6 Indispensable Resources for Birmingham Small Businesses
Posted on 15th September 2022
Grants can benefit every business! Even if yours is growing nicely, it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to improve and increase profits; this is always a good idea!
Whether you are a start-up in Birmingham or an established small businesses in Birmingham, times can be tough, particularly in the current business climate. Find out what funds are available in Birmingham and the surrounding areas.
What funds are available?
1. Business grants
Business grants are available for financial support awarded to a start-up or established business to help the business develop and grow. Grants can be used for research, training, new equipment, or even accessing new markets, such as growing the business financially.
There are a wide variety of business grants; some are focused on certain industries or specifically for start-ups, while others are open to applications from any business sector. They are awarded by either the Government or specialist companies, and the benefit is that these grants do not need to be paid back, unlike business loans. Let’s look at the top six business grant options.
These are provided by different funding bodies, like Innovate UK, that is structured to support business growth, innovative ideas and particularly research-based businesses.
National Lottery Heritage Fund
As the name suggests, these grants focus on supporting, sustaining and transforming the UK’s heritage. The types of applications they support are historical places, cultural traditions and museums.
R&D tax credits
Particularly related to science and technology-based businesses, these grants are funded by the Government to encourage research and development.
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)
These grants are voluntary partnerships between businesses in a local area and the relevant local authority to provide business support, guidance and funding to, for example, Birmingham businesses. Currently, there are 38 LEPs in England that come under the umbrella of Growth Hubs.
New Enterprise Allowance
if you are starting a business, this could be a good option funded by the Government. However, it is targeted toward people currently on benefit support, which means certain criteria need to be met - you are 18 and over, and either you or your partner must receive a qualifying benefit from the Government.
The Prince’s Trust
This offers business grants designed to support young people aged 18 to 30 who want to start their own businesses. The benefit of the Prince’s Trust is that they also provide a variety of other business support resources, like training and mentoring.
2. Business funding
Plenty of Birmingham businesses are already established, but to grow and develop, they need funding support. There is a wide variety of business funding options:
Business loans from banks and building societies or alternative funding providers.
Crowdfunding through crowdfunding platforms.
Venture capitalists – the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) provides invaluable advice.
Angel investors – the UK Angel Investment Network is a great platform for sourcing angel investors but remember that you will be giving up a percentage of your business’s ownership, as you will with a venture capitalist.
Incubator investment – these are investors that focus on early-stage start-ups, i.e. people who may only have reached the stage of a great idea or a viable product and may not have reached the business plan or model stage. They usually work on a fee basis rather than equity in your business.
3. Covid-19 relief support
Many small businesses in Birmingham suffered during Covid-19, and the Government and other organisations introduced a range of Covid-19 business support packages. Some are in the form of grants that don’t need to be repaid, and others are loans with significantly lower interest rates to ensure affordable repayments.
Sometimes it’s not always financial help that is needed for small businesses in Birmingham but individuals that are prepared to be a mentor, sharing their business knowledge. Mentors give up their time for free but enable owners of start-ups in Birmingham and established businesses to gain the expertise and experience of a senior business leader.
Through companies like Be The Business, you can find a business mentor who is not only knowledgeable in your business sector but may also be located near you so that you can meet with them face to face. The programme is designed to match the small business with the right mentor who can meet with you regularly to discuss your challenges, and leadership tips and suggest valuable resources.
5. Networking groups
There are several Birmingham networking groups that provide a great way to meet, connect and partner with like-minded business professionals, such as the Business Network Birmingham or Connexion for Women in Business. Most networking groups are pretty strict on the number of people in a business sector that can be a member, which means there is little dilution.
They usually meet once a fortnight or once a month for breakfast or lunch, but they also host various networking events that allow you to learn and gather vital knowledge from other business experts.
6. Free business advice and support
The Government provides several government-backed schemes that allow you to access free business advice and support. The organisations partnering with the Government can give you help with tax advice, show you how to write a business plan or if you want to access international markets, they can advise on exporting and other implications.
Organisations like Small Business and The Prince’s Trust, as well as your local council, can provide business support and advice.
Of course, there is always the option of your local contacts that will often have good advice, particularly as they can see ‘the bigger picture’ as they are not too close to your business.
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