At the beginning of the year, the government announced a 15-month, £30m small business growth scheme. Qualifying small businesses can register for up to £2,000 of funding support for:
- finance and cashflow;
- recruiting and developing staff;
- improving leadership and management skills;
- marketing, attracting and keeping customers;
- making the most of digital technology.
Small businesses must match the government's funding and those that are selected randomly must work with the Cabinet Office's Behavioural Insights Team, which has been tasked with finding out how the funding helps businesses that receive it.
To qualify the small businesses must:
- have 49 employees or fewer (including any employees of companies that own a stake in your business);
- be registered in England;
- have been trading for at least one year;
- not have paid for business advice in the past three years;
- be independent (ie no more than 25% is owned by other businesses or organisations).
The Prime Minister's enterprise adviser, Lord Young, heads up the fund and principally it's meant to help businesses conduct research before launching a new product or entering a new market.
All services must be bought from approved advisers (there are more than 3,160 of them) through Enterprise Nation. As of 6 March 2014, Enterprise Nation reported that more than 1,400 businesses had applied for funding, and 598 vouchers had been allocated, with a value of more than £1m. Here's the breakdown of the types of strategic advice small businesses have invested in so far:
- 46% marketing, attracting and keeping customers;
- 15% raising finance and managing cashflow;
- 13% improving leadership and management skills;
- 5% recruiting and developing staff;
- 21% making the most of digital technology.
With the scheme due to run for 15 months, I'd advise small businesses to apply – but be aware that you have to pay fees upfront before reclaiming money from the government. Find out more about the scheme here.
- Blog provided by Scott Brown, accounting MD at Sable Group.