If you are like most small business owners or startup entrepreneurs in the UK, at one point in your business career you’ve looked or heard about government funding. The British government funds small businesses all across the nation in various industries and for various purposes, but before you apply for small business government funding there are a few things you have to make sure you do.
Before you go out there and start applying for government funding schemes there are a few things you need to know first in order to ensure you’re not just wasting your time, nor the funding agencies time by applying for something that isn’t for you and your business.
So are you eligible for government funding?
Government funding is offered through various funding agencies all across the nation. Some agencies are local, regional and some are national and the criteria one must meet are all different for each funding agency and funding scheme. So to answer your question if your small business is eligible for funding, you would first have to know which funding schemes you are applying to.
This takes us into the exact topic of this article “What to do before you apply for small business government funding!”.
Before you can apply to any small business government funding scheme there are a few key points you need to know and understand:
- Be sure to have a business plan ready.
- Be sure to know how much money you need.
- Be sure to know what you need the money for.
- Be sure to look for funding close to home, for your specific industry and for your specific needs only.
- Be sure to apply on time.
These five points will not only ensure you aren’t wasting any time when applying to government funding schemes but they will also help you get closer to being funded.
You will need a business plan in order to send in to the funding agency when applying for funding. Your business plan will tell the funding agency who you are, what your goals are, what your current situation is, what your business is all about, your funding needs, how much you need and much more. Ultimately your business plan is your greatest weapon when applying for government funding which means you can’t afford to apply for funding without having a business plan.
Knowing how much funding you need is the next key point you need to note before you apply for funding. The last thing that a government agency wants to see on an application for funding is a range (£100,000 to £500,000), a guessed figure or as much as possible. When applying for funding, the funding agencies want to see that you as the business owner have put thought into your needs as well as your funding applications. With a proper business plan you will be able to have figures that will help you determine how much funding you actually need before you apply.
It’s important to remember to apply only for what you need and break down your funding needs to be as specific as possible.
Know what you need funding for! Before you apply for funding, just like knowing how much money you need, you will need to know what you need it for. Every single day that we deal with small business owners here at UKStartups we hear the same thing over and over from hundred of startups – “I need money to startup”. Okay great, what do you need money for?
Do you need money to develop your product or a website? Do you need money to hire and train your staff? Do you need money to purchase tools and equipment? Do you need money to pay for wages? Do you need money to rent a facility or do renovations? Or maybe you need money to pay for advertising, improve your cash flow…maybe all of it?
The more specific you are in your funding needs the more likely you are to find a funding scheme that will be right for you. If you are just general and state that you “need money for your business”, you won’t get very far.
When looking for funding it’s important to look at only for the schemes that are available to you. Most business owners start with schemes in their region (but keep in mind that a lot of schemes exist out of region as well that can be applied to your business – in many industries). The few big things that help a business narrow down funding scheme include their location, industry and funding needs. With these you are narrowing down a list of a thousand to a select few schemes that you will be able to apply to.
Applying on time is also a critical thing to keep in mind before you send your funding applications in. If the funding deadlines are shown and you are a few days away, most likely you will be wasting your time and sending in your application. The sooner you apply to a funding schemes the more chances you have of obtaining funding.
Without further delay, after you are aware of the above five points you are ready to apply for government funding.
Keep in mind to have a business plan created which will help you figure out what you need funding for, how much you need and will prepare you in your application process. Once you determine the schemes that are right for you, be sure you are applying before the deadlines!