What makes doing business on the Isle of Wight different from other parts of the UK?
The Isle of Wight is approximately 150 square miles in size, with a population that hovers around 140,000 people. As a result many bigger UK and international companies ignore the island, seeing the need to catch a ferry to get there and back as potentially problematic. This means local businesses are less likely to have to directly compete with large numbers of other companies. It also means that it’s easier to get to know your competition, and perhaps even work with some of them on projects or campaigns. This kind of collaboration can be beneficial for all involved as it creates a sense of community and solidarity among local businesses.
The Isle of Wight boasts some truly stunning scenery, making it a great place to visit for tourists and locals alike. For businesses, its size and location makes it easy to get around, and straightforward to access mainland markets, and is close enough to London to make a day trip just about possible. This makes it an ideal spot for many types of business – and not just those who only want to sell locally.
However, there are business owners on the Island who still prefer to only work locally, and by that I mean ultra locally. They may have a 5-mile radius for where they will operate, making neighbouring towns out of area. Meetings and networking events more than 10 or 15 minutes away, can be seen as too distant to be relevant. This obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, but it is a noticeable trait.
Local Support System
Business owners on the Isle of Wight have access to plenty of local support systems designed specifically for them. The council has supported the creation of the Go for Growth Business Hub, as well as opening Building 41 in recent weeks. The tourism sector is supported by Visit Isle of Wight, working with local business owners to provide advice and assistance ranging from customer service training to marketing advice.
Through the Business Hub you can access resources such as dedicated business advisors who can help guide you through any issues you may encounter along the way. The Chamber of Commerce is also an excellent source of support, with regular networking events held throughout the year which allow entrepreneurs and professionals alike to connect with each other and share their experiences in running a business in this unique environment. There are also several business associations in local towns, the Island Business network and the Isle of Wight Creative Network. Resources:
Accessing materials, parts, cars, and of course talent, can be more challenging on the Island.Transport on to and off the Island requires it to get over the water, which it is not included in regular delivery rounds by many companies. So you might incur extra costs, high volume constraints or delays (or all three), and for people you have access to a more limited pool of talent. It is possible to commute and dozens of people do, but it is a barrier. And certainly too much of a barrier for lower paid jobs. This has been a big problem for the hospitality and visitor economy sector, particularly post COVID and since Brexit.
Doing business on the Isle of Wight is certainly different than doing so anywhere else in the UK – but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult! With its beautiful scenery, easy access to mainland markets, and wealth of resources available specifically tailored towards entrepreneurs, there are plenty of reasons for optimism when looking to grow your business on the island.
But what do you think – how different is the Isle of Wight and do these differences create challenges or advantages when running a business?