Free (and low cost) support for Start Ups
Updated: Jan 8, 2021
The definition of an entrepreneur in the Cambridge dictionary is someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity. What was your motivation for becoming a business owner? How’s it going?
As a start up myself this year, I’ve been on a big learning journey over the last couple of months which has taken me completely outside of my comfort zone where I’ve had to ask myself ‘how much can I push myself?’ However, I have received some amazing support.
(BCoC) British Chamber of Commerce
During a local networking event, a kind fellow SME pointed me in the direction of the East Midlands British Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber provides a wealth of excellent business support and resources for start ups and SME’s, in the main at no cost which has been hugely beneficial in the early days of starting my business.
I have subsequently subscribed to the British Chamber as the member benefits hugely outweigh the cost of the annual membership including HR, Legal and Health & Safety advice and resources.
Fully Funded Workshops for SMEs
I was able to attend various fully funded workshops as part of the Digital Business Growth Programme (additional funding is being sought to continue this programme) on a range of topics such as: Digital Marketing, IT Fraud & Data Loss and Blogging.
Through the LLEP (Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership) I have attended workshops on topics such as: Public Relations, Strategic B2B Marketing, Website Optimisation, Social Media and High Growth Leadership & Management Skills.
These workshops provide a great opportunity to discuss challenges and share successes with peers, and for networking. They are very well structured, informative and practical with a very high standard of content and delivery, with great tips and tools. Invaluable for you as a start up.
Access to a Business Advisor
Until September 2019, eligible SMEs can access 12 hours of funded business advice via the LLEP. These are 1-2-1 sessions with a Business Advisor dedicated to working through your business plan.
NBV Enterprise Solutions
NBV provide a 3 days fully funded programme - Starting in Business which covers business planning, registering, branding, legal and financial obligations.
For new businesses already trading, there is a follow up fully funded 2 days programme - Solving the Rubiks: The Art & Science of Business Planning which is a faster paced strategic workshop.
FSB (Federation of Small Businesses)
Similar to the BCoC, the not-for-profit FSB has a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise and support for a small annual fee including workshops and networking events.
Finding a mentor early on is invaluable as it provides you with access to an impartial resource you can use as a sounding board and for guidance, someone looking from the outside in who can be objective. When thinking of the suitability of a mentor, think about someone you find inspirational, someone with similar experience or familiarity in your chosen sector, who will challenge you in a supportive manner and who has good values. If you need help in sourcing a mentor, you can find inspiration at mentorsme.co.uk.
In summary, if you are feeling daunted, puzzled or unsure where to start there are some great resources (including business coaching) out there for you to tap into so that you can effectively plan for your business success. I certainly have more clarity, structure and greater motivation for being better informed and a much bigger toolkit than when I started.