Top tips for setting up a business in Sheffield

Top tips for setting up a business in Sheffield

17 June 2016

Image: Cyclists training at Skyhook Coaching Services, Sheffield

 We speak to Steve Harrop about locating his new cycle training business, Skyhook Coaching Services, in Sheffield and his advice for others wanting to set up a new business here.

My novel cycle training business opened in January 2016, providing competitive cyclists and triathletes with specialist training support to increase their power, speed, endurance and performance. Before moving to Sheffield, I lived in the USA for several years. As a keen competitive cyclist myself, I was always looking to improve my performance.  When we moved to Chicago, I was coached by an ex-professional rider who had developed a state-of-the-art coaching facility there, providing athletes with physiology testing, training on computer-controlled, load generators, and providing access to all other elements of support. I loved the time-efficient nature of this new training programme and how the technology they used allowed me to objectively measure my training efforts - meaning I could monitor my progress and improve my competition times and endurance, while maintaining a positive balance between work, family and training. This level of coaching wasn’t typically available in the UK for non-professionals, so I wanted to bring it to my home country and follow my passion for cycling.

When deciding to move to the UK, I literally triangulated all the places my wife and I needed to get to, and zoomed in on Google Earth. This located us right in the heart of the Peak District. As I wanted to be city-based, with easy access to the Peak District for training we stopped in South Manchester and Sheffield for a week before deciding where to live. I was drawn to Sheffield because of the great cycle routes available, from beautiful countryside climbs to gritty urban rides. My business is based in Millhouses and is sandwiched between the old railway station and Tesco, near Abbeydale Road.  This seemed like the perfect spot to try out my business idea as it is close to the centre with easy access into the Peak District for on- and off-road cycle adventures.

My main advice to anyone starting up their new business would be:

  1. Do your market research. I went to many different cycle and triathlon clubs thinking that people who had been cycling for a long time would be interested in my services but in fact it turned out to be people new to cycling.
  2. Find a unique selling point. Spend time thinking about what your company has to offer over the others around in your sector - what sets you apart from others? Make sure you are clear about this so that you can simplify your offering – something I have found quite difficult with such a novel concept.
  3. Make the most of any networking opportunities you get. I went to Business Sheffield when I first set-up my business, and they gave me a complimentary ticket to the MADE festival where I met some great people who were able to give me vital advice. A speaker at the event told me about the The Wosskow Brown Foundation – a charitable foundation set up to support business start-ups, social enterprises and grass-root sport in Sheffield over a 5 year period – which has helped support me a lot. I have also been attending a wide variety of outdoor events and other relevant exhibitions to try to market my services.
  4. Use social media as much as you can. This is how I have been marketing my company and I have found it a great tool for promotion and connections in the city, alongside those personal recommendations and word-of-mouth
  5. Attend the sessions that Business Sheffield runs. Without these sessions I wouldn’t have been able to access the same high quality information that I have gained. The last session I attended was on crowdfunding, something I knew nothing about before, but which I know I will need to use in the future.
  6. Have a goal to work towards. With the equipment I have currently, I can host up to 8 riders in one session, but in the future my plan is to expand to accommodate 24 riders within one centre for all things cycling. I want to expand the business and offer all cycling services under one roof, from bike maintenance to physiotherapy treatment, from strength and conditioning to sports psychology; whatever an athlete needs to attain their cycling goals.


If you are serious about training for any cycling event whatever the discipline, or undertaking a new cycling challenge whatever your level, visit Skyhook’s website for details of how to access a personalised training programme and a whole range of cycle services and support.

Have a business idea or wanting to set up your own company? You can get free and impartial advice to help you set up and grow your business here in Sheffield. Contact Business Sheffield on 0800 043 5522 to learn more.