If you follow UKStartups on Twitter @StartupinUK, you probably know about this weeks Q&A session. We had a lot of interesting questions come to use from our followers and onlookers.
One question that seemed to be reoccurring is “how can I get free government funding for my small business?”
Before we get into that, let’s break that question up into a few different sections.
What is government funding?
Government funding is provided through the UK government, it’s various agencies and funding schemes. These funding agencies create the different schemes (over 600 different ones) in order to help grow the British economy by creating jobs and interest in small business. Government funding is available, but it may not be available for everyone. Certain conditions need to be met before you can obtain funding. There are different forms of government funding which include; government grants, government loans, tax break, relocation incentives and consulting services.
Is government funding really free?
The term “free money” comes to mind when somebody mentions government funding, but in reality, the only free money is potential a government grant. However don’t be confused, as some government grants may not be 100% free money, but they may have specific conditions. When applying for government funding, you will not have to pay to get the money – however you may be asked to contribute (like a down payment), or that you put up a percentage…etc Again, this depends on the funding scheme you are applying to. Some schemes may simply ask you to fill out a form, send it in (meet the requirements) and apply – in order to get the funding.
Why do some places charge for government funding?
If you are not able to find government funding information on your own (nobody blaming you as it’s a lot of work), you can turn to 3rd party sources and government funding consultants. These places do charge. We here at UKStartups.org actually fit into that category. Our Funding Database is part of our membership and provides you access to all available funding schemes, plus funding application review service and access to our experts. So why charge when it’s free, right? Well, you can always go on your own and try it yourself. The entrepreneurs we deal with rather not spend a week or two or a month looking for schemes to apply to, with no guidance or extra help. Thus a 3rd party “funding database” is very beneficial. Otherwise your other option is a consultant who takes a percentage fee of your government funding received. If this is the way you wish to go, as it sounds appealing (paying for results), do keep in mind that the government does not allow this and that the consultant you work with is legally not allowed to ask you for a percentage of the funding you obtain (but will ask for your own money), as soon as the “funding approval” happens.
The reason for this is that when you apply for funding, you are applying for a government scheme that only provides funding for the needs that you have (they are not giving you money to pay a consultant), so this would have to be done out of your own pocket prior to receiving the funds (which may take months at times).
How do I get government funding?
Simple. The first step is to ensure that you have a business plan created, that you know what you need funding for – and from that point, simply find the funding schemes which sounds like may fit your needs and ensure you meet all of the criteria. From that point, it’s simply a waiting game until your funding application is viewed, reviewed and processed.
What do I need to get government funding?
Each funding schemes has a different set of rules, and in order to know these rules you need to know the schemes first. Finding the funding schems is the most difficult part as there are over 600 different funding schemes across the country for various regions, various industries and various funding needs.
Once you locate the funding scheme you believe is a right fit for your small business, follow the criteria and apply!