Starting a business in Stirling

Starting a Business in Stirling

This guidance is intended to assist start-up businesses who are looking to locate in the Stirling Region. It directs you to a number of organisations who offer business support, guidance and advice and details some points to consider when looking for premises and employing staff and thinking about financing your business.

Stirling has a supportive business community with STEP and Business Gateway two great resources to look to for information and Stirling Council is committed to supporting and encouraging start-ups in the region.


Business Support and Employability

Stirling Council has a dedicated Learning and Employability team which offers support to businesses through a variety of programmes and packages which can help with recruitment, wages and training for employees. Information is available here.

STEP run workshops and events specifically for start-ups and offer advice and support about all aspects of running a business from finding funding to marketing and branding.

Business Gateway  offers general business advice and information which is specific to Stirling.


Business Rates

Business rates are taxes paid on non-residential properties, such as shops, offices and bars and restaurants. When you occupy a building, or part of one, which you are using for non-domestic purposes, you will be required to pay business rates. These are based on the rateable value of the property and not on the turnover of the business. When looking at premises it is important to find out what the business rates will be and include this in your financial planning.

Further information is available here from Stirling Council and the Scottish Government has a handy business rates calculator.


Grants and Funding

There are sources of funding available to business start-ups. Open 4 Funding is an online portal which provides comprehensive coverage of all available funding opportunities.

STEP Scotland has information on Scotland specific funding opportunities. While the UK Government offers information on funding available to UK businesses.

The New Enterprise Allowance can provide money and support to help you start your own business if you are getting certain benefits. You may be eligible if you are over 18 and either:

  • you or your partner get Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance

  • you get Income Support and you’re a lone parent, sick or disabled


Another source for Scotland specific information is the Scottish EU Funding Portal. This funding portal is a single source of information on EU funding programmes for which Scotland is eligible.

Business Loans Scotland is a consortium of Scotland’s local authorities, providing loan finance up to £100,000 to new and growing small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) across Scotland.

For those aged 18-30 the Princes Trust offer support for starting a business. Support ranges from training and mentoring to funding and resources. For more information read about the Enterprise programme.


Choosing Your Premises

Selecting premises that fit the needs of your business is important. Things to consider include how much space you need, does the layout of the premises fit with what you want to be able to do, if you will require vehicular access is this possible and what parking is available. Business Gateway has a handy guide that can help you choose the right premises.


Planning and Building Use Classifications

Planning permission is required for many building alterations and changes of use. Stirling Council Planning Department are able to advise on the steps you would need to take if alterations and any associated planning permission is required.

Before taking on a property you should ensure that it is has the correct ‘Use Class’ for the activity you want to carry out. Use Classes are a way of classifying properties into categories for example, shops are grouped under Class 1 and houses under Class 9. Some uses fall out-with these categories and are defined as ‘sui generis’, meaning ‘of its own kind’.  This is set out in The Use Classes (Scotland) Order 1997

It is possible to change to a different use class. To do so planning permission may be required. In cases when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same ‘class’ planning permission is not required unless there are specific restrictions imposed by the council.

The Planning Department can also advise on matters regarding Use Class.



Some activities, such as the sale and supply of alcohol or late hours catering, require a licence. For more information on this you should refer to the Stirling Council Licensing pages


Food Businesses

If the business you are planning to operate is a food business you must register the premises with Stirling Council at least 28 days prior to opening. The registration form for doing this and further guidance about starting a food business is available here


Business Improvement Districts

There are currently 2 Business Improvement Districts (BID) in the Stirling area. Go Forth covers the City Centre and in Dunblane there is Discover Dunblane. Both are on hand to provide advice and support to start-ups. 



When taking on a property you will be required to sign a lease. Signing a lease on a business property is one of the most significant financial commitments that your business will make. Before signing a lease you should work with your professional advisors to make sure the lease matches your requirements as closely as possible and that you understand all the leases’ terms and conditions. Making sure you understand exactly what is expected of you as a tenant and your landlord is very important as a lease is a binding contract in law. It sets out the terms and conditions you must both adhere to. It is enforceable and you cannot walk away from it.  The RICS have an example of a simple lease.


If you are looking for a short term arrangement you could approach landlords and estate agents and enquire about taking on licence to occupy. Guidance on this is available here  and an example of what you could expect to be signing is available here .





The Stirling Council will not be involved in the lease process in any way. No communication to you from the Stirling Council shall constitute or be deemed to constitute the provision of legal advice. For the avoidance of doubt this is not an estate agency service and the Stirling Council are not acting as an estate agent.

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