Setting up and running your own business can be an extremely fulfilling endeavour. One of the hardest parts can be getting your company off the ground in the first place, and for this some extra cash is often required. Whilst some enterprises can start off small and grow organically, others need a significant investment of capital from the outset. If you’re looking for help with setting up your own business, there are several funding sources to look into.
With the British government taking an interest in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), there are a range of business grants to take advantage of. If you need less than £1m, a good place to seek advice and support is via Regional Growth Programmes. These grant schemes are run by both local and national organisations who have received funding from the government specifically to pass it on to eligible businesses. Around £1.7bn has been allocated since 2011, and this has helped over 9,400 SME’s in their endeavours.
To qualify for a grant, you need to be based in England. You also have to have a detailed growth plan, be investing private capital and have a goal to protect or create jobs. There is a full list of funding opportunities at the Gov.uk website which is regularly updated to showcase current grant prospects.
Make Use of Start-Up Loans
Another option you might be interested in is a scheme to provide business loans, especially for start-ups. This is another government-funded initiative, and it provides support, mentoring and loans for new businesses in their early stages of life. This is ideal if you’ve been unable to gain the interest of high-street banks and still need capital.
To qualify for a potential loan, your business must be less than a year old or, even better, yet to launch. You can use the mentoring of the scheme to draft a free business plan which can help your chance of being granted funding. The average loan is around £6,000, and every application is based on its own merits. The Start-Up Loans website has detailed information on how to get started and the places you can seek help.
Grants for Self Employment and New Ventures
There are also numerous opportunities to get a government grant to help your business. These vary across the country, with the Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and UK Government all having their own grant options, each with its own qualifying criteria.
Grants are extremely varied. For example, in Northern Ireland you could get a grant to take on apprentices, whilst in Scotland the Regional Selective Assistance scheme offers up to £10,000 for business plans wanting to create jobs. The government has a handy business finance support finder tool so you can search for appropriate funding.
Business Finance Partnerships
Another option offered by the government is the Business Finance Partnerships initiative. This has gained investment of £1.2bn and has been created to help funding reach SMEs via non-traditional means. So, instead of funding from a bank, capital can be gained from a partner instead.
The terms of each loan vary, but with businesses able to apply directly to fund managers and non-traditional lenders, there’s a much more personal connection to be made. Full details on this scheme can be found here.
New Enterprise Allowance for Disabled and Low-Income Individuals
If you’re disabled or on a low income, there could also be help by way of the New Enterprise Allowance. These are grants for disabled business owners or those in receipt of means-tested benefits, and can be an invaluable boost of capital to get a start-up off the ground. To qualify for this allowance you have to be at least 18 years old and receiving one of the following:
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
If you receive Universal Credit you may also qualify, so it’s worthwhile talking to your local Jobcentre Plus coach who can help find out if you’re eligible.
As part of the scheme, there are a number of benefits to take advantage of. Firstly, you’ll be able to access a mentor to help hone your business idea and get you trading. You can also receive a weekly allowance up to a total cost of £1,274 over 26 weeks to kick start your enterprise, and you’ll also be offered guidance in how to apply for a business loan. Any money you receive will not affect any Access to Work, Housing Benefit, Income Tax, Universal Credit or Tax Credit payments.
Initially, your business idea will be assessed by a specialist. If it’s seen to have potential, you’ll be signed onto the scheme and allocated a business mentor. If your business plan is approved and you start working for your company for at least 16 hours a week, you’ll be able to start claiming financial help.
SMEs are thriving in the UK at the moment, and a lot of this has to do with the variety of support on offer. So, if you want to start a new venture, don’t be afraid to ask for help and get the support you need to get off the ground.