Funding a business can be a difficult and stressful period. There are many potential options that need serious consideration. Don’t overlook grant funding.
There are over 200 government grants available to UK businesses. These could be a great opportunity for your business as they often won’t need repayment or equity stakes. If you’re looking into this, we’ve got some tips for you. Here are Innovate UK’s essential advice for start-up grant funding.
Research Your Options
“Be bold – there are a wide range of grants available for projects that involve significant innovation. Think disruptive innovation, not incremental” – Paula Rogers-Brown, National Venturefest Network Manager.
Research is always the best place to start your search for grant funding. The Gov.uk site is a great resource for this. Find a full list of government grants, easily ordered by sector here. There are opportunities for both startups and established businesses.
It’s also worth considering regional and local opportunities as well as national. Often, funding will be available for businesses with specific geographical locations.
Remember, some sectors will attract more funding opportunities than others.
Check Your Eligibility
“Read the documentation fully and familiarise yourself with the scope and eligibility criteria” – Richard Awbery, Customer Support Executive at Innovate UK.
Once you’ve decided on a grant, you need to check your eligibility. Usually, grants will come with specific entry criteria. This is to ensure they only attract certain types of businesses. Be sure that you fit this before you waste time applying.
It’s important to be prepared to disclose accurate details on your business, including
1. Business Size
2. Business type
3. Funding you currently have in place
4. Reason for wanting the grant
5. How you”ll spend money
6. Industry you work in and where you position your business
Remember, some funding opportunities require match funding. Can you commit to this?
Prepare Fully Before You Apply
“Preparation at the bid stage really pays off, greatly improving the chances of success at the assessment stage and throughout the project” – David Elson, Innovation Lead at Innovate UK.
As with everything in business, preparation is key. Before you start, ensure you have a solid and relevant business plan to present. When applying for a grant, try tailoring your business plan like you would a CV. Are you able to provide evidence of your financial situation? Can you give accurate and realistic sales projections, cash flow and profit forecast details?
Look At the Alternatives
“Look for loans that are unsecured, so there’s no need to put forward any assets of guarantors to support an application” – David English, Chief Marketing Officer at Startup Loans Company.
If government grants aren’t for you, don’t fear. There are many other alternatives to think about. Soft loans, for instance, are usually an attractive option for small businesses. These can be government backed with low-interest rates and generous lending terms. Often you won’t have to pay these back until you start making a profit.
Consider other ways to secure funding. For instance, companies looking to export can attain support from UK Export Finance.
If you’re a young entrepreneur (between 18 and 30), you may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme.
If you’re interested in finding more essential business advice like this, you can subscribe to Innovate UK’s YouTube channel here.
Additionally, you can follow @InnovateUK on Twitter here.