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How to Start a Business in Kent

Free start-up resources and useful local contacts.

Improve your chances of success!

How to Start a Business in Kent

Starting a business in Kent

If you are thinking about starting a business in Kent or would like to grow your existing business, we would love to help you.

Start Your Own Business in Kent contains resources and the information that will help give your venture the best chance of success. It also highlights organisations who offer friendly advice and the services that you are likely to need as a new startup or local business owner.

Grants | Networking groups | Business advice | Mentoring | Co-working spaces

Starting a business in Kent

Local help for startups

There is plenty of help for startups in Kent but where can it be found?

Select classification:

If you're considering starting a business or already running one in Kent, this section is designed to provide you with valuable information and resources to support your entrepreneurial journey.

Located in southeastern England, Kent offers a thriving business environment, diverse demographics, and a range of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Demographics of Kent

Kent has a diverse population with a wide range of business potential. As of the latest available data, the estimated population of Kent is over 1.8 million residents. Known as the "Garden of England," Kent boasts beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and a strong agricultural industry. The county offers a dynamic market for various business sectors.

Major Towns and Cities in Kent

Click on name of location to find local help and resources.

  • Canterbury: Canterbury is a historic city in Kent, with a population of over 55,000 residents. It is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canterbury Cathedral, and attracts a significant number of tourists. Canterbury offers business opportunities in tourism, hospitality, and education sectors.
  • Maidstone: Maidstone is the county town of Kent, with a population of over 170,000 residents. It serves as the administrative and business hub of the county. Maidstone offers diverse business opportunities, including retail, professional services, and technology.
  • Tonbridge: Tonbridge is a market town in Kent, with a population of over 40,000 residents. It has a rich history and a vibrant community. Tonbridge presents business prospects in sectors such as manufacturing, engineering, and logistics.
Local Authorities in Kent

Understanding the local authorities in Kent is essential for navigating regulations and accessing relevant services. Here are some key local authorities in Kent along with their website links:

  • Kent County Council : The official website of Kent County Council provides comprehensive information on local government services, including business rates, planning permissions, and economic development initiatives. They offer guidance on starting a business, provide access to grants and funding opportunities, and support business growth in the county.
  • Ashford Borough Council : Ashford Borough Council is responsible for local services in the Ashford area. Their website provides information on business support, planning and development, and licensing.
  • Canterbury City Council : Canterbury City Council oversees local services in the Canterbury district. Their website offers information on business rates, planning applications, and economic development initiatives.
  • Dartford Borough Council : Dartford Borough Council provides local services in the Dartford area. Their website offers business support information, planning and building control services, and access to licensing and permits.
  • Gravesham Borough Council : Gravesham Borough Council is responsible for local services in the Gravesham area. Their website provides information on business rates, planning applications, and economic development opportunities.
Business Support Organisations in Kent

To help you succeed in your business venture, Kent offers various business support organisations that provide guidance, advice, and resources. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Kent Business Portal : The Kent Business Portal is a comprehensive online resource for businesses in Kent. It provides access to business support services, funding opportunities, networking events, and useful tools and resources.
  • University of Kent Enterprise : The University of Kent Enterprise offers support and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses. They provide business incubation, access to expertise, and networking opportunities to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful ventures.
  • Kent and Medway Growth Hub : The Kent and Medway Growth Hub is a government-funded initiative that provides free business advice, guidance, and support to help businesses start, grow, and thrive in Kent. They offer access to specialist advisors, workshops, and funding opportunities.
  • Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce : Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce is a membership organisation that supports businesses in Kent. They offer networking events, training programs, and business support services to help businesses succeed.

We hope this comprehensive guide serves as a valuable resource for starting or running a business in Kent. Exploring the websites of local authorities and business support organisations will provide you with further information, guidance, and assistance. Wishing you every success on your entrepreneurial journey in the vibrant county of Kent!

Local partners

We are happy to promote anyone who is prepared to offer friendly support to local start-ups.

Our local partners have been kind enough to help us and are keen to help you too.

Free Startup Resources

Getting it right from the start can help to prevent problems later.

To help you with this we have created a vast selection of resources and they are all completely free!

FREE startup workshops

If you are thinking about starting a business, our FREE three-hour ONLINE workshop is definitely for you!

Open to everyone, our sole aim is to increase your chances of success. We do that by explaining:

The reality of running a business; the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them; which legal status is likely to be most suitable; funding, grants and managing your money; business planning and cashflow forecasting; finding and keeping customers.

