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Starting a new business is difficult. In an age when empty shops are commonplace and just finding a job is a nightmare, it can be a deeply unattractive prospect. However, it’s not the end of the world just yet: you may be eligible for grants and other support depending on what you do and where you are in the country.
-If you’re a manufacturing business, you’re in good company: the BBC reports that three quarters of UK manufacturers plan to launch new products in the next three years. What’s more, the Manufacturing Advice Service is a great moneysaver: they can help you to grow your business, reduce your waste and become more energy efficient. Similarly, the Smart scheme offers various grants to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Provided you have less that 250 employees and turnover of under €50 million, you’re eligible for grants of up to £250,000, to be used in R&D projects.
-Young entrepreneurs are eligible for start-up loans from the Start-Up Loans Company. The criteria are easy to meet: you must be between 18 and 30, live in England and want to start up a business. The company will work with you to develop your idea and then present it to a panel where you’ll give your pitch. The average loan is about £4,500, but you need to pay back the loan within five years and it comes with a 6% interest rate, so think carefully about whether or not this is right for you.
-While not a direct grant, Enhanced Capital Allowances could be a moneysaver for your business. The schemes provides tax breaks for companies that buy environmentally friendly products, such as certain brands of taps and fridges. The resulting tax deductions cover the full cost of the equipment you buy.
-Your local chamber of commerce could be an invaluable source of support. As an example, The Chamber (covering, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire) offers help in writing a business plan. It also offers a range of funding schemes for businesses at different stages of development: the Business Enterprise Fund is ideal for new businesses, providing loans of up to £100,000. However, it comes with a fixed interest rate of 7-14%, and requires a business plan and personal guarantee.
It is perhaps important to remember that grants and support do not come without caveats. Make sure you completely understand the nature of any support on offer before you accept it. If, however, you’re willing and able to meet the demands of a scheme, it could be a vital part of kickstarting (or growing) your business.