It’s easy to feel alone when you’re starting a small business (or when you’re running one). You may feel that there’s not much support out there for you. But there is—you just need to know it’s there!
Here is the tip of the iceberg: five ways to access practical and financial support to help you launch and grow your business.
Join the FSB
The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) is the biggest business group in the UK and its website offers a wealth of information.
For members, the FSB provides a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government. Their objectives are:
- To be recognised as the most influential and trusted business organisation
- To value diversity and inclusion in everything we do
- To be fully representative of the whole UK smaller business community
- To provide the most valued package of business benefits and services
- To provide the most effective network for smaller businesses across the UK
There are two levels of membership.
FSB Business Creation: the Business Creation package is specially designed for those looking to start up, or those who have recently started, a small business. Benefits are tailored to help you get your business off the ground. Cost: £129.
FSB Business Essentials: the FSB Business Essentials package includes a whole range of benefits and products “designed to make your business fly,” from £142.50 per year with a one-off £30 joining fee.
To join, visit their membership page.
Apply for Government-backed finance
Take part in Small Business Saturday
Whether you are a family business, local shop, online business, wholesaler, business service or small manufacturer, Small Business Saturday is for you, pledging to support you and help to bring more trade to your door. This year, Small Business Saturday will on 1st December.
The programme starts every year with a bus tour around the UK. This year, it started in Blackburn on Thursday 25th October and will have called at 30 different towns and cities over five weeks by the time it reaches London on Wednesday 28th November.
At each stop:
- You can collect this year’s Small Biz Sat poster for free
- You have the chance for your business to be the Business on Board—an opportunity to demonstrate what your business is all about, exhibiting to the public and featuring across the campaign’s social channels
- You can book one of the 20 exhibition tables, measuring 50x60cm. They are free, but must be pre-booked via the Bus Tour section of your My Small Business account
- The Small Business Saturday team will once again be delivering their mentoring programme at all stops. Sessions are free for small businesses, but these too must be pre-booked via the Bus Tour section of your My Small Business Full details of the mentoring program can be found in the Mentoring Info Pack
- The team will host ‘Blue Sofa’ interviews, inviting entrepreneurs and leading local business figures to share their stories to a live audience on Facebook
To take part in Small Business Saturday, register now so that you can receive all the information and support available. Registering is essential and allows you to:
- Apply for Bus Tour events and tables
- Apply to the part of the Small Biz 100
- Get your business listed on the Small Business Finder
- Receive free, expert, online training from Small Business Saturday and their new partner iDEA (The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award), an international programme aiming to help address the digital skills gap
Small Business Saturday will be celebrating the achievements of small businesses taking part in the iDEA programme throughout the year with special content and events, details of which will be shared with participants over the course of their programme.
If you feel it’s too late to join in this year, mark next year’s calendar for October now, so that you don’t forget to register!
Win a government contract
The Government Contracts Finder website lets you search for information about contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies in England. You can use Contracts Finder to:
- search for contract opportunities in different sectors
- find out what’s coming up in the future
- look up details of previous tenders and contracts
You can create an account to get email updates and save your searches, but you don’t need an account to search and apply for contracts. The equivalent sites for other countries in the UK are:
- Public Contracts Scotland for opportunities with public sector bodies in Scotland
- Sell2Wales for opportunities with public sector bodies in Wales
- eSourcing NI and eTendersNI for opportunities with public sector bodies in Northern Ireland
Get support with research and innovation
UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.
The Funding page can signpost you to the opportunities available to finance your research and innovation projects.
Be bold—do you research and see if one of these suggestions could boost your business! Are you planning to use any of the ideas above? Let us know how you get on.