Free startup guide

Start Your Own Business in 2021

Download the 2024 edition of our Free Start Your Own Business guide

An interactive step-by-step guide which also includes all of the most important subjects covered in an easy-to-read way with links to useful online articles and relevant contacts.

The idea of starting your own business can be incredibly exciting and who can blame you for being tempted?

However, the sad truth is that far too many new enterprises fail in the early stages. Our aim is to make sure that you don’t become one of them.

This guide explains the key start-up subjects in simple English.

There is also plenty of help available in the area and much of it is free - please do make the most of it.

Read more about what our Free guide contains and how you can download it.
Starting a business in Kent

Key Contacts in Kent

'You don't know what you don't know' is a phrase that is so applicable to starting a new business.

Kent is a great place for start-ups but your chances of success are dramatically improved if you make the most of the support that is available locally. Click on logos to visit their websites.

Education

Social Enterprise Kent
Social Enterprise Kent offers advice and support to social enterprise startups. To help you and your team develop new skills to grow your business, we also provide high-quality training in our venues in Ashford, Margate and Folkestone. Whether youre looking for courses to be compliant with the legislation and regulations, or management training to develop a high performing team, we have the courses every startup, and small business requires. From interactive one-day workshops, productive online training, to full-blown qualifications awarded by the Institute of Leadership and Mangement, you can build a skilled workforce. To chat about your latest social enterprise startup or training for your business, give us a call. Its the perfect opportunity to assess whether were right for each other. How does that sound? Lets get the conversation started today on 01227 469970.
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Networking

Muesli Mafia Cereal Networking
The Kent Invicta Chamber Muesli Mafia Ceral Networking provides an informal business 2 business networking breakfast in a congenial and relaxed atmosphere where local business people can get together, enjoy mutual fellowship, share their good news, views and discuss topics of mutual interest. Members are from all types of businesses. Events are held at the Ashford International Hotel, Mercure Maidstone and Mecure Tunbridge Wells.
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Marketing

Let's Do Marketing
Let’s Do Marketing is a subsidiary of Let’s Do Business Group that is here to help small businesses grow through marketing. Focussed on providing affordable and accessible support to new and small businesses, they offer consultancy and marketing services that can help you to achieve your big marketing ideas. Whether you’re just starting out with a brand new business or looking to grow, we can give you the guidance to create a marketing strategy that matches your goals. Let’s Do Marketing can also provide training to help you take control of your own marketing strategy, from learning new software and tools to creating award winning campaigns! Find out more about our services https://www.letsdomarketing.co.uk/ Want to chat about how Let’s Do Marketing can help you to level up your business? Get in touch at https://www.letsdomarketing.co.uk/contact or email us at hello@letsdomarketing.co.uk!
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Directory

Supreme Cleaning
Are you looking for a commercial cleaning company based in the South East of England? If so, Supreme Cleaning are the team for you. Discover their full range of services today through the website.
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Advice

South East Business Hub
The South East Business Hub (SEBH) is here to help your business on the path to growth and prosperity. SEBH can connect you with the services that match your business needs and help you make your mark in Englands most enterprising economy.SEBH is provided by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), the business-led, public/private body established to drive economic growth across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock.
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Marketing

Custom Marketing Resources
Marketing your business at every opportunity is crucial today, ensuring your potential clients instantly understand the benefits your business has to offer them. Creating a professional image and linking the different parts of your promotions to one another is not an option, it is vital. It is not surprising then, that one of the most essential areas for new and existing businesses to get right, is the area of creative design and marketing. Custom Marketing Resources are professional, experienced and qualified to provide design for marketing, printing and websites. Just take a look at this website and see for yourself - and see what others have said about Custom Marketing Resources too. Unique creativity comes from listening, asking questions, understanding and making experienced decisions to find the best solutions for your business. Skill and judgement are the major players when it comes to the art of image creation. We offer an hour long conversation about how to set up your business andor how to market your business. One call does it all - creative design, logos, ads, artwork, printing, websites, PR, copywriting, even van liveries and carrier bags if that is what you need!
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Funding

