Financing a new business venture is particularly difficult for first-time entrepreneurs. Whether you need a small top-up, an emergency loan for unexpected costs, or your entire project funded, finding capital for a start-up company can be very challenging.
As well as taking out bank loans and selling shares, one of the best ways to raise money for your business can be through government-backed schemes. According to the government’s own ‘Finance Finder’ tool, there are 630 programmes available which might help fund your new business venture. The tool allows entrepreneurs to narrow this hefty list down according to the location, size and activity of their company. Here, I have done the hard work for you, and sifted through the schemes to find some of the best!
Pre-Start Assistance – Starting from scratch with just an idea:
New Enterprise Allowance from Jobcentre Plus:
This scheme promises a weekly maintenance grant to would-be entrepreneurs, guidance on applying for a government start-up loan and in-depth business mentoring support.
If a job centre advisor thinks that your business idea has enough potential, they can help you to find a business mentor, help you to write a solid business plan, and apply for those all-important loans.
To qualify, applicants must be either in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, or be an Income-Supported lone parent. This opportunity is available nationwide.
If you do not qualify for this help, but would really value the opportunity to have your business idea developed, you can seek help from the Outset Finance Programme. This free-to-use, government-backed advice service offers help to pre-start companies looking for loans to get their business off the ground.
If you do qualify for this support, and are aged 18-30, you may also be eligible for business mentoring and low-interest loans from the Princes’ Trust Enterprise Programme.
Start-Up Assistance – Getting your new venture off the ground:
Start Up Loans from the Start Up Loans Company:
An accessible scheme, this opportunity is available for anyone living in the UK who is over 18 years old. As well as business development support similar to the pre-start schemes, this programme offers low-cost loans. With a fixed interest rate, payable each month, entrepreneurs have up to five years to repay these loans. Coupled with mentoring support, this can offer a lifeline to start-up companies – the opportunity to fund your enterprise, and advice on how best to spend the money.
If you are based in England, you might be also interested in a GLE oneLondon Loan. These loans are on offer to start-up companies, and delivered on the basis of an interview. Loans can be upwards of £2,500, but do not come with any kind of mentoring support.
Regional opportunities, such as the East of England’s NWES loans, can offer further support if you have a particular location in the works for your business. The NWES loans offer up to £10,000 at a 6% fixed rate of interest, and come with the business mentoring we have come to expect from many government-backed schemes.
Practical, non-financial help for start-ups wishing to expand can be found as too, with Jobcentre Plus’ Universal Jobmatch offering a platform for employers to advertise jobs through the Jobcentre.
Your start-up might qualify for help outside of the obvious, business-concerned opportunities. If your project is concerned with the arts, you might want to apply for a grant from the Arts Council. If your dream lies in social enterprise, companies like Wenta might be able to help you to plan for success.
Growth and Sustenance – Helping your start-up to flourish and expand:
Business Growth Service by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:
This programme offers advice and support for independent companies, to help them grow at a manageable rate. Offering advice on everything from developing new products to breaking into new markets, this service holds a diverse set of keys for successful companies wishing to expand.
If your company is interested in fighting for public-sector contracts, CompeteFor from BiP Solutions might be able to match your supply with a potential buyer. BiP will be working with such giants as Transport for London and the London Business Network in the near future.
For companies looking to expand into the the rest of the European market, one of Enterprise Europe’s regional offices might be able to offer advice on funding, on finding partners on the continent and opportunities to compete for European public sector contracts.
For smaller companies, with a focus on the arts, Creative Industry Finance offers business development loans from £2,500 upwards.
Finally, for those self-contained enterprises which have made an exceptional mark on their communities, the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise can offer a stamp of approval. This award is available to companies employing at least 2 people which demonstrate outstanding achievement. Such an honour would help to propel the name of any company looking to expand.
These are just a few of the multitude of programmes which might be available to support your small business. Be sure to check out the regional support available in your area, as there are hundreds of schemes targeting particular areas. Good luck, and happy finance hunting!