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[Update 3 April 2015: The Growth Vouchers scheme closed to applicants on 31st March 2015. Enterprise Nation say that they are campaigning funds for a proposed follow up programme called Enterprise Vouchers. We will post news of that here on the blog if, as and when it develops.]
If you’ve been thinking about getting some expert, professional advice to help you grow and develop your business ... but haven’t yet done it or think you can’t afford it ... then now's a good time to check out the Growth Vouchers scheme.
[This post has been updated to reflect changes to the scheme as noted in the scheme's T&Cs dated August 2014]
This Government programme has a funding pot of £20 million to distribute to small businesses in England to ecourage them to invest in their business. It fact it's a research project to test how small businesses can benefit from subsidised, strategic business advice.
So, if you run a small business you can apply for a Growth Voucher for 50% match funding up to a total of £2,000. That means if you put in £2,000, the scheme gives you £2000 giving you a total budget of £4,000 to spend.
But if that sounds like too much of a financial challenge for you, the good news is that you can choose to invest a lesser amount if you wish. For example, if you contributed £500, the scheme would give you £500, giving you a total budget of £1,000.
The catch is that Growth Vouchers are awarded at random – so, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get one, even if you do meet the eligibility criteria. But the Government estimate they’ll issue vouchers to some 20,000 businesses - and you’ll stand as good a chance as anyone else of getting one.
Here are the headlines:
There are 5 key areas of advice covered by the scheme and you have to apply for one of them and then spend your voucher with a Growth Voucher accredited adviser specialising in that area. The 5 areas are:
- Finance and cashflow
- Expanding your workforce
- Leadership and management
- Marketing and customer service
- IT and web
Points to watch:
- Check out the 2 options for claiming funding and factor it into your cashflow - you can either pay your adviser in full and claim back your match funding yourself or pay your adviser 50% of their bill and they claim the match funding. Obviously you will have to agree which option to take with your adviser.
- The Growth Voucher does not cover VAT. So, if you are not VAT registered and your adviser is, then you must cover the VAT element of their bill as well as your half of the funding.
- Check the expiry date of your voucher and get ready to shortlist and select your adviser, agree the piece of work and get it completed within the timescale.
To be eligible you must:
- Have 249 full-time employees or less, or be self-employed – so this is open to you if you are a solo professional or run a micro business.
- Must be able to demonstrate that the business is actively selling goods and / or services.
Above all, to qualify for funding, the advice you buy must be strategic advice designed to help your business grow. You cannot use it to buy implementation services.
So, if you were to work with me on marketing, we could cover developing new markets, products or services, creating a marketing or communications plan, or how to increase your online marketing presence or content marketing authority.
But I couldn’t do research or copywriting, run an email or PR campaign, or manage your social media or editorial calendar for you as part of this scheme.
If this all sounds interesting – and maybe just the thing to help you kick start a more strategic approach to business – what do you do next?
- First, check out the full details to ensure you are eligible and understand the T&Cs, starting here on the Growth Vouchers scheme website managed by Enterprise Nation and then follow the application procedure.
- If you are interested in working with me on marketing and customer service, you can check out my accredited Growth Vouchers adviser profile here ... and of course take a look around this website - remembering that, as far as any funding goes, I’ll be helping you at the strategic level.
- If, having checked out the detail, you have any questions or would like clarification on exactly what strategic marketing advice means in the context of your business ... just give me a call on 01386 701944 or drop me an email.
Sadly, if you are an existing JHA strategy client then you can’t use a Growth Voucher to fund ongoing work with me.
Otherwise, whatever your circumstances and area of interest, if you do apply for a Growth Voucher – good luck!
Note: The scheme rules may be subject to change, so please check the Growth Vouchers scheme website for latest terms and conditions.
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