Women in Business
Geoff Tyler explains why finance may be closer than you think...
Last month I discussed the apparent paradox that the banks being accused of not lending to businesses reply that it is because businesses are not applying for loans – at least not as many loans for as much money as before the recession.
The jury is still out as to the verdict but in the meantime, if you find the bank’s doors closed to you there are other solutions that might work. Trouble is, they take a bit of finding.
I have covered here before the possibilities of benefiting from finance houses offering factoring or invoice discounting – not quite synonymous but check back to our issue of March this year for chapter and verse. Generally speaking these houses are still very approachable because it is not you they are taking on as a risk so much as the diversity of your customers and clients.
The drawback is that, though useful, finance against outstanding invoices can be limited – not enough to pay for that huge expansion plan you have in mind, for instance – and can arrive a bit late in the day – after you have incurred the cost of buying in stock and materials to undertake the order or contract. Still, it is well worth exploring if you have not already done so. Just Google Factoring and up they’ll come.
The other sources of finance I have in mind are run one way and another by government agencies and they can take some finding because, in typical civil service fashion, I find their marketing is, frankly, terrible.
Because so much of this dosh is handed out on a regional basis and it takes even longer to ferret around through all the UK regions, I shall take my own region – East Anglia – as my example. The offerings in your own neck of the woods may be slightly different but not by all that much. What I put in here will send you off in the right direction.
The East of England Development Agency is one place I would start pestering. Every part of the UK has a development agency covering it and though they vary in approach the following will have equivalents among them all.
The development agencies’ Solutions for Business umbrella covers a collection of schemes each targeted at a specific type of business need, sometimes interpreted in the light of its potential benefit for the community.
For instance, the Grant for Business Investment scheme offers grants for sustainable business investment and job creation projects, especially in disadvantaged areas within the development agency’s remit. If yours is a small business, you do not have to be in an officially designated Assisted Area but if you are, it helps. If you manage a huge enterprise, the rules are applied more tightly. An enquiry to your local development agency them will tell you if you are in such an area because it is not always obvious.
The grants are there to help local businesses to make investments to set up, expand, diversify and modernise. Typically, a grant is offered to support the acquisition of key assets, such as buildings, plant and machinery and to support the creation of new jobs or to safeguard existing ones. It can be used, for example, to launch an entirely new business, or to modernise, expand or re-organise an existing business, perhaps to upgrade a business by introducing innovative new technology or processes or in some other way to take a new product from development to production.
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Britain's Best Boss announced!
Debbie Hinton, County Audiology Services Manager for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, is this year’s winner of the prestigious Britain’s Best Boss competition run by work-life balance charity Working Families and supported by BT.
Debbie was nominated by several of her 48-strong team, who provide services for people with hearing problems in four hospitals and several satellite clinics across Worcestershire.
They were all very appreciative of Debbie’s “can do” attitude to flexibility which meant that some were able to vary their hours in order to pick up their children from school or nursery, another had time off to nurse her husband after surgery, while others care for elderly relatives or participate in sports.
Few of the team work standard hours and this has meant they have been able to offer clinics early and late in the day and on Saturdays, which is much appreciated by patients.
Debbie’s nominators described her as “kind, caring but firm”, “willing to listen to her staff” and “always very encouraging and urging us to be the best we can, so that our patients get the best and friendliest service possible”. Kay Tallack spoke for many when she added: “Of all the bosses I have worked for, Debbie is by far the BEST.”