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Your business type and needs will determine where you set up shop. But how do you scout out that perfect spot?

Where is the best place to establish your new business? And what are you getting into when you commit to a particular location?

The optimum location for your business will depend on the type and size of business you’re running. Working from home may be a viable option for some business owners, but others will require commercial premises. Maybe you need to rent space on an ad hoc basis or perhaps a virtual office would suit your requirements?

Starting at Home

For some types of businesses, the best option is to run your start-up from home. However, there are a number of factors to consider before doing so.

Apart from issues of isolation and disturbing your work/life balance, working from home has other practical consequences. It could affect your home insurance, mortgage and tax situation and you may also be required to obtain specific permissions and licenses.

It’s a good idea to check with some of the agencies listed below before setting up at home:

  • The Environmental Health team within Ards and North Down Borough Council or the Health & Safety Executive NI.
  • The Planning team within Ards and North Down Borough Council to check if planning permission is needed.
  • A solicitor to check legal aspects.
  • Your mortgage lender or landlord.
  • Insurance provider.
  • Land and Property Services to see if business rates will apply.
  • HM Revenue & Customs and an accountant to understand you income and tax position.

Visit NI Business Info for a comprehensive guide on setting up at home. Alternatively email Sharyn McMaster, Assistant Economic Development Offer or call 028 9147 3788 (ext 40960).

Commercial Premises Finder

If you are considering setting up in commercial premises, draw up a 'property spec' sheet and list all the features you are looking for. Note which aspects of the spec are essential, and which are just desirable. A good specification sheet will stop you wasting time looking at premises which are non-starters. Find out about local commercial premises online with Property Pal, Property News and Invest NI.

Room Hire

Do you need a professional environment in which to host occasional business meetings? Are you arranging a training session for your staff and want to take them off site?  The Signal Centre is the ideal venue for events such as these, and many others too. Located just 20 minutes from Belfast, the Signal Centre offers high-end conference and meeting room facilities, with state-of-the-art technical and audio visual equipment. Each room is specifically designed to accommodate:

  • Business Meetings
  • Conferences
  • Training
  • Interviews
  • Presentations
  • Seminars
  • Exhibitions
  • Video Conferencing

All three meeting rooms offer versatile space which can be adapted to host meetings or seminars, with accommodation for small groups of 2 – 3 people, or larger events with up to 120. Full catering facilities are available onsite and there is ample complimentary car parking.

For information on room hire visit the Facilities page or contact Nicola Webster-Pickett by email or phone 028 9147 3788 (ext 40958).

Virtual office

At Signal Centre, we recognise the need for small businesses to reduce their costs. To this end we offer two affordable and effective Virtual Office packages. This service has been designed to offer a risk free option for anyone interested in starting a business without incurring the high set up costs. The service has been designed to provide a professional answering and mail receipt service.

Mail address service  

£30.00 (exc.VAT) per month
Benefits include: Business postal address that won’t change
  Mail forwarding service by Postal Sort (postal charges apply)
  Scanned mail
  Minimum one month contract
  Once application is approved, service can be set up and activated within one working day
  Staff always available to accept and sign for mail
  Access to reception services include copying, printing, binding etc (costs apply).
  10% discount on meeting room hire
  Your personal address is kept private

Mail address service allows companies to use Signal Centre’s address for postal delivery & collection


Full virtual office £50.00 (exc. VAT) per month

Benefits include all above plus:

Dedicated telephone number answered locally, with your company greeting. You will receive message notification via email.

  Access to a fax number
  Mentoring with a Business Advisor to assist business growth
  Available on a flexible minimum contract of one month


For information on virtual offices please email Nicola Webster-Pickett or call 028 9147 3788 (ext 40958).


Note: The above services require payment a month in advance. Please note, all businesses applying will be vetted to ensure they are commercially bona fide, have substance and are not used for any unlawful purpose.