The Enterprise Nation Marketplace is part of the government's £30m Growth Vouchers programme, which is a research project to test how best to help small businesses grow through the use of subsidised business advice.
The Growth Vouchers programme will deliver support to up to 20,000 small businesses in England, focussing on small businesses who have never sought business advice before. Businesses looking for advice can apply to the programme online and they will be randomly assigned to an online questionnaire or face-to-face business advice assessment.
Some businesses will be randomly chosen to get a voucher for up to £2,000 to help pay for business support in one of the specialist areas. You’ll have to match the amount with your own funds. You can then find a Growth Voucher adviser to work with on the Enterprise Nation Marketplace; you then pay for the services in full and request 50% back from the government.
The Growth Vouchers programme is available to small businesses in England who have been trading for at least one year, have 49 employees or less and have not sought strategic business advice before in the last three years (full eligibility and terms and conditions here).
The Growth Vouchers programme is a trial to find out how strategic advice impacts on businesses performance. If you'd like to take part in the programme and work with businesses looking for subsidised advice, you can register as an adviser on the Enterprise Nation Marketplace.
You'll need to give strategic advice that helps small businesses grow, be a member of a trade or professional body and have professional indemnity insurance. There's a full list of requirements here.
Note: When you apply to become a Growth Voucher adviser, a member of the Enterprise Nation team will need to verify your account. To speed things up, you can send scans or documents to prove your trade or professional body membership and professional indemnity insurance to email@example.com
The Growth Voucher programme will match small businesses seeking advice with businesses that give in-depth strategic advice in 5 key areas:
Raising finance and managing cash flow
'Finance and Cashflow'
Advice in this area covers the overall financial health of your business. It may focus on improving cash flow management and forecasting, credit control and late payments, or on how to negotiate with banks and other funding sources. The advice could be used to develop a financial strategy for growth, raise additional finance and/or secure new investors, or to improve your own financial management skills.
Recruiting and developing your staff
'Expanding your workforce'
Advice in this area aims to ensure that you have the right people with the right skills to help your business grow. It may focus on how to hire, train and manage staff while ensuring that your business complies with employment law and regulations. The advice could be used for undertaking a skills audit, workforce planning, setting up performance management systems and rewards, and identifying the appropriate organisational structures and processes to support the needs of your business.
Improving leadership and management skills
'Leadership and management'
Advice in this area aims to help business owners develop their strategy and vision, and how to build and improve the leadership and management potential of themselves and their team. The advice could be used for assessing capabilities, identifying management development needs, improving management practices, reviewing business strategy, planning for the future and managing change.
Marketing, attracting and keeping customers
'Marketing and customer service'
Advice in this area aims to help businesses develop effective marketing strategies, and to ensure that they provide the right product/service at the right price, in the right place, at the right time. The advice could be used for market research, targeting existing and potential customers, using social media to extend your reach into new markets , developing pricing strategies and closing sales.
Making the most of digital technology
'IT and web'
Advice in this area aims to help businesses maximise the potential of digital tools and technologies. It may focus on using them for product development and market testing, customer service and marketing, or building online sales. The advice could be used for addressing the risks of cyber-attacks, or exploring how digital technologies can be used to reduce costs, improve productivity or quality control.
For more advice on choosing and managing an adviser, read this guide on the government website.
If you've received a Growth Voucher, remember you can only use it to pay for strategic advice with an adviser within the category in which you've been recommended. Growth Vouchers can't be used to subsidise practical advice on how to tackle specific tasks relating to running a business, but should be spent on strategic advice that will lead to growth.
Businesses that have been given a voucher should check with their Delivery Partner before purchasing advice to ensure it qualifies for a subsidy. If there's a conflict of interest, e.g. you have received strategic advice from them in the past or they are part of your business, your claim for the Growth Voucher subsidy may be declined.
The Growth Voucher programme is a pioneering government research project, run as a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). It aims to test how external advice can help small businesses overcome barriers to growth and examine what role Government should play in this space.
All businesses taking part in the programme will be participating in the largest business research project ever initiated by government. It will produce real comprehensive evidence on which future policy will be built, as well as benefitting the businesses involved.
That's okay! You can still use the Enterprise Nation Marketplace to find a business adviser or become a business adviser - you just won't be able to use a Growth Voucher.
Once you sign up and sign in, you can edit your profile from the 'My account' menu (click 'Edit account details'). The more information you add to your profile, the more likely it is that someone will work with you.
Remember to add a profile picture of yourself and a logo for your business, as well as an address, company number and VAT number, if registered. It's also useful for businesses to see when your company was founded and how many employees you have, if any.
Reviews must be based on recent experience of using the advisers’ services. Advisers cannot review themselves or their colleagues, and reviews cannot be left for business associates or personal contacts. We will be checking the feedback given, if anyone is found to be misusing the system, we reserve the right to remove their listing.
If you've received a review that you'd like to question, you can report it via your profile, and a member of the Enterprise Nation team will investigate.
The quickest way to get support for the Enterprise Nation Marketplace is to use the 'Support' tab at the top of the website - or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Growth Voucher programme itself, visit www.gov.uk or call 0300 4562210.