Posted: Fri 3rd Jan 2014
At the end of January, the government will launch a Â£30 million research programme to test the value to small businesses of accessing professional advice. The subsidised business support will be delivered in the form of randomly allocated Growth Vouchers, enabling businesses to receive a 50% subsidy towards the cost of obtaining advice on 5 key topics that help businesses to grow.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions and details of how you can get involved in this exciting new programme.
Announced by the Chancellor in the 2013 Budget and championed by the PM's Enterprise Adviser, Lord Young, the Growth Vouchers programme will deliver subsidies to help businesses access the advice they need to help them grow. The majority of small businesses that participate in this programme will be allocated vouchers to spend on strategic advice from suppliers in the private sector, matched with their own funds, on one of 5 categories of support.
Growth Vouchers can be used to obtain strategic advice on any of the following categories:
Managing cashflow, late payments and negotiating finance
Developing skills and taking on staff
Improving Leadership and Management
Marketing, attracting and keeping customers
Making the most of digital technology
The Government will match your spend up to a maximum value of Â£2,000. This means you can spend as much or as little as you want on the advice but the maximum contribution from the Government will be Â£2,000. For example:
You spend Â£1,200 on support: Â£600 from you and Â£600 matched from government
You spend Â£4,000 on support: Â£2,000 from you and Â£2,000 from government
You spend Â£5,500 on support: Â£3,500 from you and Â£2,000 from government
On the Enterprise Nation marketplace you will find suppliers who meet the minimum standards requried to be suppliers as part of the Growth Vouchers programme and with whom you can spend your vouchers. As the small business owner, you pay the supplier and then claim back up to Â£2,000 from Government.
From the launch date of the programme, you will be able to apply on a government website. If you meet the criteria, you will then be guided through a diagnostic filter which will help you assess your business needs. The process will be done either on-line or through a face to face meeting with an adviser. After this, you will be notified if you have received a voucher. In the meantime, leave your email address at the bottom of this blog post so you can be kept updated.
You visit the Enterprise Nation marketplace and find a supplier/advisor with whom you can spend your voucher. Suppliers are members of Founding Trade & Professional Bodies so the quality of advice they offer is assured.
There will be two levels of supplier. If you meet the minimum standards required and are a full member of a trade or professional body, you can offer advice as part of the Growth Voucher programme. If you're not a member of a trade or professional body, you can still be a supplier - just not one with whom a small business can spend their Voucher. Bear in mind, there will be lots of businesses visiting the Marketplace to look for advisers so it's still worth being profiled on the marketplace and it's free to register.
Take a look at the list at the end of this blog post for an idea of the kinds of trade and professional bodies that meet Growth Voucher requirements. The list of organisations we have provided is just to give you an indication of the type of bodies we believe have the right mechanisms in place to ensure people get good quality of advice from their members.
We would be happy to include others as long as they actively manage the quality of services delivered by their members, have a code of conduct that protects consumers from bad practice, is widely recognised by the market for the sector they represent and whose members are suitably qualified to give advice to small businesses.
The marketplace will be open for business from 20th January, i.e. one week ahead of the full launch of the Growth Vouchers Programme.
Enterprise Nation responded to an open competition from BIS (Department of Business Innovation & Skills) to provide an on-line marketplace as part of the Growth Vouchers Programme. Through a pitch and presentation process, Enterprise Nation secured the opportunity to build the marketplace.
A government grant was offered to contribute towards marketplace build but Enterprise Nation opted instead to fund the project privately. The marketplace is being built and developed at no cost to the taxpayer and with support from seven top brands who are: Vodafone, Regus, Toshiba, EDF Energy, Simply Business, Citrix and Sage.
Please drop your email address at the bottom of this blog post and you'll be contacted in early January with an update and details to register if you'd like to become a supplier.
We would like to thank the following organisations that have been involved in the development of the Growth Voucher programme from the very start.
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing)
The Design Council
Chartered Management Institute