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Growth

£2,000 giveaway for advice- hurry!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Did you know that your business may be entitled to a voucher for up to £2,000 from the government to help finance specialist business support?

Growth Voucher logoThe new Growth Voucher programme helps small businesses get expert advice on:

  • finance and cash flow
  • recruiting and developing staff
  • improving leadership and management skills
  • marketing, attracting and keeping customers
  • making the most of digital technology

and you will be pleased to know that this includes legal advice!

Provided your business meets certain key criteria and you are selected in the random selection process, you will receive a Growth Voucher for up to £2,000 to help finance specialist business support. You simply need to match the amount with your own funds.  The business support needs to be provided by an approved advisor listed in one handy Marketplace hosted by Enterprise Nation. Off to see my lawyer is an approved advisor too, so once you have your Growth Voucher, do feel free to call or email us.  Once you have been advised, you’ll be asked to take part in surveys to find out how the programme has helped you. It is as simple as that!

Details on how to apply:

There are around six stages in the Growth Voucher programme, depending on whether or not participants have been allocated a voucher.

Stage 1  Apply to join the programme on the gov.uk website.

Stage 2  Assessment of your advice needs, either by meeting with an adviser face-to-face or by completing an online questionnaire.

Stage 3: After completing the assessment, you will be given a suggestion about which area of strategic advice would be the most appropriate. You will be told, at this stage, whether or not you have been allocated a Growth Voucher.

Stage 4:You can then find a Growth Voucher adviser on the Enterprise Nation Marketplace.

Stage 5:Remember to agree on a price for the advice and check if it’s suitable to be subsidised using a Growth Voucher. Vouchers will cover up to half of the cost of paying for strategic advice up to a maximum of £2,000 (non-inclusive of VAT).

Stage 6: After receiving and paying for the advice, you then submit a claim for the subsidy. You have to provide evidence that the invoice has been paid and give details of the advice received. Claims will be processed on receipt and should be paid within 30 days.

NOTE: Growth Vouchers can only be used to obtain strategic advice that will help a business to grow. It will not subsidise activities such as building a new website or paying for membership of a professional body. DO check with your advisor before purchasing advice to ensure it qualifies for a subsidy.

Are you considering starting a business offering services to other businesses?

Friday, July 6th, 2012

It is no surprise that the rate of unemployment is increasing as companies are increasingly making their staff redundant in order to save on costs.  However, companies are still hiring consultants and freelancers – and this is one reason why so many skilled and enterprising people are opting for self-employment, providing services to a number of different companies instead of working in-house for just one.

Nigel Botterill (of Entrepreneur’s Circle) states, “There are now more opportunities for start-ups than ever before in history.  We know historically that the time when most millionaires are created is during a recession and just after.”  And James King (Founder of investment house Find Invest Grow) optimistically points out, “The government’s enterprise investment schemes are providing fantastic economic opportunities [and] creating fertile ground for new businesses to raise finance, especially when compared to investments in more traditional asset classes.”

However, we recommend the following:

  • Before providing your services to another business, make sure you complete any necessary credit checks and due diligence
  • If you are operating as a sole trader, you will be personally liable for debts, and for any claims made against you.  Off To See My Lawyer can help you draft your contracts in order to keep your potential liability to a minimum.
  • Your website will need to state any authorities which regulate your industry
  • Ensure you have appropriate insurance for your business

Developing Your International Potential – Exporting Success Programme

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Are you looking to expand your business overseas?  If your business is based in Greater London; has been trading for over one year; and employs less than 250 people, you will be eligible to apply for a programme which has been developed by North London Business to help businesses develop their international sales opportunities.

The programme comprises up to 12 hours of one to one advice with an Export Advisor, guidance and practical support to:

–          Explore new export markets;

–          Maximise your sales techniques to promote your products abroad;

–          Develop your website or portals for online sales, with minimum cost;

–          Prepare an effective export marketing strategy;

–          Understand export documentation and incoterms; &

–          Find distributors or agents abroad.

The programme is partly financed by the European Union, and is free for you to enrol.  However you will be expected to invest your time and resources on the project, and the 12 hours of support must be delivered within 3 months of your initial referral date.

