SMALL firms by their nature rely on their wits, while strategic advice allows them to stand back and plan for the future with expert help.” Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, speaks with authority on this. According to a recent study by the Department for Business, advice can increase productivity, drive sales and improve a company’s chances of survival. Yet as many as three in every ten small businesses in the UK may have an unmet need for business advice.
To remedy this, Jones has been at the forefront of the government’s Growth Voucher scheme, which offers up to £2,000 in matched funding to allow small companies (those with 49 employees or less) to access expert advice from the private sector. While seeking to enable firms to get assistance in areas like finance and cash flow, recruiting and developing staff, and improving leadership and management skills, there is also a heavy onus on digital technologies and customer attraction and retention.
So how does it work? Applicants initially sign up on the government’s Growth Voucher website (it’s open until March next year). Once you have received the voucher, simply visit the Marketplace, run by Jones’s Enterprise Nation, a portal that pairs businesses seeking advice with a range of advisers in a variety of areas. Here, you can search, compare and read reviews of available advisers, to ensure you’re getting what you need.
The Growth Voucher scheme has been running for a few months, and Jones says that the “results are starting to come through”. But a word of warning. The scheme is not designed for companies seeking subsidised practical advice on how to tackle specific tasks relating to running a business. It’s for strategic advice that will lead to growth. So perfect for the business trailblazers.