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Finding the right business support Every successful business needs support to start up, compete and grow. This can range from making sure your business has the right mix of talent available so you can build a skilled workforce, to making sure you’re able to access the right kind of finance when you need capital to grow. Wherever you are in your business cycle, it’s worth taking the time to make sure you understand the support that’s available to you. Here are a few tips to get you started. Find out what’s on offer The first step is to find out what’s happening locally in your area. Throughout the country there are a range of organisations providing business support, including Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Trade Associations and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs – England only). One recent initiative that has been introduced is Growth Hubs, with these being coordinated in England by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). A growth hub is a local public/private sector partnerships with 39 operating in total. Work out what you need It’s important to work out the type of business support you need. If you don’t know, you should seek to get a diagnosis and your Growth Hub can help with that process. Many businesses facing challenges can see the symptoms but find it difficult to identify the root cause. You should also consider whether you’re in a position to pay for business support. Ask your Growth Hub for a list of providers. These should give you a range of options from free through to paid for services. You can also check with your Growth Hub to see if there are any schemes or competitions being run locally that you may be eligible for. Tap into your local network Networking to share business experiences and ideas can be a great source of support. Ask your Growth Hub to help you hook up with local business groups such as the Federation of Small Businesses or the British Chambers of Commerce. They will have local events and meet-ups which can be a good way to get to know your local business community. It is very likely that there are other business owners who have faced similar challenges and could have some useful advice. Also, get your Growth Hub to put you in touch with your local university or business school. You may find that it offers free business introductory classes or some level of business support. It’s also good to know how the university interacts with the local business community in case there are opportunities to collaborate or work on joint projects which could benefit your business. Consider investing some time now to build your network and create your own pathways to support. This will give you access to a range of ideas when you’re looking to tackle the next challenge or take the next step. You’ll find you reap the rewards as your business grows.
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