Daneile Moore, Communications and Marketing Officer at Leeds City Region AD:VENTURE Programme, looks at the importance of seeking outside help when starting or scaling up a business.
“In my role as communications and marketing manager for AD:VENTURE, I regularly work with clients to develop case studies and press releases that celebrate the success of our start-ups and scale-ups; and, of course, to publicise the huge variety of support that’s available through funded programmes like ours.
When speaking to clients, there’s one thing that commonly crops up. I have to admit, it still surprises me.
Business founders and owners often don’t realise how much they can benefit from external business support programmes, or that they’re free.
It’s important to point out that these programmes are free to the business as a result of funding that can come from a variety of sources - not because the offer is of low, or no, value.
Compounding the issue is that the nature of a new or growing business sees the owner often snowed under as they struggle to keep all their fragile plates spinning. They don’t reach out for help because they’re too busy to do so. They don’t know if it will be worth it. They already have a lot to think about.
We get that.
However, these are exactly the reasons why they should reach out for help.
We’re experiencing some very tough times. I’m not claiming that business support services represent a magic wand that will fix everything we currently face. They can help with a lot of it, though, and they can give you free, impartial advice and information that will save you time and money.
After all, as a business owner, your time IS money.
Here is a quote from an AD:VENTURE client that I think sums up how valuable business support can be:
“We expected some hints and tips, but what we got was free, professional business consultancy that helped to shape the future direction of our organisation.”
Business founders, when asked to give advice to someone in their position, will commonly say, “Take all the help you can get. Surround yourself with people who know different things to you. Don’t try and do everything.”
Why, then, do so many business owners still shy away from asking for help? It’s certainly not a weakness to explore new solutions – it’s a strength, and one that will pay off. Is it because they don’t know the value of the support, so they instantly dismiss it as an option?
We’ve worked with businesses in pre-launch through to companies scaling up. We know from experience that each business is as individual as its owner, which is why we don‘t have a one-size-fits-all prescriptive programme to follow.
Each client begins their AD:VENTURE journey by simply talking to an advisor about where they currently sit with their business, and what they want to achieve.
Experts in business support, our advisors will offer a range of solutions to explore. We help businesses with their specific issues, offer new ideas, and move through the process at the business owner’s desired pace.
As an organisation, we’re also well connected. Much like any other experts in their industry, we know what the ever-changing funding and support landscape looks like at any given moment. We know where to go to get a business the right help. We’re oracles of our industry, as we should be. Is it reasonable to expect a business owner to know absolutely everything?
No, and that’s why we exist.
What might our help look like?
It could simply involve offering a neutral ear or being a trusted critical friend - someone who understands your challenges and can provide practical ideas to overcome them. It may be a specific aspect of your business that requires improvement; we may suggest events that will help the owner and/or team members to upskill in key areas, such as sales, strategy, marketing, SEO or the legal aspects of running a business.
We can look at your funding options and find suitable avenues for the business to increase its capacity for investment. For example, we offer a £25,000 grant; this is matched by the business and can halve the cost of a project that could support the company’s future growth.
One young business, that successfully applied for a grant of £22,000, was initially invited to an AD:VENTURE event in Cleckheaton. Recognising that their organisation could benefit from some advice, the directors went along.
They said, “It’s difficult to keep up with everything that’s going on when you start a business; there are lots of things to think about. We were aware that business support was on offer, in terms of practical assistance and grant funding, but we had no idea how to access it. We dropped into the event and listened to what was being said.”
It’s fair to say that they received a great return from simply attending a local event.
We deliver services to businesses that have been trading for less than three years, and which are based in the Leeds City Region. If that’s not you, fear not, we’re not the only horse in town. There are local growth hubs across every Local Enterprise region. Find yours and see what’s available to you in your area. Some programmes and funds are available nationally; some, regionally. Again, business advisors can help you navigate them.
What’s the true value of asking for help? It’s priceless!
For anyone wanting to know more about our service, you can get in touch via the website or through our social media channels. Our case studies are also a great way to see how we’ve helped other businesses; take a look at the ways we could help you.”
The AD:VENTURE programme delivers ERDF funded growth support to existing businesses in their first three years of trading and for people planning to start a business within the Leeds City Region. It’s supported by the 2014 – 2020 European Regional Development Fund.
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