Business Link - What are the alternatives?
Business Link was one of the first casualties of the coalition’s cuts.
The business advice service, on which tens of thousands of entrepreneurs rely every year, is being pared back significantly, with the face-to-face element of the scheme being abolished altogether.
The move has been met with consternation by many of those who used the service – particularly as more business owners than ever find themselves in need of support. So, if you are looking for advice, where can you turn in the absence of Business Link?
Business Link online
Although the face-to-face element of Business Link is closing, the government has said that the online service will continue to exist. Indeed, it is thought that the budget for the Business Link website will actually increase, with the range of advice and the user experience both being improved. The Business Link website is therefore likely to remain an important destination for business advice.
Local Enterprise Partnerships
A replacement for Regional Development Agencies, Local Enterprise Partnerships see councils and businesses link up to boost business growth in their area. One of the key aims of the LEP scheme is to provide small firms with the advice they need to grow. There are currently 39 agreed LEPs across England. You can view the full list here, courtesy of BIS.
Chambers of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce is likely to already provide support and assistance to its members. The Chambers of Commerce network is one of the key routes through which business owners can find valuable information – and it also provides an important opportunity to meet other individuals in similar situations. You can find your local Chamber here.
Business Advice Service
The Business Advice Service is a new scheme launched by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). It provides free advice sessions for business owners at 3,000 locations across England, Wales, and Scotland – rising to 4,000 in the coming months. The BAS will be able to offer advice on topics including growing an existing business, seeking finance, tax requirements, and exporting. You can find your nearest BAS office here.
Accountants and solicitors
Finally, your accountant or solicitor will be able to offer advice on a range of topics. If you do not already have one, you can find a chartered accountant on the ICAEW website, or a solicitor via the Law Society.