to accept cashless payments for your small business on your terms.


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