Posted: Fri 1st Jun 2012
The main thing is that many, many homegrown businesses don't require massive investment to get rolling. Often, it's a small but significant purchase that can make all the difference to their chances of success - a camera to take good product shots, a display stand for craft fairs, a little bit of professional refinement that turns an ok website into a really good one. In fact, a breakdown of the figures tells us a lot about the make-up of Britain's burgeoning micro-business sector and its needs:
Over nine months, we received 2,969 applications to the Fund
We accepted 1,850 and funded 120 businesses that received enough votes to get the funding they asked for.
36% of applicants were craft based or artisan businesses (including a good number of jewellery makers)
17 % were catering businesses (and, yes, there were plenty of cupcake makers!)
6% were technology-based or web-based businesses
4.5% were involved in business development
3% were wedding businesses
3% were arts-based (including performing arts)
2% were hair and beauty businesses
2% were social enterprises
The remainder were an incredibly varied assortment of firms, ranging from small farms to party planners and therapists.
The largest request, overwhelmingly, was for a piece of specialist equipment to help with their business. One in three applicants asked for this.
14% applied for money for website development
12% applied for money to finance advertising
10% wanted to purchase stock
9% wanted cash to pay for printed marketing materials
5.5% needed money for office space
4% wanted help with training course expenses
4% were looking for photographic equipment
3% wanted to cover general start-up costs
2.5% wanted to pay for a stall at an event
Fewer than 1% of applicants were appealing for money for travel, branding or employees.
Almost half of successful applications (45%) were for a specific piece of specialist equipment. This was followed by printed marketing materials (12%) and website development (10%). The next most successful application was for photographic equipment (8.5%), which goes to show just how important good images are to modern businesses which are likely to either market themselves or sell their products online.
We've learned that we're lucky enough to live at a time when there's an incredibly varied and vibrant small business sector. All the official figures show that more and more people are doing it for themselves and turning their passion, hobby or talent into a viable business. We've learned that the web is incredibly important to contemporary businesses, but that you haven't lost sight of the value of more traditional forms of marketing (such as leaflets and advertising). But above all, we've learned that it doesn't take a lot to make a big difference. It doesn't cost tens of thousands to get a small enterprise off the ground and the dream of self-sufficiency isn't beyond the reach of most. This is something we've always preached at Enterprise Nation and we'll continue to do so - it's core to our belief that anyone, given the right knowledge and support, can start a business and earn an independent income. So thank you for supporting Fund101 so far! Simon Wicks, Enterprise Nation editor
Photo credit: Stuart Pilbrow