The UK government has launched a scheme offering free expert advice to small businesses.
Here's what the scheme can offer your small business – we also highlight a range of other free advice sources for small businesses.
The difficulty can often be knowing where to look for advice and support in the first place. This guide is designed to help you with that first step.
Besides the financial support it's provided for small businesses and the self-employed in response to the severe disruption caused by coronavirus, the government has also set up non-financial support. These include one-to-one expert advice, leadership skills training and peer networking.
The government has set up the Recovery Advice for Business scheme to help small business owners get through coronavirus and adapt their operations, so they can recover in the long term.
The free business advice covers a range of topics, including:
According to the government website, thousands of UK business experts have stepped forward to lend their expertise. Small Business Minister, Paul Scully, said: “It is incredible to see so many professional advisers stepping up to do their bit for small businesses across the country. This advice platform will help to boost our recovery from the impact of coronavirus, giving small businesses extra support to adapt their business models and come back fighting.”
Each adviser has offered at least one hour of small business support a month until the end of 2020. You can access the free service on the Enterprise Nation website, where you can:
The UK government's department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has set aside £20 million to fund two new support schemes for businesses with between five and 249 employees. The Small Business Leadership Programme is one of those schemes.
It's a free 10-week programme providing training in strategic leadership skills, giving you the "confidence to make informed decisions that boost business performance."
To qualify for the scheme, you'll need to be based in England and have been trading for at least a year. You'll need an internet connection and a device to join the programme, which will be delivered online initially.
You can register for the Small Business Leadership Programme on the government website.
The other scheme being funded out of the £20 million pot from BEIS is Peer Networks. This is your chance to discuss your business challenges in group sessions with your peers. The idea is that you'll gain valuable feedback to help you come up with solutions you might not be able to work through on your own – several heads are better than one.
Sessions are free and run by expert facilitators.
To qualify, you'll need to:
You can register for Peer Networks on the government website.
A quick search reveals lots of free advice available online, and our Knowledge centre is a great place to start. We cover topics like:
On mentorsme.co.uk you can search for possible mentors depending on the stage your business is at (start-up, growing, established etc.) and where in the UK you’re based.
This site is specifically geared towards small to medium-sized businesses, and features a resource library, and case studies so you can see how the service could benefit you.
The Simply Business Knowledge centre features a range of guides to help you get your business idea off the ground. You can read about things like:
As a small business owner it can be tricky to keep track of all your administrative tasks and legal obligations on top of providing the goods or services that form the basis of your operation.
One way to keep up to date with your business legal responsibilities is to join a trade association or accrediting body for your profession or industry.
For any legal issues affecting your business, it’s important to seek out professional legal advice.
BT has said it'll introduce a bursary scheme for 1,000 UK tech start-ups and entrepreneurs. The bursary will offer free fibre broadband and mobile bundles to eligible companies from October. Full details are yet to be released by BT.
If keeping your accounts in order is becoming a challenge, there are plenty of free apps available now to help you. You can read all about them in our article on the best accounting software for small businesses.
Keeping on top of your income and outgoings is essential to keeping you on the right side of HMRC when it comes to paying your business taxes. Find out more about your obligations in our complete guide to small business taxes.
We’ve also pulled together a list of online HR solutions for small business, including several free services if you don’t have much budget for this yet.
One of the major tasks of being an employer is, of course, making sure your staff are paid on time. Read our guide to some of the best online payroll systems for small businesses to take some of the initial legwork out of getting started.
Finally, it’s all well and good having a business that offers a great service or a product. But it’s no use if nobody knows about it.
That’s where our free downloadable guide to marketing your small business can help. It covers the whole range of marketing topics, from your website and social media to networking and flyering.
Will you be taking advantage of the government’s Recovery Advice for Business scheme? Let us know in the comments section.
We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer
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