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How to find support for your business

Starting your own business can be an exciting but daunting journey, full of ups and downs. You will need support from many sources to ensure that your business thrives. It can be difficult to know where to start in finding support for your business idea but there are plenty of resources available to guide and support start-up businesses in all areas. We have outlined below a few good places to start. 

Only just got an idea? Take a look at our setting up your own business resource. 

Research your finance options

Research and understand your finance options as soon as possible in your business journey. You might be eligible for a Government start-up loan or you may be able to apply for grants and awards of money being directed towards your business area. 

Firstly, a good place to start looking into your finance options is the UK Government website where you can access free support, advice and financial help from government-backed schemes like Innovate UK.

“I applied for and won a Flying Starter award from the Masood Entrepreneurship Centre (MEC) at The Alliance Manchester Business School. I used this award to commission the Code-Switch logo and website. I attended multiple business sessions and courses at MEC and signed up for a support scheme from the Manchester Growth Hub where I received mentoring during the early days of my business.”

Hellen Parra-Flórez, Founder & Director, Code-Switch Consultants

Consider applying for an Accelerator Programme

Secondly, Accelerator Programmes are a further option. These are designed to help support and connect startups with resources and capital to grow quickly via intensive and time-limited programs. Amongst other things, the program usually includes: 

  • A highly selective admissions process 
  • Joining a cohort with other startups 
  • Peer to peer learning 
  • Business mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs 
  • Facilitate networking
  • Educational workshops

For example, Alderley Park offers a couple of accelerator programmes to support early stage and growing life science businesses. To see an example of an accelerator programme and for more information, visit their site.  

Additional links you may find useful:

Use your University

“Within the University, there were tangible, small pots of money that I could go and apply to and get financial support for what I was doing that way; hunting those out and turning over – leaving no stone unturned […] the tech-transfer team at Oxford University innovation. They were a huge help and continue to be a huge help. They sit on our company board. I’d say my colleagues in the division, and at Wadham where I was working, it was a bifold existence at Oxford. They just accommodated me and were encouraging.

Dr John Miles, Founder and CEO, Inkpath Ltd

Finally, Universities can often be great sources of support for those within a university who have a business idea. IP and Commercialisation teams can help you with everything from finding funding to legal support. Have a look on your university website to see which teams are available at your institution.

For more detailed information on this, visit our University spin outs: what, why and how resource. 

Network, network, network

“Sometimes you might have an interesting conversation and that will be it. Other times, it can end up being a longer conversation and sometimes it can end up being something that goes on forever. I put out a Facebook post in one group. Somebody responded to it and we got chatting. We then jumped on the phone with each other. And then a year later on, we’re now looking at becoming business partners in a new venture. That was just from a post that I think I typed on the way to the car one day.  

So it’s just all these little conversations, you never know where they’ll go. And I just think networking, it just isn’t as scary as it sounds and it is completely vital to everything you do.”

Danielle Bodicoat, Medical Statistics and Writing Consultant and Founder, Simplified Data

Networking is vital to any career but especially important when looking for sources of funding, clients and mentoring as a new entrepreneur. In the early stages of starting your own business you might want to consider particularly: 

  • Researching and joining networks and/or member organisations to meet businesses and contacts in your start up area. Networks and membership organisations will usually promote and run conferences, seminars and events that provide opportunities for networking and learning. An example of one of these is BioNow a not-for-profit membership organisation supporting the biomedical, pharma and life sciences sectors across the North of England. 
  • Finding a business mentor. Being able to talk to a qualified and honest expert in business growth will help you learn and make more savvy business decisions. 
  • Joining a co-working space. Initially working in a shared space will give you the opportunity to meet other professionals with the possibility of connecting with other entrepreneurs.

“While I was freelancing, I started working in a work hub. I live in London and there was a lot of building work in my building […] And I discovered a work hub and I’ve moved to two different ones since then. And it’s a great place to get a bit of company and they often offer some kind of business advice as well.”

Anna Sharman, Founder and Director, Cofactor 

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