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Grants and funding

You might be looking to develop a new product, buy equipments or run a training scheme to grow your business.

But as we have heard time and again, and as our research shows, banks just aren’t lending enough to small businesses and as a result it is putting small business growth on hold, which partly helps to explain why the UK has such a sluggish economy at the moment.

But you don’t need to rely on the banks for funding, grants can be a good way of helping to finance new initiatives.

Grants are available for a variety of subjects and each grant that is given is for a specific purpose. Qualifying for a grant can depend on the type of business you run, its size, whether the project will create jobs and where it is located.

Grants can be available for consultancy, design, advertising, marketing and promotion for instance, and for business expansion, relocation, improving your business premises, security and exporting. There are also grants available for IT, e-commerce, new technology, innovation and research and development, as well as training and recruitment.

Grants are available from organisations such as Business Link (England), Business Gateway (Scotland), Business Support (Wales) and Business Invest (Northern Ireland). Local authorities and enterprise agencies also provide grants to small businesses.

It is also worth trying Government departments and agencies such as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and UK Trade and Investment, or organisations such as the Prince’s Trust and the Arts Council.

It is best to contact these organisations first off and getting a list of the finance available; and organisations such as Business Link will be able to help you through the process.

Many schemes will ask you to provide a project plan or proposal. Just like your business plan, this has to be detailed with clear aims and objectives, as well as detailed costings and who will run the project. This needs to be a convincing case as to why you should be allocated the funding.

You will have to submit an application form which differs widely, so ensure you follow the instructions and are clear and concise. If you fail to fill in the complete application, it is likely that it will be rejected.

A word of warning: if you want to fund something immediately, grants might not be the best option as the application process can take several months, and businesses are very often required to meet the costs of the project – normally at least 50 per cent of the expenditure – so you will have to be prepared to raise some of the funding.

Grants are definitely a good form of funding to look into but it could be risky to base a business idea on the fact that you will get the money. Good luck!

For more information about the Federation of Small Businesses go to www.fsb.org.uk/

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