Business Opportunities: What Support is Available?
If you're looking to grow your small business, find out more about the finance and support options available to help you...
Every week we are reminded what a tough economic climate it is out there for businesses, however could there be some big opportunities out there to support businesses through this difficult time? The answer is yes!
It may seem at times that there is no support for aspirational businesses however there are some big opportunities, which if taken, can make a significant impact on your business. These opportunities have been designed to support the six out of 10 businesses that are targeting growth for their business for the next 12 months, according to a recent FSB survey.
With that in mind, here is a round-up of the top financial and business opportunities to support small businesses as we see them:
There have been many changes and introductions of government backed schemes for small and medium businesses, designed to boost growth. These include:
- Community Development Finance
- Enterprise Finance Guarantee
- Business Finance Partnership
- Start-up Loans
- Regional Growth Fund (RGF)
- EU funded sources of Finance.
Depending upon your business, you may be eligible for several of these schemes, so if you are looking into start-up or additional sources of funding, they are well worth looking into.
There are a number of government backed schemes that have been introduced to support the UK’s small firms. The Growth Accelerator scheme is a £200m programme aiming to help 26,000 businesses over three years to overcome barriers to growth. In addition a further trade-specific example is the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), a national service to support manufacturing businesses grow by providing experienced advisors.
Changes in buying channels
Consumers are now moving towards online and mobile methods to browse and shop, so it is important your business adapts to these changes. This is also supported by the estimation that internet retail sales will grow from £28.3bn in 2011 to £33.7bn by 2015 according to a recent paypoint.net report. There are many ways you can incorporate these channels into your business with little hassle including a payment app on your smartphone to allow you to take payment on the move, or having an online shop to allow your customers to purchase your goods and services online using any device.
Many businesses are seeing the rewards of entering overseas markets, which allows them to both diversify their business and broaden their potential customer base. When looking at international opportunities, businesses will need to carry out considerable planning and research before attempting this step but support is close to hand. The UK Export Finance and UK Trade and Investment are government departments dedicated to providing support to UK exporters on all topics of international trade including financing solutions and are a good starting point for advice.
There are continuous advances in new payment technologies that if implemented correctly can play a big role in supporting your business to grow and potentially save you money. These technologies can range from streamlined e-invoicing to enable your business to get paid quicker and accelerate cash flow, to creating a mobile app to reach a considerably wider customer base. The size of the opportunity created will depend upon the scale and purpose of the technology and how you choose to use it within your business. Looking at ways to use payment technology to streamline your finance systems will make a huge difference in time spent running the day to day elements of your business, as well as save you valuable money on fees and unnecessarily high monthly fees.
Neil Graham is CEO of merchant services business CashFlows.