Will 2014 be the Year of Small Businesses?

According to Chinese astrologers, in this New Year of the Horse, if you have a business involving wood or fire you should do well!

According to the Government, if you happen to be an SME (Small/Medium Enterprise), things are looking up for you too!

The Government has a strapline doing the rounds at the moment: ‘Making the UK an easier place to do business’ – even though I tend to be a little cynical of such sweeping statements, there does seem to be an increasing number of helping hands out there. For example:

www.growthaccelerator.com The Growth Accelerator programme is targeting high growth businesses offering growth coaches and different routes to investment.

www.mentorsme.co.uk Mentorsme is a national web portal providing help in sourcing business mentors.

www.seiswindoworg.uk The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme is aimed at lowering the risk of investing in SMEs by providing Government tax incentives.

www.fundingcircle.com This is a crowd-funding initiative and just one example of a new breed of non-bank lending options – Funding Circle is being supported by the Government as part of their Business Finance Partnership Scheme (BFP).

www.startuploans.co.uk  Start-up Loans are a Government backed scheme to provide loans and mentors to entrepreneurs and fronted by ex-Dragons’ Den, James Caan. Not surprisingly they also have a high profile delivery partner, Richard Branson, with his newly launched Virgin Start-up, which is a not-for-profit organisation offering entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 funding, resources and advice. www.virginstartup.org

www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers The Government’s Growth Voucher scheme will run until March 2015 – it will offer 20,000 eligible small businesses up to £2,000 each to help them access specialist business support. Vouchers will be available to businesses with under 50 employees, which have been trading for at least a year and have not accessed external strategic advice in the past three years. They will also be required to match-fund the voucher. Successful applicants will be selected at random by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to benefit from the vouchers! www.marketplace.enterprisenation.com/about#howgv

http://www.wlv.ac.uk/default.aspx?page=28326 Innovation 1st is a University of Wolverhampton initiative part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aimed at helping SMEs in the West Midlands access and use the latest technologies.  Businesses can benefit from up to 12 hours free assistance and support from the University’s IT technicians.

If you have used, or are about to use, any of the above schemes, please do share your experiences below.

Also, if you know of any other initiatives, please do add them here too, so that we can spread the word amongst the SME community!


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