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5 UK Organisations That Offer Funding For Start-Ups And SMEs

Starting your own business is both exhilarating and challenging. One of the main reasons that startups can’t get off the ground is due to lack of finance. If you’ve got a winning business plan, it’s a shame to be held back by money. Luckily there are a number of schemes available in the UK which can help budding entrepreneurs, and existing small businesses, to access the funding they need.

5 UK Organisations That Offer Funding For StartUps And SMEs - successful business meeting image
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1 . Princes Trust 

The Prince’s Trust started providing grants to entrepreneurs back in 1976. As well as funding, they provide an enterprise program, mentoring young people who want to set up their own companies. Grant applicants must be aged between 18-30, and applicants can start the process by filling in the form on the website. The Prince’s Trust believes that all young people should have access to career building tools. On the site you’ll also find links to free professional courses, and other career based content. 

2 . CRACK IT Challenges

CRACK IT is a challenge-based competition which funds collaborations between SMEs and academics. The goal is to solve science or business based challenges in society. Previous challenges have seen winners secure three year contracts and £1 million in funding. Current challenges in process include a handheld device for monitoring rheumatoid arthritis, and developing a method for tracking gene therapies. 

3. Tradeshow Access Programme 

The tradeshow access programme helps companies with promotion by offering grants to visit overseas trade shows. TAP offers businesses support with market knowledge, foreign export, and funding. To apply for the grant, you should be a UK small business who has been exploring a few export opportunities already. You should also attend one of TAP’s events. Many entrepreneurs forget all about trade shows, due to all new digital marketing techniques. Marketing yourself in person is more authentic and suited to expressing brand story.

4. New Enterprise Allowance

This grant is specifically for those who are currently unemployed, and would like to set up their own business. Successful candidates on the scheme receive weekly payments over 26 weeks, in the past these payments have been around £120 a week. The New Enterprise Allowance scheme also offers mentoring and help to set up your business.

5. Innovation Programme 

The Innovation Programme was made for small businesses who are creating innovative products or services. As far as criteria goes, past companies have worked in areas of assistive technologies, IT connectivity, data or energy. To apply for the program, your company should have under 250 staff members. Applicants should be made through Coventry City Council. 

When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, should you take all the personal finance tips you can get! These are just a few of the funding options for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. Be sure to apply for everything that you are eligible for, you never know what big opportunities your applications could lead to.  As a small business or startup it’s important to take care of your financial health. To help you do this, MNE Accounting offers some great outsourced accounting services, which can be accessed on their website here.

Legal Issues That Courier Businesses Are Likely To Face

Starting a courier business is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs because there is a huge demand for delivery services. We spend more than ever on online shopping, and delivery services are becoming the norm for most goods that we buy. Although the big courier services already deal with the biggest retailers, and many retailers handle their own deliveries, there are still plenty of companies out there that are in need of a courier. 

Legal Issues That Courier Businesses Are Likely To Face - truck image
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However, when you start any business, you need to manage the legal issues, and that is especially true with a courier company. If you are planning to start your own courier company, these are some of the big legal issues that you need to manage. 

Licensing 

Licensing is a big issue for courier companies. If you are operating heavy vehicles, all of your drivers will need specific licenses. As a business owner, it’s up to you to make sure that all of your drivers have the correct licenses and they do not have any driving bans in place. If you do not check the paperwork when you are hiring people, you may be held liable for allowing people to drive your vehicles without the correct licensing. 

Driving Infractions 

If your drivers commit an infraction of some kind while behind the wheel of one of your vehicles, that can be a serious problem for you. Not only does it have a negative impact on your image, but you may also be held responsible. In some cases, if the infraction is a serious one, like drink driving, you may need to look into criminal law assistance for your employee. You can avoid issues like this if you pay attention to your hiring process and make sure that you are carrying out thorough background checks. You should also consider installing a telematics system in your vehicles so you can monitor speed and make sure that your drivers are following the rules of the road. 

Insurance Issues 

When you are starting a courier company, insurance is one of the most important things to consider. If you are delivering goods for clients and they are damaged, you are liable for that damage, so you need to make sure that you have the right insurance coverage in place to pay for it. If you don’t, you will end up paying out of your own pocket and you will soon end up in financial trouble. 

You also need to consider what will happen if one of your drivers is involved in an accident. In some cases, the other driver involved with the crash may attempt to sue the company, and if your employee was at fault, you may be forced to pay a large settlement. If you have the right insurance coverage to protect your business, that’s not too much of an issue. But if you have to pay it yourself, it could spell disaster for your business. 

If your new courier business is going to be a success, it’s important that you are able to deal with these potential legal issues. 

What Are The Best Ways To Protect Your Business?

The environment is good for business, it’s true, but there’s no avoiding the fact that there are threats. When you’re in such a competitive landscape, it’ll always be that way. Even though everything might seem like it’s going well, you could find that you find yourself in a difficult position that takes you by surprise from time to time. While you can’t always prevent these things from happening, there are things you can do that’ll reduce the likelihood or provide a safety cushion if they do. Below, we take a look at some of the best ways to protect your business. 

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Find Your Weaknesses

People — and thus companies — generally focus the spotlight on their strengths and overlook their weaknesses. It makes sense. But in some cases, your weaknesses could prove to be a real threat to your business. The only way to minimise the threats these could cause to your company is to be aware of them. So take a look, a real strong look, at your business, and it’s flaws. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then there are outside experts that can help you.

