If you are running your own business and have not yet met Business Gateway, I highly recommend it! I spent an hour with them this morning and discovered they really are a wealth of knowledge and very much focused on helping start-ups grow and self-employed individuals flourish.
Here are my 5 take-aways from the meeting:
If you are under 30, you qualify for a grant of £1,000 - this is not a loan and does not have to be repaid - it’s yours to set up the biz with. It’s via Princes’s Trust and you can find out more information here at their web site. The Prince’s Trust also offers a huge amount of support in terms of business plan templates, finance advice, etc and are generally a good resource to start with (even if you’re over 30 - only difference is - no grant :-( ). They also offer loans (which you have to pay back) up to $5,000.
For general business loans they recommend startuploans.co.uk although at 6.2% the annual interest is quite high. This is Government backed and payback is over 5 years.
They have a great amount of networking events going on (generally 2 a week - that’s a lot of people you can get your face in front of!). Find out more information at their web site.
They offer really excellent workshops - it’s better to be on their newsletter list to get advance notice, however they advise me a lot of people sign up then are no-shows so chances are you if you go along you can get in. It’s good to keep an idea on the web site a couple of days before the event for cancellations too. When I say excellent, I mean really excellent - business development, e-commerce, book-keeping & tax, advertising, social media, networking & more!
HMRC also offer a lot of webinars that are very useful to start ups and self employed professionals. These webinars are 50-60 minutes long and cover all sorts of subjects (similar to above but do it from home!) and are live so you can interact with the speakers.
Finally, if you fancy one of the events at Business Gateway and find the Edinburgh branch is fully booked, it’s good to know they also do them in Livingston (West Lothian), Dalkeith (Midlothian) & Musselburgh (East Lothian) - these may work better because a) it’s easy to park and they are accessible by train b) the groups are smaller so you have more opportunity to ask questions and c) they do not tend to book up so quickly!
Hopefully this is helpful, please let us know if you have any questions!