I am sure I am not alone in the confusion that surrounds the availability of finance to new or established SME’s.
It seems that if you are a business to business B2B company there are more grants, match funding and loans available than to Business to Consumer/Customer B2C Companies. Even more so if you are in the exporting business.
I absolutely understand the need to trade outside the UK and support other businesses develop and thrive, but equally my own experience as a Growth Voucher Advisor and Business consultant is that many new businesses are established by people providing a service or product to consumers and more often than not delivered within a short distance of their trading place.
You may have heard about StartUp Britain, Young Britain, Enterprise Nation, Centre for Entrepreneurs, Business Hubs, an example being Shropshire Enterprise Hub, Growth Accelerator scheme? These are just a few of the current platforms supported by Government to assist new and SME size companies to set-up and develop. Many of the advisor and financial contributors behind the schemes do this voluntarily whilst others are employed by the organisation to manage the function it delivers.
Local Authorities also have a wealth of grants and finance and support available, but people just do not know how to tap into them. Each Authority seems to have a different department, team and strategy to access the funds and many are restructuring due to the political pressures to reduce costs.
As I reside within the Telford & Wrekin Borough Council area I thought I would share with you their website and information. There are some excellent people within their team and their general focus is good, the problem is getting the message out to those who ‘may’ need to know they exist whilst planning their business set-up or business expansion.
So what would I recommend if you want to try and locate the funding available or access people who may be able to sign post you?
Networking is an excellent way to go. In all areas there are literally hundreds of networks available. Some are the well known ones like the Chambers of Commerce, others are national, but delivering through local groups, like Federation of Small Business (FSB), 4networking and BNI, Others are local and can represent specific types of business, service provision and areas like female networks which are better suited to individuals.
Use Social Media to search for, research and make contact or follow key interest areas. Twitter, Facebook and the many other platforms can be a great source of information. You don’t have to post on them, just select interested areas and see what they are saying, providing or who they follow.
Contact your local authority or network group through the relevant websites. Ask to meet them, go to a network event as a visitor and see what is on offer.
One thing is for sure, you have to do your ground work and research, push open some of the doors, get yourself invites, be insistent but polite and supportive. My experience is there are many people out there willing to help and support. But, equally there are others out there who do not perhaps have the knowledge, skill or experience but nevertheless trade as if they have.
If you want some support, to ask a question or be assisted with signposting then contact me via my website in the first instance.
Many thanks for taking the time to read. I hope you found it useful?
Director, Saxon Park Services Limited.