Access business finance up to £150k
Let’s Do Business Finance offers funding to both start-up businesses and businesses wanting to grow and invest in their future. Start up finance We’re one of the official Business Support Partners of the British Business Bank and Start Up Loan Company. We can offer loans from £500 up to £25k with a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum, and that includes 12 months of free mentoring to help you get off to the best start. Could you be eligible? Find out more https://www.letsdobusinessfinance.co.uk/lets-start-up Business loans Let’s Do Business Finance are able to offer business loans to help established businesses to grow. We’re accredited lenders of the Recovery Loan Scheme under the British Business Bank, and we’re able to lend from £25,001 to £150,000 on terms from 3 months to 6 years. This business finance can be used to help you secure anything from new premises, equipment, and capital, and our team can help you to assess your cash flow and finances, build your marketing strategy and more with our built-in business support which is tailored to your needs. Want to learn more about business loans, and see if you’re eligible? Visit our website https://www.letsdobusinessfinance.co.uk/ or send us an enquiry https://www.letsdobusinessfinance.co.uk/contact-us
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Office Services

SEPAT South East Portable Appliance Testing
Here at SEPAT we offer competitive PAT Testing services for any size business.
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Networking

Let's Do Business
We regularly run events across Kent to help entrepreneurs and business owners learn new skills. From start up skills to learning about marketing, sustainability, finance and more, we might have an event coming up to suit you! See our upcoming events https://www.letsdobusinessgroup.co.uk/events
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Advice

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
Kent Invicta Chamber is the ultimate business support network in Kent. The Chamber provides, Membership services, Business Advice, International Trade services, Representation and much more. Covering the County of Kent the Chamber is perfectly placed to promote, support and facilitate business across the Count We are the main Chamber of Commerce for Kent and the only British Chamber of Commerce affiliated chamber in Kent. We have a full range of both paid and free, local authority funded business support. Which services are free depends on which local authority you are a resident of or pay business rates in as funding varies in each Local authority. A full range of our free and paid services can be found here http:www.kentinvictachamber.co.ukbusiness-advicelocal-business-support
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Online Marketing

Whitefish Marketing
Welcome to Whitefish Marketing! We are a specialist Digital Marketing agency based in Kent, servicing clients throughout UK and abroad. Our core services focus on helping clients to grow traffic to their website, improve sales leads that come in, and to increase brand loyalty and retention of their existing customer base for future repeat business. We call this our ACQUISITION, CONVERSION, and RETENTION services. With our experienced team of digital marketing professionals, we know we can enhance your online visibility to increase your bottom line figures. Our marketing promise is – “we won’t accept your business unless we are 100% confident we will add value to your company”. Offering you specialist services such as: - Professional Web Design and Development - SEO (search engine optimisation) - PPC (Whitefish Marketing are an official Google PPC Partner) - Social Media Marketing - Email Marketing - Content marketing and blog writing - Digital Public Relations - and much more... We are there to provide business with a compete Multi-Channel-Marketing campaign bespoke to your needs and budget. The choice and flexibility is yours. We work remotely from our offices in Kent, but will gladly arrange face-to-face meetings as required. Our friendly and professional team will always be on hand to help Call us today for a frank and no obligation discussion to see how Whitefish Marketing can measurably help your business grow 01303 720 288.
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Advice

Let's Do Business Group
With the ability to help businesses across all sectors, our team can offer business consultancy services to help you achieve your goals. The Let’s Do Business Group can provide virtual business consultancy services through our team of business professionals and quality assured consultants. Whether its developing a business plan or strategy, coaching or mentoring of senior staff and business owners, or just being a sounding board our team are here to help. We offer a free initial consultation so that we understand your needs, and you get to know us. We will then agree how we will work together and our fees – this could be from a one off session, a short support programme or a longer term project. We also have access to a range of other business specialists to help you with anything from Marketing to HR – so whatever your need, we can find a solution. Contact the team today at https://www.letsdobusinessgroup.co.uk/contact-us or email info@ldbgroup.co.uk
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Advice

Let's Do Business - Start up Support
If you've got your business idea but dont know where to take it next, we offer support that can help you learn the skills you need to succeed. How can we help your business to #StartUp? - A free online session with one of our specialist business advisers - A free online session with one of our finance & funding experts - Access to business information fact sheets - Support to apply for a Start Up Loan Get in touch https://www.letsdobusinessgroup.co.uk/contact-us or call 0844 415 2272 (Calls cost 5p/min plus your phone company's access charge. If your mobile tariff allows free calls to landlines, you can call 01424 205 500.) Email info@ldbgroup.co.uk
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Directory

Marine & Industrial Transmissions Ltd
Operating from two bases in the North and South of England, the MIT Group serve clients throughout the UK, maintaining and repairing a wide range of service transmissions and driveline systems. Visit their website to see the full range of services they have to offer.
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Networking

