There is great energy and growing optimism among SMEs around the UK and a record figure of more than half a million start-ups were established in 2013. Growth among these new businesses and the 4.5 million or so other SMEs around the country would go a long way towards turning what remains a fledgling economic recovery into something resembling a full-scale resurgence.
Thankfully, this notion is not lost on the government, which remains keen to see SMEs supported and given every chance to find sustainable expansion in their particular markets.
Here’s a look at some of the key ways in which public efforts are being made to assist Britain’s SMEs, put together from the team at Funding Options:
Home office support
The government recently introduced new rules relating to home offices with the aim making it considerably easier for entrepreneurs to establish businesses from their own rented accommodation.
The new laws provide reassurance for landlords that their tenancy terms will not be undermined when a business is being run from a rented residential property. Plus, that process will not now tend to require planning permission or attract business rates of any kind.
Figures suggest a sizeable majority of new businesses in Britain begin life in a residential property and the latest estimates are that they contribute close to £300 billion annually to the UK economy. No surprise then that the Government is keen to see home-based start-ups afforded every opportunity get established and to grow without any unnecessary hindrance.
Raising investment for growth
In recent months the government upped its financial support for a scheme designed to deliver loans and funding to start-up companies around the country by £30 million. The Start Up Loans operation provides financial opportunities to fledgling companies but also advice on business plans and mentoring for ambitious entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme continues to open up access to funding for SMEs in their third year of operations as they aim for growth. These targeted loans are available at a level of up to £25,000 and they’re designed to give viable small businesses a chance to raise the kind of finance they need to fully pursue opportunities in their respective sectors.
Advice for growth
Accessing the right funding can be crucial to the prospects of SMEs around the UK but so too can accessing the right kind of advice and expert support. With this in mind the Government has created what it calls the Growth Voucher Scheme that offers small companies ways to secure advice on key issues from finance and cash flow to recruitment and staff development, and from marketing to making the most of digital technologies.
With similar aims in mind, the government-backed Growth Accelerator scheme looks to provide support and guidance to SMEs that are struggling to maximise the growth potential of their businesses.
Recruiting for growth
Knowing when, how and who to recruit as a small business boss can be very difficult and amounts to one of the key challenges that many SMEs face in the early stages of their development. In order to limit the potential financial ramifications, the government has cut the cost of hiring via a £2,000 employment allowance and offers grants worth £1,500 for the first ten apprentices an SME takes on between the ages of 16 and 24.
Innovating for growth
Being able to innovate effectively is important for any business but for SMEs it can often be the difference between steady progress and complete failure. To support small companies in this respect, the government is offering SMEs the chance to claim up to 225 per cent tax relief on research and development costs, as well as Smart Grants worth up to £100,000 and Innovation Vouchers of up to £5,000.
Figuring out how any or all of the above can help your company’s prospects might take a little time and investigation but with the right approach there’s every reason to think that your business might be able to benefit from government support or official legislation. A vital first step is to find out what help is available and then to keep asking questions until you get the answers you need on the specific subjects that mean the most to your business.