Business in the spotlight
As the wheels of industry start to slowly turn again (hallelujah) and businesses begin to return to some kind of normality following the coronavirus crisis, we’d like to introduce you to the Business Gateway Growth Hub. Some of you may already know them, but for those that don’t, they are a one-stop shop for businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire who are looking for support/advice/guidance/access to grants – but might not know where to turn to first. Certainly, we at FU have been in that position and have found them super-useful.
In a nutshell:
The Business Gateway is a team of 11 business advisers with industry expertise, led by Growth Hub Manager, Jon Egley. They provide one-to-one, tailored support and guidance usually starting with a frank, open and honest discussion with the business owner or manager.
The Covid-19 crisis has left many business owners and self-employed workers reeling and their adviser team has been busy supporting them over the last three months, some more intensely than others. The Growth Hubs across the East Midlands have also come together creating specialist webinars including the RESTART programme, to support businesses to deal with, and in time, move on from the pandemic.
How you can benefit:
The service is free and impartial, first and foremost. It’s part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and, as part of a national network of Growth Hubs, their service is also funded by government. It’s run in partnership with Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP). In basic terms, this means you can trust they are not a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ kind of service and you should be confident the information you get is of a high standard, unbiased and commercially focussed.
Jon Egley comments: “It’s our job as a growth hub to know what the business support landscape looks like and what support is currently out there. This means you don’t have to spend hours trawling the internet looking for what you need, you can concentrate on looking after your business. It simply starts with a call to our frontline advisers.”
Pre Covid-19, the service was focussed on helping companies that wanted to grow and whilst this has not changed, the emphasis, right now, is on restarting and recovery; finding a path back to where they were and where they need to be going. In essence, whatever the business needs, they’re there to listen, guide and help.
Access to grants and other finance:
There have been a number of financial support schemes launched by the government during the last few months, and these are being updated regularly. The Business Gateway website is a good source of information to see what Covid-19 support is out there from the government, your local authority and other support providers. Instead of trawling a million sites – some of which are contradictory or incorrect, it’s all here. And official. In addition you can find out about all the grants, loans or finance available to your business, particularly if you are looking to diversify, as many companies have had to recently. For example, the Business Growth Grant offers between £2,000-£25,000 of capital funding, providing 35% of project costs. But that’s one of many and the team can signpost you to all the financial support available through local and national schemes, too.
Changing to suit differing needs:
Like with FU and this very newsletter service, many businesses have had to adapt to the changing environment whether that’s moving to an online service, offering takeaway services for pubs or restaurants or diversifying into new product areas altogether. As a result, so too have the Business Gateway. Afterall, adaptation is a key element of ongoing survival.
Their team of advisers aren’t doing face-to-face meetings at the moment, obvs, but advice and support continues – mostly over the telephone or virtually, if you prefer. Their event speakers and consultants, sourced following a thorough procurement process, now provide their knowledge and expertise through a series of free webinars covering topics such as pricing, strategy, planning, marketing, branding, human resources and personal wellbeing. These webinars are informal and friendly, providing a chance for you and your employees to learn, share experiences and apply the information to your business. The webinars are listed on their website along with a host of business webinars from partners and other support organisations. We joined one last week and have to admit it gave us a lot of useful insights and food for thought as to how we ‘repackage’.
You can also sign up for their regular e-newsletters to be kept informed of the latest business support offers, funding and events at www.bizgateway.org.uk/subscribe
Overall, every business owner will have had a different experience during this crisis and although they are a one-stop shop, per se, they understand one size doesn’t fit all – and that’s why we’re featuring them this week.
We asked them for one final comment: “Our message to you is this; you are not and have never been alone. The Business Gateway is here, grab hold and let’s do this together”.
*Featured image pictures Jon Egley