The Lonely Middle Club - From Startup Hive
Starting a business is exciting, and succeeding is rewarding, but what about the bit between? You know, that bit that’s full of self-doubt, endless repetition and feelings of being out of your comfort zone? We call it ‘The Lonely Middle’ and it’s one of the hardest parts of creating a successful business. We know, we’ve been there. So, we created The Lonely Middle Club to help you through it. Each month you get exclusive content to help give you the knowledge and inspiration to succeed. Plus, you get access to a private members-only Facebook group where you can get advice and network with small business owners who are going through similar challenges to you. If you want even more, you can download our 51 worksheets, guides, and journals all designed to do one thing, and one thing only… help you get through ‘The Lonely Middle’ and achieve your business goals. Visit our website today to join the club and benefit from our members price lock and full no questions asked money-back guarantee.
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Networking

FSB Kent & Medway
FSB Kent & Medway is the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). It was formed in 1974 as the National Federation of Self Employed and represents the interests of small and medium-sized businesses locally and nationally. They offer a great package tailored to your needs if you are thinking about starting a business in the area. Contact: Alison Parmar Development Manager Alison.Parmar@fsb.org.uk
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Networking

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
Kent Invicta Chamber is the ultimate business support network in Kent. The Chamber provides, Membership services, Business Advice, International Trade services, Representation and much more. Covering the County of Kent the Chamber is perfectly placed to promote, support and facilitate business across the County. Address: Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Ashford, TN24 0LH, 01010
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Advice

Ask a Kent Librarian
If you need help with research or a library service, our librarians are here to answer your questions. You can chat with a librarian in real time or send us your question and wait for the answer. Its a bit like going into a library and asking a question in person, but can be done from your computer or mobile device. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but Kent librarians are only available Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm (excluding public holidays).
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Advice

Kent County Council - Grow Your Business
A useful section on the Kent CC website. It contains dedicated pages for: Business loans and grants; Doing business with KCC; The opportunity to sign up for email updates; Ask Phil business advice; Start a business; How to deliver services on their behalf; Business awards and events; Chambers of Commerce; Grow your business abroad; and information about the Kent and Medway Growth Hub.
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Advice

Locate in Kent
Locate in Kent provide free support for businesses to locate and grow in Kent.
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Advice

Ask Phil
Kent & Medway Growth Hub offer free advice, information and guidance that will help you to start, grow or improve your business. To get things started you can either fill in a Call Back request using a form on thee page or use the Ask Phil Live Chat facility. Or you can call us using the phone number above.
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Advice

Kent Invicta Chamber - Starting a Business
The Chamber Business Support team provides an extensive range of services for people starting or running a business. If you are unsure which event is right for you call us on 01233 503838 or visit our Business Advice page at: http:www.kentinvictachamber.co.ukbusiness-advice
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Advice

Kent County Council - Start a Business
This page on the kent county Council website lists some useful places to find information on how to get started.
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Advice

The National Centre for Micro Business
Through the NCMB you have access to practical workshops to get you in a position to better help yourself. Understand what is an entrepreneur, what it means to be your own boss – The NewMe™ and put a plan into action. Through the NCMB you have access to learning, teaching, training programmes together with practical workshops to get you in a position to help yourself.
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Advice

Kent International Business
Kent International Business (KIB) is a Kent-wide initiative which aims to encourage Kent businesses to export and access overseas markets and to provide information, advice and support to help them do so. KIB is led by Kent County Council in partnership with various business support organisations in the county. KIB is also backed by a range of commercial organisations.
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Advice

Thames Gateway Kent
Local authorities and other Thames Gateway Kent partners offer a range of services to support businesses in their area. The following links provide more information.
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Advice

Kent International Business
International trade can help businesses grow. There has never been a better time to consider exporting. Kent International Business (KIB) is a Kent-wide initiative which aims to encourage Kent businesses to export and access overseas markets and to provide information, advice and support to help them do so. KIB is led by Kent County Council in partnership with various business support organisations in the county. KIB is also backed by a range of commercial organisations.
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Advice

University of Kent Hub for Innovation & Enterprise
The University of Kents business incubation and support unit is devoted to helping start-up ventures and early stage companies to increase survival rates. The Hub for Innovation and Enterprise is a purpose-built incubation space for entrepreneurship and enterprise in Canterbury and offers a professional working environment with business support to assist new businesses.
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Advice

Visit Kent - Business
As a Kent business, there is a range of support available to help you grow your business in the way that you want to.
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Advice

