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How to get the best value from funded business support

With so many funded programmes and support services now available to young businesses throughout the Leeds City Region, it is a great time to start a business and those accessing these initiatives should take the time and make the effort to get the very best value from them.

Whatever the size of the business and its ambitions, no organisation wants to waste time. Many start-ups will be trying to do a wide variety of tasks that have to be completed for regulatory and governance purposes, which takes resource away from the ‘day job’.

Having to juggle so many jobs can be frustrating and often leaves people wondering why they started in the first place, but this is where accessing the support that programmes offer can make all of the difference.

Many of the sessions on offer will provide insight into tools and techniques that you can use to make life easier and more manageable.

The best way to approach business support programmes is to be honest and to write down a list of what subjects you need help with. No one is expected to be an expert at everything and that’s when finding the right advice and guidance can be invaluable.

It may be finance, marketing, networking or PAYE but whatever the topic, there is likely to be a dedicated course, workshops or open session that will give you access to a professional that can teach you the basics that you can apply and put into practice.

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Many of the sessions that are delivered by business support services will be funded by a third party, such as the ERDF or the local council. Even though a business may not be paying for them direct, it should not devalue what they can deliver.

These services are an opportunity for you to learn and to progress. They will help to take your business from a standing start to the success that it can be in a far shorter time frame. Why struggle when you can get the professional support you need?

Accessing funded business support and being prepared

One thing to consider before going to an event is to prepare. Just like anything that you pay for, you should come with any questions that you have and make sure that you approach these sessions with a professional mindset and with an objective in mind to achieve something as a result.

When you have completed the course, test and measure and use the information that you have learnt to the benefit of your business. Don’t just keep notes or handouts filed away in a folder marked ‘interesting documents’, instead set yourself some targets and make sure that you apply the skills you have learnt.

Many of the people that work for organisations and programmes that deliver business support have first-hand experience of the challenges that a young company will face and that is why they are in the position they are. Start-ups should use this experience to their benefit by listening and making sure that they don’t make the same mistakes, however small.

Finding the courses that will suit you is one way to get great value from these programmes but identifying what more you can access, including grant support, is also essential if you are to make the most of the opportunities that are available to you.

Some programmes will offer grants, and these can be reliant on a commitment from the organisation or match-funded, so it’s important that you find out which will work best for you. There are often a number of criteria that need to be met in order for you to be eligible for grants, however dedicated business advisors can give you the guidance you need to complete any necessary paperwork and to give you the best chance of securing funds.

When considering funding, it’s also worth asking for case studies and testimonials from other organisations that work in your sector. Knowing that this approach has benefited others and what they have achieved may give you some ideas or reassurance that it is a viable option for your business.

In order to give you some idea of how to get best value from the support services throughout the Leeds City Region, we have created the following checklist:

1.       Write down a list of all of the help that you need.

2.       Go online and identify any courses or workshops that may be of use.

3.       Set aside the time not only to attend but also to prepare for these events.

4.       Make sure you go along armed with your questions so that you have as much information as you need to make an informed decision about whether you access further support or not.

5.       Find out if you can access everything you need from one provider or if you would benefit from contacting others that may offer slightly different services.

6.       If you are looking for funding make sure that you read through the eligibility criteria before putting any time or resource into an application.

With this guidance you should be in a really strong position to get the very best from any funded business support service that you access and choose to work with. All you need to do now is to take the first step and find out what is available locally and how it will benefit your business.

You should approach funded business support like all other aspects of your business – strategically.  If there’s a strategic fit between the support available and your own specific needs then it’s good value and worth pursuing.

Blunt talking from Yorkshire Powerhouse on funded business support

Now you’ve read our article on funded business support – have you any more questions?

Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible – is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or can we help introduce you to an expert – please let us know:

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