When you are starting a new business, or you have a business and you need to expand it in some way, money is often the factor that can be the most difficult to organise. It’s good to know there are a number of avenues of assistance available to you to consider. You might want to consider applying for some kind of a grant or funding to help kick-start your new venture.
If you are looking at investing in employee training, getting new equipment, researching and developing new products or just want to get a professional web site for your business, there is a good chance that there is a tailor-made grant or funding source that has been set up for that very purpose. Millions in Central government and European fund Euros remain uninvested every year, there are literally hundreds of grant schemes tucked away that very few people know about that only experts in the field will be able to advise you about. First you have to ask around in the right places and be prepared for it to take some time.
A good start would be to approach your local Business Initiative and local government business offices to see what is out there that could potentially help to fund your business. There are grants available ranging from as little as £50 – £100 for a single person to over a million to big corporations, through various business financial assistance groups and agencies, the trick is finding them and secondly, making a successful application. You will certainly need to have a solid well documented business plan, and that would be the first area in which Business Initiative especially could help you. They even have free courses available for people who have been recently made redundant or unemployed to help them formulate a business plan including the all- important cash flow projection for the first year of trading and then beyond.
You need a bank account, it is well worth talking to your bank manager about what you intend to do and always shop around for the best deal when it comes to selecting a business bank account, (the high street banks are always in competition for offering the best business bank account deals and sometimes offer things like free business banking for the first year) a business plan that makes economic sense – It may sound silly but you would be surprised how many people actually neglect to ensure these basic business criteria are in place before chasing financial assistance. Also, you will need to ensure that you have at least half of your start up capital available – nearly all grant systems expect that the proposer will be able to put up at least 50% of the capital in the first place, otherwise they will not be confident that it is a wise investment or that you are not totally serious or committed to making a real go of it.
The main sources of business funding are – Central government grants and loans, local councils, European funds and charitable organisations. The trick is to have well informed professionals on your side who can guide you through all the red tape and find you the most appropriate and well suited funding option. The charitable organisations have money put aside but only for those businesses that they are aligned with in some way either philosophically or in intention. The most general are definitely the Government and Euro funds and so approaching local government business departments and business initiative are very positive and possibly the only first steps you will need to take to embark on the quest for financial assistance, setting up or expanding your business venture.
You will need to understand that the process can be quite exhausting and time consuming, and you will need to have a back up plan should the application for funding be unsuccessful. A good secondary option to consider is a business funding loan and there are many types of “soft” business loans available, when starting up a new business, that can offer lower or even 0% interest rates, low repayment rates spread over longer than usual time frames which can be quicker to obtain than a grant and have less conditions attached.