A guest article from Innovate UK…
Establishing a grant can be an extremely attractive option for any business. With over 200 available in the UK, and with many not requiring equity stakes or repayments, it’s an obvious choice when looking for additional funding.
But how do you go about finding the right one for your business and what can you do to help increase your chances of qualifying? We’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you secure your UK grant.
Explore Your Options
You’ll need to look around at all different types of grants in order to find the one that best fits your business. Make sure to be aware of both regional and national opportunities, as some funding is only available for certain geographical locations.
You can view an extensive list of government grants here by choosing your industry type and browsing the available selections. Be aware that some sectors attract more support than others. For example, manufacturing and tech businesses have significant financial interest, and will have a more diverse range of options as a result.
You may also be allowed access to the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) programme. These schemes are run by universities, chambers of commerce and local authorities. Funded through awarded RGF money, they can offer grants or loans to suitable business, and are exceptionally useful for business growth if you are unable to find additional funding from other sources.
Ensure You Are Eligible
There’s nothing worse than wasting time and resources applying for a scheme you have no chance of securing. To avoid later frustration, ensure that you’ve read all grant scheme documents fully and are familiar with the eligibility criteria. Many applications have specific conditions that you’ll need to be aware of.
You’ll also be required to provide information such as your business size, type, previous funding history, reasons for applying and your industry sector. An appreciation of the process is also essential.
Make certain that you’re aware of grants that look to match your investment – you’ll need to have funds in place before applying to these.
Preparation is Paramount
It’s common knowledge that preparation pays off, and grant funding is no exception.
Applications require considerable amounts of information, so you’ll need a strong business plan, realistic sales projections, cash flow and profit/loss forecasts in place before approaching any scheme.
Outline how you’ll meet the requirements of your application. Be detailed and demonstrate a business plan that’s appropriate for the specific grant you’re seeking. Outline what success means for your business and show an extensive understanding of your product and service.
Some grants are time-limited, so apply as quickly as possible to increase your chances of maximum funding.
Be Aware of the Alternatives!
A grant isn’t necessarily the best option for every business. If this is the case, don’t panic! There are plenty of alternatives that can help.
For example, ‘soft’ loans offer lower interest rates and more relaxed terms than other lending options. They can reach a maximum of £25’000 and are government-backed. Often you’ll only need to repay once you’re making a profit, and access to free business support and mentoring is also available.
Useful Schemes and Sites
UK Export Finance is ideal for companies looking to export overseas, providing independent business development and economic advice as well as a range of financing terms.
The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme focuses on younger applicants aged between 18 and 30. Offering training, mentoring and funding support, it’s worth viewing if you’re in need of backing.
Looking for examples of other businesses and how they approached their grant opportunities? The Small Business website has a wide range of case studies on positive growth from funding and offers guidance, tips and recommendations on how to ensure success.