You may be surprised by how many funding and grant opportunities there are out there for small businesses.
One of my clients, Phoenix Managed Services, was recently awarded a Growth Grant from Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF). All they needed to do was to demonstrate a spend of up to £4,000 on an activity that was designed to bring growth to the business and claim a 25% grant.
In Hampshire, many district authorities offer grants to businesses and can be contacted directly for more information. In particular, Winchester City Council’s Business Innovation Fund is for small businesses (1 to 9 employees) located in the Winchester District. The council’s grant panel invite businesses who meet their criteria to produce a short film or online pitch to market their business idea. Funding is usually around £1,500, but in exceptional circumstances awards can be up to £2,500.
Let’s Do Business offers business growth loans in Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hampshire for established businesses of 12 months or more, who want to grow, but who are unable to access conventional bank support.
Small business government grants
There are a wide number of different government grants for small businesses available across the UK, and a good place to look is Business Finance Support Finder.
Government grants can cover a range of areas such as saving money on premises and rates or buying cheap plant or IT equipment. Some grant schemes will ask you to match the amount they award, so you need to ensure you have the same amount available to invest in your business.
Types of business grants include direct grants that tend to cover start-up essentials including training, investing in equipment, or reaching new markets.
Equity finance is not a grant but covers schemes that offer up to 50% reduction in income tax on investments made in new businesses up to £100,000. Businesses have to be less than two years old and have fewer than 25 employees.
Start-up loan schemes are loans with lower interest rates and better terms than you can get from other lenders. The Start Up Loans scheme is backed by the Government and provides personal loans of up to £25,000 with a 6% interest rate and access to free business support and mentoring.
Applying for a small business grant
Small business grants are usually awarded for specific projects such as buying equipment, investing in marketing or other initiatives that will help you grow your business.
For the best chance of success, you need to focus on the grant use when you write your application. Make sure your submission follows the grant objectives as closely as possible and explain how the money will benefit your business both in the short and long term.
It also helps to have a professional business plan, and bear in mind, some award bodies may also ask to see your business position and balance sheet.
Of course, there is competition for business grants – but you’ve nothing to lose by applying, and you never know, you could get lucky!