Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

A really handy guide to government small business resources: Starting up and growing your business

Starting a small business can be completely overwhelming. Where to start? Where to sell? How to find the ruddy finances? And let’s not even get started on thinking about taxes, legal issues, certification…

The government makes a song and dance about supporting small businesses – but what help is out there for you? GOV.uk may seem like a labyrinth, but never fear, because we’ve done the hard work for you, compiling a list of the government resources that are on offer – everything from workshops to grants for small business.

First up, we’re looking at the government business resources that are available to help in starting and growing your business.

First steps

The good ole government provides a simple guide to the initial steps to consider when starting up a business, with some external links for each step.

Naturally, you start with an idea – but what then? The Government advises that you:

–       Research your market

–       Come up with a clear business plan

–       Source suppliers and partners

–       Set up your business structure

–       Find funding

The government also provides a handy video on the importance of market research, and how best to go about it here. Market research can help you figure out the level of demand for your product, which is crucial.

Another really important step is a business plan – so when you’re freaking out you can look at your gloriously organised plan and remember what you’re doing. The government helpfully provides a business plan template to get you started, and you can find example business plans here. This is especially important, as you’ll need a business plan to get funding.

If you’re the only person in your business, you’ll be classified as a sole trader. You’ll need to research suppliers if necessary, compare prices and build relationships – and then figure out how to get your own products to the public. This video provides some advice on how best to do this.

Growing your business

It’s okay – take a deep breath! The government backs this pretty cool scheme, run in conjunction with private companies – Growth Accelerator. And it doesn’t just work for small companies; if your SME has been established for a while already but you need a push to make it a world-conquering business, they can help get you to the next level. It’s not free, with prices starting at £1300 (that’s including VAT), but you get a fair whack for your buck. You’re assigned a Growth Manager who works closely with you to improve your business andwill evaluate what you most need to concentrate on.

What’s on offer?

–       Access to financial advice and help (including assistance with pitching for funding – very Dragon’s Den!) You get coaching and masterclasses on all aspects of financing your business.

–       Help with making a business development plan, with workshop training and guidance in developing a strategy.

–       Training in innovation strategy

–       Management and staff development.

Am I eligible?

If you are determined to grow, based in England, have fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than £40 million, you’re eligible!

What next?

You can apply for a free consultation here or call 0844 4632995.

What other resources for starting and growing a small business are out there? It’s a scary world.

Worry not – there’s somebody to hold your hand. The government recommends Mentors Me – a website which partners up businesses in various stages with more established companies who act as mentors, providing guidance and advice. There are mentors available all over the UK.

Alternatively, if you aren’t keen on the sound of Growth Accelerator or mentoring, or don’t feel they’re for you, the government offers a handy list of business training courses that can give you the confidence and direction needed to run your business efficiently.

In the next feature we’ll be looking specifically at finance and funding to provide you with the lowdown on what’s available for you, and how to get it – stay tuned!


Useful links and numbers:

Business Link Helpline
Telephone: 0845 600 9006
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

A collection of general business resource pages collected by the government can be viewed here

Greatbusiness.gov.uk is the government’s website for UK business owners, and is a very useful collection of resources.