Claire Bradford: Growth vouchers are great for your business

Ever wanted to get some great advice or training for your small business but found the price tag prohibitively high? Well, there’s some great news.

The Government has recently introduced an initiative called ‘Growth Vouchers’.

The scheme means that if you have been trading for at least a year, you have fewer than 50 employees, and you haven’t paid for any business strategy advice in the past three years, you could be eligible for up to £2,000-worth of vouchers to be spent on getting guidance in the areas of:

- Raising finance and managing cash flow

- Marketing, attracting and keeping customers

- Making the most of digital technology

- Improving leadership and management skills

- Recruiting and developing your staff

So how does it work? There’s a simple online form to fill out at www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers to get the ball rolling.

Following that, you will have an hour’s meeting with an adviser from the scheme to discuss your business and explore your needs, and then you’ll be told whether or not you will be given the funding. There are a few small ‘catches’ here :

- The vouchers are granted on a ‘lottery’ basis, which has nothing to do with the needs or calibre of your business and everything to do with, well, just sheer luck really (although I’m told that, at the moment, most people are getting a yes)

- The vouchers can only fund up to 50 per cent of your business advice cost and need to be match funded by you (bear in mind that you can apply for less than £2,000 though)

- You have to choose the source of your advice from the (extensive) list of approved suppliers. You can see this at www.marketplace.enterprisenation.com.

- The business advice you are funded for must fall into one of the five areas listed above, i.e. you can’t use it to get a website built or to fund any similar business project

- You will be asked for feedback about your supplier, what you learned, and how it has affected your business, as this scheme is a project to examine the effects of external advice on small businesses.

Want to know more? Go to the website detailed above, call 0800 652 6254, or email Sheryl Tipton, the area’s Growth Vouchers ambassador on sheryl.tipton@enterprisefirst.co.uk.

Tweet me @coachbythecoast to let me know how you get on!