Free support for new businesses
When I started my business (8 years ago) I benefitted hugely from free face-to-face advice provided by Business Link, the government agency designed to help small businesses set up and grow.
Business Link still exists, but now it's a website (albeit a good one) and much of the training and free individual business guidance has disappeared.
I had presumed this sort of thing had disappeared from the whole country, but I see that's not the case.
The parts of the UK that are not England have their own business support agencies and they are still providing training courses and business advisors to a greater or lesser degree.
- Wales has Business Wales
- Scotland has Business Gateway
- Northern Ireland has InvestNI and nibusinessinfo.co.uk
I just heard from Catriona Forrest, a former trainee of mine who I met when she was leaving the BBC to set up on her own. One year on and she writes to say:
I can't quite believe how much has happened in this last year, but it was far less daunting for having been on your course and for all the support I've had from the Business Gateway and the Glasgow Regeneration Agency, along with an amazing amount of backup from my business peers in Scotland.
Not living in Glasgow, I'd not come across the Regeneration Agency. Catriona goes on to say one of the most beneficial things she received was access to a business mentor (take a bow David Hughes) who helped her apply for a small start-up grant.
She also found the Scottish Business Gateway courses very useful. They formed a kind of transition from being employed to setting up her own limited company. They were good for networking too.
The lesson here is: ask for help if you're starting out, and don't assume help will be expensive. It might even be free – especially if you live in Glasgow!
Posted on 03 October 2012