The Most Pressing Concern for any Small Business
For most entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs, the most pressing concern on their list surrounds quality advice and guidance as they find their feet and start to expand their operations. Most new business people will find that they are offered a vast amount of guidance, tips, personal advice and other steers from a variety of people - but these can be of variable quality, not necessarily suitable for the individual's circumstance, or coloured by the advice-giver's own experience and perceptions, whether good or bad.
For this reason, many new businesses turn to commercial sources of advice and guidance. These have the reassurance of objectivity, qualification and quality, but they may be expensive. Consultants can be beyond the financial reach of many small start-ups and sole traders, particularly highly qualified consultants with advanced qualifications in their field.
Access To Free Business Advice
Happily, there is a third way and that is to access free business advice. Many business people are often surprised when they discover what free business advice is available from a source of highly regarded commercial, public, government, third sector and private sources. These services are often delivered via a series of local economic partnerships throughout the UK regions. Each city or regional area will group its services in different ways and run with different models, but generally, there is a body that amalgamates a series of regional business advice and service packages for eligible businesses within a certain catchment area. This might be start-ups, SMEs of a certain size, high growth businesses, or existing firms operating within specific sectors.
Free Business Advice Services
A range of free business advice and service offers will be available, depending on your status, circumstances and requirements. These might include services such as access to finance, subsidised training, regulatory and accredited support, business support such as a business advice centre, overseas trading advice offered by the government's own UKTI, green and carbon friendly business consultancy and cost savings offered through third sector partnerships. There may also be an array of networking opportunities to meet other businesses, suppliers, customers and stakeholders. Business advice might be offered via a series of different approaches - perhaps a targeted training course for the senior business leaders, a mentoring or coaching scheme for the strategic decision makers, a free consultancy session with a local service provider, a seminar or course on business planning or sales for a particular sector, or a networking event to meet more experienced people within the industry.
Mentoring and coaching schemes are particularly valued for advice, as they allow fledgling businesses and entrepreneurs to link up with experienced business people who have already made their mark and who are now looking to help other start-ups to grow and be successful. The first step is often the hardest, so seek out your local service provider, or ask around for advice and make contact. You'll usually be asked to complete an application process and then will be given a business advisor, who will work to understand your particular requirements and advise on the services available. Most businesses are pleasantly surprised to discover what's available out there and discover what they can benefit from without needing to spend a fortune on their development. It's a valuable step, well worth taking if you're serious about taking your business to the next level.
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