Securing Funding for SMEs

Setting up a limited company is easy. Growing it is less so.

Business owners will tell you that success takes a combination of dedication, persistence, passion, skill and, of course, luck. It also takes money. Cold, hard investment towards the purchase of stock, premises, and staff. You can fund growth in several ways, from personal investment and bank loans, to lucrative crowdfunding campaigns.

One source often ignored is the support provided by funding organisations.

We recently visited the Haven Gateway Partnership’s ‘Financing Your Business Growth’ conference, and I can confirm that opportunities for funding are vast, yet relatively untapped.

The sheer breadth of available schemes is staggering. From match-funded grants to cover the cost of energy efficiency, to funded regional development programmes delivered courtesy of the European Union. When you combine the dozens of schemes on offer, the available cash value easily reaches the tens of billions.

Each scheme has specific criteria. The innovation vouchers provided by the University of Essex help fund tailored consultancy on small scale collaborative projects, whereas Innovate UK drive the science and technology innovations of tomorrow. Do you have an innovative process or product that you are desperate to evolve? We recommend you get in touch.

Above are just a handful of the schemes we were introduced to at the conference. If you are an SME looking for support, speak to your local funding organisations to be signposted to suitable opportunities. Surprisingly, the government is yet to develop a definitive library of funding options, so organisations such as the Best Growth Hub in Essex are an invaluable resource.

At Creative Quills, we are becoming increasingly more self-evaluative. From the continued development of our business plan, to the fine tuning of our marketing collateral, we are becoming a more tactically driven agency. To allow this to continue, we will need both guidance and funds. Knowing that there is funding and consultancy available to companies like ours is reassuring, and gives us the confidence to continue striving towards growth.

What are you looking to achieve?

A clear message from the conference was that applying for and securing funding has never been easier. However, acknowledge the processes. Application forms will vary in length, but the information they demand will inevitably overlap.

Funding organisations who have secured money to distribute to businesses are looking to be persuaded. The money is there, the criteria outlined. Provide a persuasive, informative argument as to why your needs apply.

This of course takes time, and reflection, which inevitably costs money. The system is very chicken and egg in that respect.

It is therefore critical that your business has a clear identity. You can’t simply be an aspiring venture. Instead, you must display knowledge and conviction. Have a strong understanding of who you are and ground yourself in that identity.

Next, show foresight. The purpose of government grants is to stimulate growth, both in business terms and economically. When a business expands, it creates more jobs and requires more suppliers. The government is repaid in income tax and positive employment figures. Crystallise in your application exactly how your company’s growth will help to facilitate these government aspirations. Demonstrate that passion and underline your dedication. Validate your proposition with value.

Lastly, live up to expectation. Deliver on what you promise, and the funding will keep on coming.

Your story is important

As we progress through the funding system, our own story will continue to evolve and progress. Do you have a story to tell? If so, we’d love to hear it.

Written by: Tom Broome