Kent & Medway Growth Hub
The Kent and Medway Growth Hub forms part of the South East Business Hub, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s overarching business support programme, which also supports local hubs in East Sussex and Essex, Southend and Thurrock. We help new and existing businesses find the most suitable type of business support available in their area.
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Advice

Kent County Council Business Advice Services (Trading Standards)
From start-ups and small businesses to importers and manufacturers we can help you navigate complex regulations to protect your businesses and support good customer service. We offer a free telephone consultation with one of our officers to discuss your needs. During the consultation, which can last up to 30 minutes, we will identify how we can help you. Depending on your requirements this can range from free signposting to guidance and advice tailored to your business or a full package of support. Any costs will be discussed during the consultation.
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Advice

Kent Business Advisers
We have proudly helped businesses in Kent achieve their goals and aspirations since 2005. We can provide you with the support and guidance to grow and improve your business.
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Advice

Visit Kent
Visit Kent offers free on-site business advice as well as a range of customer care courses and training workshops.
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Funding

Kent Investors Network
KIN comprises a group of experienced business people who co-invest, assist and when requested advise growing companies. Since its formation KIN has built up strong links with various institutions in Kent including Kent County Council, its enterprise investment initiatives and leading lawyers, accountants and M&A advisors in the County.
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Funding

Kent Investors Network
Arguably the biggest challenge in leaving your secure well-paid job behind and starting out on your own is funding. You have rent to pay, food to eat and a business to launch! Unfortunately, unless you’re already well off, you will need to go through a difficult phase of not earning and needing to spend money on material, coders, marketing and more. This first phase is the ‘bootstrapping’ phase. You cannot raise money on an idea or a business plan. You need a lot more. If you are seeking investment, Kent Investors Network welcomes you to get in touch. We’re also growing our investor base so if you are interested please contact christina@inen.global.
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Networking

Supply My Business
Supply my Business is a community of small businesses in Kent that want to do more business locally. We are the one place where you can find all the quality local suppliers you require for your everyday business needs and at the same time supply your goods and services to help meet the needs of local businesses just like yours.
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Marketing

Kent Excellence in Business Awards
An awards scheme staged and produced by KM Media Group and Kent County Council to recognise and reward excellence in businesses in Kent and Medway. The Kent Excellence in Business Awards have a high profile, so winning this accolade will say a lot about the quality of your organisation and the strength of your management team. These awards attract a wide range of entries from across a variety of sectors - but the winners all have one thing in common – they are truly excellent at what they do and have proved this in their entry.
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Marketing

Business Vision Live
For more than a decade, Kent Vision LIVE has been helping businesses from across the South East to become more successful. As the South Easts premier business showcase, the event brings together over 3,000 visitors and 250 exhibitors every year, with the aim of creating new customer, supplier and partner relationships to make your business even better.
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Marketing

Kent Live
Kent Live covers breaking news, features, What’s On, events and sport for readers across all areas of Kent and parts of east Sussex. It has regularly attracted more than four million page views per month since its launch in 2016. Part of the Reach PLC group, our newspapers are the award winning Kent and Sussex Courier, Sevenoaks Chronicle, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Dover Express and the Folkestone Herald.
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Marketing

Kent Online
Kent Online includes a section which contains the latest business news across Kent. There are interesting articles as well as the opportunity to advertise or promote your events.
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Directory

Into The Blue
In addition to our range of thrill-seeking adventure days, Into The Blue offers activity breaks, romantic getaways, hotel retreats, glamping holidays and city breaks. So if there's a destination on your bucket list or you've ever fancied escaping to a log cabin or tree house for a weekend, we have options to suit everyone's tastes. Our variety of breaks can all be found on our website.
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Education

Kent Adult Education
Have you ever considered taking a course in Business Management? From Social Media for your Small Business and Applying for Loans to Strategies for Small Businesses, whether you’re starting from the beginning or need an accredited qualification, we’ve got it covered. Improve your employability and business knowledge with a Business course from Kent Adult Education. From learning the ins-and-outs of Microsoft Office and Bookkeeping to Search Engine Optimisation and Website Development, we have the Business courses to help you achieve your goals. All of our business courses are run by tutors with extensive industry experience who will be able to help you get the most from your learning, and take away a valuable skill which will benefit you and your business.
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Start-up articles

100's of free startup articles

We have created a collection of 100s of startup articles to help anyone with whatever stage they are on with their business journey. Hundreds of thousands of people have gone before you and we can learn from what they got right and avoid the things that have been proved not to work so well.

You can see the full list of 'articles' at: How to start a business