Business Advice

    Advice to Business and Community

    Whether you are starting a business or you have been running a business for 10 years, chances are you will need some help on specific issues or general issues.

    We are here to help local business with all its support and development needs. We have a wide range of services at our disposal provided by a large number of organisations, including the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, Staffordshire Learning & Skills Council and many more.

    We receive government funding and private sponsorship to provide certain services free of charge, such as guidance on starting a business, and we access subsidies wherever we can, making it possible for small and medium sized enterprises to benefit from advice and assistance that will improve their growth prospects.

    We aim to give assistance on most aspects of business. In addition to online information resources, there are specialist advisers who will deal with your needs on an individual basis. This could be something specific, such as an aspect of employment law, or something more general, such as how to increase profits over the next 3 years.

    More advice can be obtained by contacting the Government's business support helpline

    Starting a New Business

    Thinking of starting a business

    One of the major obstacles in the decision to set up a small business and become self-employed is a fear of the hurdles and the regulations associated with 'going it alone', as well as a worry about the viability of the venture. These need not be something to be concerned about if they are tackled in an organised way and if advice and guidance is sought from people who are experienced and trained to help.

    Stafford Enterprise our local Enterprise Agency has help and guidance for a new business start-up. Because it is funded by government and private sponsorship it is provided at no-cost to the budding entrepreneur. The objective of the Agency is to encourage the creation of new businesses and to make sure these new businesses prosper and grow.

    The Agency Advisers are qualified and are members of the Institute of Business Advisers. They are knowledgeable in what needs to done to make the experience of starting a new business enjoyable and rewarding.

    You can find your nearest Enterprise Agency on the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies website.

    The Council is also committed to providing a wide range of services to local businesses and the community at large. The Council's Economic Development Unit plays a key role in encouraging investment in the area. The Unit is also working to increase the quality and variety of work skills offered to residents, helping them to make the most of new employment and training opportunities as they are created.

    Where can I find business opportunities within the area?

    To look for businesses for sale in the area you can look in the local press, or visit some of the many websites that deal with the sale of businesses. A small selection are below.

    Available business premises

    Through the 'Make it Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire' web site you can access a list of all available business premises in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire; just simply register and put in your search requirements.


    There are around 600 businesses in the UK that are franchised but what is franchising and would it be suitable for you?

    It's a way of setting up in business for yourself but not on your own. With a franchise you run the business, but using methods that have been already tried and tested by another company, called the franchisor.

    It is a way of being your own boss without many of the risk factors. However, you are ultimately answerable to the franchisor and this approach may not be for some people.

    There are a number of websites that deal with selling franchises including

    Are there any courses that I may find useful?

    Learndirect run a number of courses that may be useful to you including IT courses such as word processing, databases and spreadsheets. They also run essential business and management skills courses covering finance, marketing, personnel and health and safety. There are a number of Learndirect centres throughout the region.

    For more information about Learndirect visit the website at

    Further Information is also available on 01785 257057.

    What taxes will I have to pay?

    The Inland Revenue have put information on their website especially for people starting up their own business.

    There is also a help line run by the Inland Revenue for newly self employed people. Telephone number 0845 9154 515, which is open from 8am - 8pm.

    Do I need planning permission?

    Planning holds a balance between the need for new development and the need to protect the environment and tries to ensure all development is environmentally sustainable. Construction methods also need to comply with the Building Regulations for which there is a separate set of approvals. More information can be found on the Building Control page.

    Working from home

    You do not usually need planning permission just to work from home but sometimes you do.

    The key test is whether the residence has changed because of the business. If the answer to any of the following questions is 'yes', then you will probably need permission:

    • Is your house no longer chiefly a private residence?
    • Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic, people calling or working around the house or in out buildings?
    • Will your business involve obvious activities not usual in a residential street?
    • Will your business disturb your neighbours because of noise or smells?

    Basically you need to ask yourself if the house is still mainly a home or has it become business premises? This is whatever the business, including using a room as an office, hairdressing, repairing cars, storing goods, using part of the house as a bedsit, running a 'bed and breakfast', providing childminding or music teaching.

    Do I need a licence?

    Many businesses require a licence eg. hairdressers, pet shops and places of public entertainment. For appropriate advice and guidance covering all aspects of trading, licensing and public health legislation contact Stafford Borough Council on 01785 619412.

    What standards do I need to abide by?

    Trading Standards and Consumer Services is a strategic Local Authority service contributing to the well-being of the local and business community through its enforcement activities and advisory services.

    The Trading Standards division will give talks to any business, consumer group, school or any other organisation on the work carried out by the Trading Standards service in the following areas:

    • Weights and Measures
    • Food Labelling
    • Product and Toy Safety
    • Home Safety
    • Credit, Borrowing and Lending
    • General Work of the Trading Standards

    Other subject areas that are not listed can be arranged on request.

    More information can be found on the Trading Standards Advice to Business page.

    Will I need to pay business rates?

    For information on business rates use the following links:

    How do I recruit staff?

    The Council is committed to attracting new jobs to the area and works in partnership with other agencies to ensure residents benefit from employment opportunities created. For more information visit the employment and training initiatives webpage.

    Your local job centre will advise you on recruiting staff and will advertise positions in the local centres free of charge. For more information, advice and to find your local job centre look at the website

    You can also contact the local employment agencies to help recruit permanent or temporary staff although there will be a charge for this.

    You can also advertise in the local press.

    What is e-business?

    E-business relates to businesses utilising new information and communication technologies such as e-mail, the world wide web and e-commerce.

    The following are e-business projects/services on offer in the area use the contact details at top of this page.

    Complying with environmental legislation

    Free environmental guidance for small and medium-size businesses is provided by NetRegs. NetRegs is a partnership between the UK environmental regulators - the Environment Agency in England and Wales, SEPA in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).  Further guidance can be obtained from


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