Starting and running your own small business from home can be lonely, and you will almost certainly be on a steep learning curve for the first few years as you get to grips with all of the practicalities involved in taking your idea to market.
So where can you get the help you need for your small business to ensure the success your hard work deserves?
One of the best sources of help for small businesses is actually the Government. The 5.3 million micro-businesses – those employing fewer than ten people – in the UK account for 32% of the nation’s employment and 19% of national turnover, so it’s no wonder that the Government is keen to support this important part of the economy.
The Government provides help and advice to small businesses directly, through its website, and via various partners, both fact to face and online. Its direct support includes specific input on how to deal with tax, how to write a business plan and how to start exporting.
Your local Chamber of Commerce
Chambers of Commerce exist to deliver services that help businesses grow and are also the premier private sector source of advice and support for international trade and exporting.
Find out how to contact your local Chamber of Commerce here.
Mentoring and coaching for small business owners
Going beyond this kind of procedural help, it’s almost always invaluable to have access to someone who’s ‘been there and done that’ who can challenge your thinking or prompt you to explore new options as well as give you advice on good practice. You might be able to find a mentor or coach through a local business network, or you could seek one online via MentorsMe.co.uk or similar websites.
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Sources of funding
If you’ve decided that your business needs finance to get off the ground then it’s worth investing time in researching the various options available. A good place to start is the Government’s Finance and support for your business portal, which lists a huge range of regional, national, and sector-specific funding sources providing both loans and grants.
One of these is the Government’s Start Up Loans scheme which is designed to promote entrepreneurship and to tackle the problem of accessing finance that most start-ups face in the early stages of their development. It offers loans of up to £25,000 for 1-5 years at a fixed interest rate of 6% to individuals in England and Scotland through official delivery partners.
Are you on benefits?
The Government’s New Enterprise Allowance provides money and support to help people on certain benefits start or grow their own business.
Find out more about the eligibility criteria here.
Private funding sources for small businesses
Other sources of ‘seed capital’ for new businesses – as well as further investment as your business expands – include your bank, of course. Some small businesses choose to access finance in the form of unsecured loans through crowdfunding loan sites. Although this can be more expensive than traditional sources of capital, it’s particularly popular with small businesses producing very innovative products or services because crowdfunding investors tend to be more open than banks to backing more risky, cutting edge ideas.
Insurance for small businesses
Although the exact types of trade-specific or other professional insurance your small business needs will depend on what it does, if you’re running your small businesses from your home, you also need to make sure that your home insurance policy takes your business activities into account – many standard policies don’t permit this.
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