Imagine ending the year (2017) saying “I want 2018 to be the best year of my life and I want to start my small business!”, and just days later in 2018, getting a call from the government funding agency telling you that your business has just been approved for 2018 government funding.
This is the case for Tanner from Leeds, England who successfully applied and obtained funding from not 1, not 2, but three different government funding schemes totaling £335,750.
We were excited to be able to share Travis’s success story here with you guys in order to help jumpstart your search for funding and hopefully motivate you to start your own small business.
Here is a summary and a brief transcript of the questions/answers during the interview with Tanner:
Tell us about your small business..
We are a home renovation company. But we are also very different in our approach as to how we get everything done. While most reno companies will charge an arm and a leg, we created a system that uses the old technique of bartering in order to exchange services for other services. Through this method we’ve build a network of over 20,000 members who are in our barter network and who exchange services daily.
Why did you decide to start this type of business?
We were in construction industry for a few years before branching out on our own, and one of the things we kept seeing often is our customers telling us; I do this for a living, how about I do it for you for a discount (on the construction work). I sell cars, i’ll give you a discount, or I am a tax accountant, let’s exchange, or I own a restaurant, here are discounted meals..etc So pretty much that’s how the idea was born.
What were the issues you were faced with starting up?
Our issue initially was that we didn’t have enough people in on the service. In order for it to work we needed more and more individuals and business owners signing up. So really we needed to develop an application or website and advertise. Money was the issue.
How did you hear about UKStartups.org?
We found UKStartups.org through a google search for government funding to help us pay for some of our marketing expenses and development expenses. This was a while back, a little over a year ago.
How did you benefit from our Small Business Startup Portal?
We initially registered for UKStrartups.org to use the business plan builder tool as a lot of funding places and even banks needed a business plan. It was after a year that we decided to look for funding (government funding that is), and the funding database you guys offered was perfect.
How did you know which funding schemes to apply to?
We used the tool. The Funding Database. It was fairly simple, and we had a little bit of help from your support team and the funding advisers. Once valuable piece of advice they gave us was to break down our search into smaller amounts and seek funding for more purposes versus just saying we need x amount for our business.
What was the process of applying like?
Once we knew which schemes to apply to and after using the funding database it was pretty easy. The applications offered by these schemes are easy to follow as they instruct you what to do. Your funding application review service was also very helpful. We had to provide some financial projections and our business plan – as well as our presentation which made it exciting.
How much funding did you receive and for what?
We actually applied to 7 different schemes and got over £212,000 in funding total. The largest funding amount was for £45,000 which was a low interest loan to help us develop our infrastructure, our website and app and to hire our team of experts. The other was for purchasing land and doing some renovations to our location as well as getting funding to improve our cash flow in the initial stage. We got two different loans and one government grant. Now we are on the list of another few schemes which we applied for.
What is your next step?
We are looking to further grow our network and our plan seems to be working. Now that we got the money for it all we can make sure our year is of to a good start. We are starting work on our facility, on hiring people and building up our website and app.
What is your advice to others starting up?
The best advice we can give to a startup is to create a good business plan that details every step of the way. Instead of thinking later what you should do and what you shouldn’t do, it’s much easier to work off of a task list. A business plan is the key to a successful business as well as the way to get government funding.