Challenges, obstacles, jumping hurdles!

This is where the fun starts! I’ll be exploring the topics below in relation to my own experiences:

Change of use (class of licence for building/unit)

Some people have been finding that some councils insist on a change of use before they can use a shop. This is not always necessary. The permissions are at the discretion of the local council and they can be persuaded to be more supportive of ventures with the right information and support.

Different licences allow different activities to take place. See this link for info on what the classes are:

It would be important to find out what class the building is, that you are interested in, if for example you wanted to do food preparation in the space.

Getting insurance

Well from initial exploration it seems that only one insurer is happy to take on risk associated with ‘pop-ups’. People in the units have found this to be a headache – not least because as part of our lease agreements there was a clause requiring us to have public liability insurance. As an artist my first thought was to take out insurance through the amazing organisation AN (artist network: they do a decent deal on public liability insurance if you join their organisation. They have a video on their website on the bureaucracy involved with pop-up shops that is also well worth viewing:

Insuring the whole space and not just my person/practice turn out to be different things so I sought and received a reasonable quote from:

Signage and planning permission

It took several weeks after having taken on the space to get the go-ahead to have any kind of text in the windows.

This is because this building is a heritage building and planning permission (which can take 28 days) is having to be got before any signage can go ahead. A headache for all involved! Signs make people aware of what you are doing They direct traffic into your shop/project and consequently are vital.

The Government has a planning portal that explains some of the background to this issue, but essentially the decision will be taken locally:

They say:

Because inappropriate adverts can harm an area visually (and even economically) many authorities have produced supplementary guidance on the design of suitable adverts and commercial signage.

Other adverts without deemed consent will require express advertisement consent from the local authority. If the building is listed you will also require listed building consent.

You must obtain consent as it is required before an advertisement is displayed and the Local Planning Authority may take action (including prosecution) if no consent is in place.

H&S / Fire safety / Risk assessments

Ensure that you know your fire escape routes and that they are well signed as much for your own sake, as for customers. Minimise trip hazards. Consider the implications of what to do with waste, recycling and any chemicals (for example if you run a dark room, how will you dispose of chemicals according to COSHH?)

Further guidance on Health and Safety (UK rules) can be found at:

Local authorities may have different arrangements for collecting waste from businesses, so find out what the rules are.


Locks, bolts, padlocks, secure storage are all things that should be considered from the outset. I’d advise having the number of the local police in your shop. I’ve not yet had to deal with the possibilities of shop lifting – but only two days into having the space another tenant said something had been taken in their shop. There are lovely creative people out there doing great things, and unavoidably there are also opportunists ready to nick stuff!

Our collective group of units/shops has also set up a relationship with the local police and the community safety team, so that patrols will routinely take in this new venture. A police officer has offered to come and train us all in how to deal with tricky customers (i.e. the do’s and don’ts), and on security in general. Especially (but not just) if you are a woman running a shop/space – I’d definitely recommend speaking to your local policing/neighbourhood team.

PDQ Machines, Merchant accounts, Business banking

The first time I had a crack at setting up a business my credit was woefully bad! I smartened up in a jacket and went along to a high street bank in Manchester with high expectations – which were very quickly dashed! In the end I set up an account with a credit union. If you can’t get business banking there are other alternatives out there. You can take payment with paypal, google wallet or sometimes your website may be able to facilitate an online shop (for example Mr Site websites allow an online shop).

Credit Unions are also well worth investigating. There is a national body for UK ones:

Credit Unions are regulated by the FSA – but they can have specific criteria (such as living in a certain location) to be eligible to join. For example, they may say that you must live or work inside their “common bond”.

See this article for information on Credit Unions lending to SME’s:

PDQ machines require you to have a bank account to take the money into. They also do not come free! You can negotiate deals though, if for example there are several of you in a space trading.

Market traders can access a good deal on machines through their trade association:

Collaboration / Management style
Management style can make or break a project. Good managers communicate and at least attempt to have clear processes and transparency. Learning how to manage a project or staff is not a skill you can acquire overnight – but setting out with ethical intentions can sure help!

Support and sign-posting (sink or swim)


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