Growth Vouchers programme
In January 2014, the government launched a programme to assist small businesses obtain professional advice. The programme will distribute vouchers to around 20,000 small businesses in England, mostly businesses who have never sought business advice before. The business help is delivered in the form of allocated Growth Vouchers, enabling businesses to receive up to 50% subsidy towards the cost of Businesses looking for advice can apply to the programme online and they will b randomly assigned to an online questionnaire or face-to-face business advice assessment.
Some businesses will be randomly chosen to get a voucher for up to £2,000 to help pay for business support in one of the specialist areas. You’ll need to match the amount with your own funds. You can then find a Growth Voucher adviser to work with; you pay for the services in full and request 50% back from the government. You can seek professional advice on 5 key topics that can help your business to grow:
- Finance and cash flow
Advice in this area covers the overall financial health of your business. It will focus on improving cash flow management and forecasting, credit control and late payments, on how to negotiate with banks or other funding sources. The advice can be used to develop a financial strategy for growth, raise additional finance and secure new investors, or to improve your own financial management skills.
- Recruiting and developing staff
Advice in this area aims to ensure that you have the right people with the right skills to help your business grow. It may focus on how to employ, train and manage personnel while ensuring that your business complies with employment law and regulations. The advice could be used for undertaking a skills audit, workforce planning, setting up performance management systems and rewards, and identifying the suitable organisational structures and processes to support the needs of your business.
- Improving management skills and leadership
Advice in this area will help business owners develop their strategy and vision, and will show them how to build and improve the leadership and management potential of themselves and their team. The advice can be used for assessing capabilities, identifying management development needs, improving management practices, reviewing business structure, planning for the future and managing change.
- Marketing, attracting and keeping customers
Advice in this area will help businesses develop effective marketing strategies and will ensure that they provide the right product or service at the right price, in the right place, at the right time. The advice can be used for market research, targeting potential customers, using social media and network to extend your reach into new markets, developing pricing strategies and closing sales.
- Making the most of digital technology
Advice in this area will help businesses maximise the potential of digital tools and technologies. It aims to focus on using them for product development and market testing, customer service and marketing, or building online sales and generating leads. The advice can be used for addressing the risks of cyber-attacks, or exploring how digital technologies could be used to reduce costs, improve quality control or productivity.
Your business must:
- have 49 employees or less (including any employees of companies that own a stake in your business)
- be registered in England
- have been actively selling goods or services for at least 1 year
- not have paid for strategic business advice in the last 3 years
- be independent (ie no more than 25% is owned by other businesses or organisations)