Government Funding for SME’s

Have you heard about the government initiative for half-price consultancy support for small business owners?

The Growth Voucher programme was launched at the end of January to enable SMEs to access up to £2000 matched grant funding to help their businesses grow and thrive.

So in effect, it’s making strategic advice available to small businesses for basically half price – not something to be sniffed at!

Growth Vouchers can be used to obtain strategic advice on any of the following categories:

  • Developing skills and taking on staff
  • Improving Leadership and Management
  • Managing cashflow, late payments and negotiating finance
  • Marketing, attracting and keeping customers
  • Making the most of digital technology

Having been awarded Growth Voucher Adviser status for The People and Project Consultancy, I thought I’d share a few key points about the scheme, in case you are thinking of applying for the vouchers, or applying to become an adviser.

Applying for funding

  • In order to be eligible, you need to have been trading for more than one year, have a turnover of less than Euro 10M and have less than 49 full time employees.
  •  Vouchers will cover up to half of the cost of paying for strategic advice up to a maximum of £2,000 (non-inclusive of VAT). After receiving and paying for the advice, you submit a claim for the subsidy. You will have to provide evidence that you’ve paid the invoice and give details of the advice you received. Claims will be processed on receipt and should be paid within 30 days.
  • When it comes to completing the application, it’s pretty straightforward. You apply online, here’s the link) and will be asked to provide details of your business, including your company registration (if it’s a registered company) and your company turnover. You’ll then be asked about your growth objectives and to rate your capabilities against the five strategic advice categories.
  • After completing the assessment, applicants will be given a suggestion about which area of strategic advice would be the most appropriate and told whether or not they’ve been allocated a voucher. You find Growth Voucher advisers on the Enterprise Nation Marketplace. Here’s the entry for The People and Project Consultancy – feel free to take a look!
  • If you’ve looked into the growth vouchers, you may have read that businesses who’ve paid for business advice in the last 3 years are not eligible. However if the advice you’ve received has only been day to day advice from an accountant, book keeper, and solicitor or as a member of a business organisation on completing your annual business accounts, then you will still be eligible. Similarly, if you personally have used personal mentoring or had any light-touch business support at the start-up stage that was fully or partially subsidised, you can still apply for Growth Vouchers as a business.
  • The Growth voucher initiative is a pilot and therefore businesses are to be randomly chosen to get a voucher, which you have to match with your own funds. You will be asked to take part in surveys to find out how the programme has helped you.

Becoming a Growth Voucher Adviser

To become an adviser you need to register on the Enterprise Nation Marketplace. You’ll need to give strategic advice that helps small businesses grow, be a member of a trade or professional body and have professional indemnity insurance.  The process is straightforward and one tip I learned is that you can speed up the process by contacting them via email after setting up your profile, sending scanned copies of you trade/professional membership and professional indemnity insurance.

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