Since the establishment of a small Roman settlement named Londinium over 960 years ago, the UK’s capital city of London has grown into a bustling megacity, one of the largest and oldest cities in the English-speaking world and home to over 8 million people.
Once the administrative heart of the British Empire and now the financial capital of the world, London’s reputation as a vibrant commercial hub has stood the test of centuries of industrial change; areas of the city that would have hosted scriveners, basket makers and fletchers 500 years ago now teem with a vibrant mix of law firms, digital agencies and hedge funds. Over 300,000 people commute in to the City of London every day, many of them working in Financial Services, and the creative, digital and legal industries are huge employers in the west and east ends of the city.
It’s not just legal, financial and online services businesses that have made their home in the capital; the convenient transport links and the diverse and specialised workforce, combined with the prestige associated with trading in the capital, prove an appealing mix for millions of small business owners. Over 850,000 active limited companies are registered in London, and countless sole traders and partnerships operate within the M25 boundary.
The culture of business in London has a rich history; more than 100 traditional Livery companies, almost half of which have been in existence for over 500 years, are based in the city. With names like “The Worshipful Company of Needlemakers
” and “The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers
”, the ancient Livery companies acted as the precursors to the modern chambers of commerce. Each livery company held a royal charter and unlike modern chambers of commerce, membership was defined by the industry, rather than the town or city, their business belonged to. In the 16th century the relevant livery companies regulated their own industries, and if an aspiring entrepreneur wanted to buy a business, they would have had to belong to the Livery company for many years, having earned an apprenticeship and collected the necessary money and contacts to take on an existing concern.