I’ve just been appointed as the Nottingham spokesperson for the scheme, something I really wanted to take on because I think the scheme is brilliant, and it’s great that government is doing something so practical to help small businesses.
So what is it?
It’s a government funded scheme that can give you up to £2k match funding to help your business to seek strategic advice to help grow your business. It’s a randomised controlled trial which means not everyone gets a voucher, as they want to assess the impact of getting professional advice. However at the moment around 75% of all applicants are getting the funding, so the odds are pretty good just now.
What can you use the funding for?
- Raising finance and managing cashflow
- Developing skills and recruiting staff
- Improving leadership and management skills
- Marketing, attracting and keeping customers
- Making the most of digital technology
Use it or lose it time
They’ve put £30m into this scheme which is currently a pilot, and they need to shift a lot more vouchers between now and March 15 when the pilot ends if they’re to get more money next year.
And they’ve just widened the criteria for the funding, so it’s worth checking out if you could get your hands on some of the cash.
Here are the key criteria:
- 249 or less employees
- Turnover of less than £50m (so you’ll be ok then!)
- Your business is registered in England
- Your business is independent, so no more than 25% owned by another business
You used to have to pay for the advice up front to claim it back, but they’ve just relaxed this so that you only pay half and your advisor can claim the funding for you.
The other recent change was that previously you couldn’t apply if you’d taken strategic advice in the last 3 years or been on Growth Accelerator; that’s now changed so you could still qualify. By the way, many firms are using Growth Vouchers and then going onto Growth Accelerator so they maximise on the generous government support that’s out there at the moment.
So if you’re serious about growing your business I do recommend that you take a look at this scheme (link is external) – you apply online, and then you’ll be randomly chosen either to an online questionnaire or a face to face business advice assessment (again part of the trial)