Understanding what grant providers are looking for
Grant funding programmes tend to have a theme, and sometimes these themes can overlap. Themes might include manufacturing, export, growth, start-up, skills, digital, construction, energy efficiency or access to finance etc. This is important because the type of support available will often depend on the theme, for instance a new business in its first couple of years of existence i.e. a start-up, is more likely to be eligible for loans than an established business.
The good news is that if you are involved in a business in the manufacturing, construction, digital or science-based technology sectors then you are probably well placed for grant support in many LEP areas.
The bad news is that if you are in retail then you will find it very difficult to find any form of support unless it is a local initiative targeted at a specific location.
Some programmes are also choosy about the legal status of the business and may only offer support if you are a limited company or other formal structure rather than a sole trader, so again do your homework before applying in order to avoid being disappointed.
It is helpful to approach the process with an open mind and asking the right questions is important. For instance, asking a LEP advisor ‘how can I get a grant for my business?’ will not be as effective as asking ‘I’m looking to grow my business, how can you help me?’ The advisor will want to understand all about your business in terms of history, turnover and staff etc. and most importantly what your plans are for the future. Usually they will be looking to support business growth in terms of turnover and jobs though sometimes they might be willing to support the protection of existing jobs. Having an open mind is important because in some cases free support in the form of training or mentoring might be more effective than a cash grant.
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Considering the Grant Providers
When you prepare your application try to put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving it and check that none of the information submitted is obviously contradictory or raises red flags.
Consider getting a colleague or professional contact to proof read it for you before submission.
If you are in doubt about what they are looking for, it is better to ask for clarification rather than bulldoze or bull**** your way through it. However, that said, don’t worry overly about tiny details since grant programme managers understand that most applications are submitted by busy business owners rather than professional bid writers.
If there is something unusual in the background of the business then it usually makes sense to add an explanatory note about it rather than hiding or concealing it.
If you are projecting growth in turnover, profitability and staff numbers as part of your business case, be clear about the basis on which you have calculated that growth so that you can explain it if challenged. Plucking figures from thin air is not recommended, and any impression that you are ‘winging it’ will not help your cause.
So to summarise, our advice would be to take a professional, straightforward and honest approach to your grant application, and that will hopefully provide the right result. But if not there is always next time.
If you are serious about business growth then there’s a chance you can find grant providers who will support your plans – seek out an expert professional who can provide you with their skill and experience to aid the process.
Blunt advice from Yorkshire Powerhouse
Now you’ve read our article on 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:
The business support landscape is verging on the impossible to understand - programmes can be Government-funded, EU-funded, national, regional and local! Read >