If you are interested, please contact North London Business for an Exporting Success Enquiry/Referral Form on 020 8885 9203 and speak to Roya Jahanbin; or E-mail roya.jahanbin@northlondonbusiness.com

Clubbing for Entrepreneurs…

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The coincidence of the invention of cloud computing; the increase in locations offering free wifi; and the upward trend for flexible working, now means that the sight of people tapping away at their lap tops in a public place is a common sight.  Do you have a favourite café where you like to work?

Unsurprisingly, the hospitality industry has responded by developing a new type of venue for business people who don’t operate from fixed offices.  Two such examples are The Hub, based in EC1 and N1, where entrepreneurs can subscribe as members from £25 per month (http://www.the-hub.net/); and The Hospital Club in WC2, where annual membership costs £650 plus a joining fee of £250 (http://www.thehospitalclub.com/).  Both aim to create inspiring environments in which people can network and collaborate as well as work alone.

…The likes of the RAC and the Athenaeum have clearly had their day!

Will Singapore become the “entrepreneurship capital” of South East Asia?

Monday, May 28th, 2012

There are various reasons why entrepreneurship has not traditionally thrived in Asia.  Relatively speaking, US culture regards failure in business as a positive part of the learning process, and therefore Americans are more inclined to take risks.  Asian culture, however, is less forgiving of failure.  In addition, Hugh Mason (Chief Executive of Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI)) explains that the traditional method in Asian schools is “all about getting the right answer”, and that “being smart sometimes weighs against entrepreneurship”.

Traditionally Singapore has been considered by many in the business world as a gateway to South East Asia, as it represents a relatively small market of five million people.  Investors often choose to temporarily place their money in Singapore before investing in larger markets in the region such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.  However Angel investors and venture capital funds are increasingly seeking investment opportunities in Singapore itself.

A growing number of educational institutions are running entrepreneurship programmes and providing mentoring opportunities; and the Singaporean government are actively removing regulatory barriers in a bid to encourage entrepreneurship.  Ron Mahabir (found of Asia Cleantech Capital) states that “While the government has done a great job of loans and grant programmes, culturally it’s very difficult to push entrepreneurship very quickly.”  Change, however, is undoubtedly underway in Singapore.  In fact, according to the WorldBank, Singapore ranks at Number One in the world “for ease of doing business, and Number Four “for starting a business”.

Singapore-based JFDI is working in partnership with SingTel [a subsidiary of a major telecommunications company] to run an accelerator programme for start-ups from around Asia.  This program allocates start-up teams from around the South East Asia with mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and specialists for 100 days, after which the start-ups can pitch to investors.  Wong Meng Weng (who helped start JFDI) says, “I see Singapore as the technology and start-up capital of South East Asia, not unlike the US where you recruit from around the world and get them to come into Silicon Valley”.

The Recession can be Good for You!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Founded by husband and wife Juliette and Russel Joffe in 1998, the restaurant chain Giraffe has not only thrived throughout recent economic crises; rather, Mr Joffe insists the recession “has been positive for us”.  He states, “It has enabled us to review our strategy.  This is an opportune time to review your business – and aspects that you might forget in good times.”

The Joffes’ advice for not only surviving but possibly benefiting from times of austerity, are as follows:

Get best supply prices:

“We have gone back to some of our original mission statements; reviewing our staffing, talking to suppliers to get the best prices”

Run a tight ship, but don’t let this compromise the quality of your products or services:

“We don’t cut corners or cut costs.  Everyone has to run a tighter business today.  The ones that cut corners and costs are the ones that will suffer long-term because standards of service will decline.  You need to keep the investment and innovation going. It is important that people see you moving forward rather than stagnating.”

Give customers a good deal:

We have also been offering vouchers and deals. It’s the norm today. When people go out to eat, they think: ‘Where is there a voucher?’ We have been focusing on our service and offering customers the best value for money that we can”

We are producing a better bottom-line profit by running a better business. We haven’t let go of any staff as such, just increased sales and not overheads.”

Event – Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Going for Gold

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

This event is intended for existing small business owners who have a new idea for their business but aren’t sure how to take it to the next stage.

Led by entrepreneurs Stephen Frear and Mandy Haberman, the evening will provide support and advice about business strategy and sustainability; branding; intellectual property; product development; and marketing.  You will also find out about about a new business support programme “Innovating for Growth”.

The event will take place at The British Library Conference Centre on Wednesday 23 May 2012, 18.15 – 21.00; and costs £5 to attend.

In order to book a place, you can either contact the Box Office by telephoning: 01937 546546, or via the website: http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event131216.html