One of the questions frequently asked by businesses either starting-up or embarking on a project is “Are there any grants?” – everyone likes some free money!
In fact, there are literally hundreds of different government grants for businesses across the UK, but how do you find out about them? And how do you access them?
Firstly, there is a golden rule on all grants – do not start the project until the grant has been offered.
If you start before, its assumed you would do it anyway and a grant wouldn’t be offered.
Some grants are easy to access, whilst many are complex with lots of processes and several stages, and each grant will have its own requirements and criteria for applying. So, you need to apply as early as possible.
In preparation for any grant application you should:
Research what grants there are
The Government Business Finance Support Finder
The North East Growth Hub
It’s also worth looking at what RTC North and NBSL have available, though their current funding is fully allocated. There are also several grant schemes for reducing energy usage. You can also speak to one of the team at Business Northumberland who can signpost you.
Make sure you are eligible
Grants always have conditions so make sure you fit the scope before spending time on applying; for example, business size and type, whether you have any funding currently in place, why you want the grant and what industry you operate in will be criteria you might need to fit.
Most grants only part fund a project so you will most likely need some other funds available in order to qualify, and you may have to create new jobs or safeguard existing ones. If you’re not sure talk to the grant body about your chances of making a successful application.
Make sure you prepare before applying
Good preparation improves the chances of success, the bigger the grant amount the more likely you will need a good business plan, with sales projections, cash flow and profit and loss forecasts.
You should tailor your business plan for the specific grant you’re applying for. Make sure your application stands out by demonstrating the business potential you can see if your funding application succeeds.
If a grant isn’t available for your business there are lots of alternatives.
The Government backed Start Up Loan Scheme offers loans of up to £25,000 with a low interest rate and access to free business support.
If you’re aged between 18 and 30, the Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme might be a way to find the funding and support needed.
If you are interested in finding out more about loans and other business funding then register with Business Northumberland and access our guides and support on business funding. Or sign up to attend one of our fully funded Business Finance workshops.
With a combination of research and planning there’s a good chance you’ll find a grant or other funding to help start or grow your company. Good luck!