Get Covered

A company could be doing absolutely everything right, and yet still end up in dire straits, if they’re not careful or they’re unlucky. You never know what might happen at your business: there could be a weather-related disaster, or a member of your team could be injured while they’re on the job. If that happens, then you might face a big bill. As such, it’s important that you’re working with an insurance broker to get the insurance that’s right for your business. It’s one of those things that you hope you’ll never need, but which you’ll be supremely grateful that you have if you do.

Be Mindful of Who You’re Hiring

Your employees should, in an ideal world, take your business from strength to strength. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, they’ll have limited positive impact (which is in effect a negative impact, since you’re paying them). At others, they may cause serious harm — for example, if they break the law and steal from you, or cause a public relations disaster. The good news is that this threat can nearly always be nullified by hiring correctly. There’ll usually be pretty big red flags around a potential employee during the interview process. Make sure you pay attention to them!

See What’s Up Ahead

Everything may be going well right now, but the present won’t be around for too long. The future is coming up, and that business landscape may look a little different. The good news is that what’ll happen five years down the line usually isn’t a big surprise: all the signs point to it. It’s just up to you to be aware of what they are. Reading trade magazines and generally keeping up with the goings-on in your industry can provide a pretty clear view of what the future will be like. From there, you can position your company for future success

3 diagrams that can change your life

That’s a bold claim, but by studying these diagrams and reading their meaning you main gain some new ideas or distinctions which may influence your choices, which will change your outcome and ultimately change you life.

3 diagrams that can change your life - passion competence and demand image

Diagram 1 considers the possibility that Passion alone is not enough. We can be passionate about art or music or being a sportsperson but if we lack the competence to make it as a professional in these areas then we need to consider other options.

A football mad teenager with a competence in Maths could become a data analyst for a sports team. Or someone with a passion for music but a talent for tech could end up as a producer.

The third sphere to consider is whether there is a demand for your skill and talent. Is that sufficient to become a full time career? A passion and talent for poetry may not be sufficient to make a successful career, but can still be a fulfilling hobby and creative outlet.

Think about what you love, what you are good at (or willing to develop) and then see how that can also earn a good living.

3 diagrams that can change your life - happiness in the now vs vision for the future image

Diagram two. This one came courtesy of Vishen Lakhiani, founder of MindValley. On one axis is Happiness in the Now from low to high, and on the other is Vision for the Future, again from low to high. So if you were to score yourself out of 10, how happy are you in this moment and what is your strength of vision for the future?

If you find yourself in the bottom left hand box, with a low score for each, you’re in what he calls the negative spiral. So you’re unhappy now, you don’t have much of a vision for the future, you’re just going to stay stuck and feel pretty down about things.

If you’re finding yourself quite happy now, but again, with no vision for the future, I’ve coloured that one pink because of rose tinted glasses. You might think everything’s okay, but unfortunately things external to us can change, which is going to affect how we feel. So that might be loss of a partner, it might be illness, it might be losing your job or a global pandemic. So, being happy now but with no vision for the future while it might feel ok short term is not necessarily a safe place to be.

So, what about a strong vision for the future but not very happy in the moment? Well, that way leads to stress and anxiety. You set goals, you have visions, you’re ambitious for the future, but you’re discontent in the moment. And that negativity you experience now is not going to help in fulfilling that vision for the future. So what it means is you suffer from stress and anxiety in the present time. Which is why expressing gratitude is such an important aspect of many self development teachings.

So where would we like to be? We’d like to be happy now, grateful and accepting of our situation, but also have a very strong vision of the future to pull us forward. And that Vishen calls bending reality. Other people call it the flow. This is where you’re able to draw the people, the circumstances, the resources you need to you. You are happy in the moment and even happier when the reality comes to fruition to change your life.

3 diagrams that can change your life - cashflow quadrant Robert Kiyosaki

And finally, diagram number three. This one comes from Rich Dad, Poor Dad author, Robert Kiyosaki. He looked at different ways in which people earn money. So to begin with, in the top left, we’ve got the employee. That’s people who spend their time at work and they’re swapping their time for money. Their conditions and their pay is largely controlled by somebody else.

Then, bottom left, we’ve got those that are self-employed. They run their own business, they work for themselves. And that covers a whole spectrum. That could include trades people or it could be self-employed sports stars earning a lot of money. Regardless in this category they’re still effectively swapping their time for money even though they’re their own boss.

Over the other side, in the top right we’ve got the business owner. That’s different from being self-employed because they’re leveraging other people’s time, other people’s skill, other people’s resources to run a business. And that business may exist with or without them. So they’re in a stronger financial position as they are not restricted to swapping their time for money.

But ultimately, the investor in the fourth quadrant is where the wealth gets made. Here these people are not limited to owning one business. They may have stakes in multiple businesses. They may invest in property or real estate. They may have stock market investments. They may have other investments, which all bring them money from different sources.

So there you have it, three of my favourite diagrams, which can change your life by making a big impact on how you feel about money and your choices about being successful in life.

Personal Finance Tips for Business Owners

Being a business owner means balancing your business’s finances and your personal finances. As well as making sure your business is bringing in enough money, you need to keep your own finances healthy. If you’re not personally doing well financially, it will make it difficult for you to continue running your business. Entrepreneurs can face some unique challenges because they take on a lot of risk, and they don’t have any support from an employer. If you’re trying to run a business while also fulfilling your own financial goals, there are a few key moves that you can make.

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Have an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is the savings that you can rely on when you have unexpected expenses. Everyone should have one to help cover costs, such as home repairs or medical expenses. It’s even more important for entrepreneurs to have an emergency fund if they rely on income from their business. If your business has a slow month or anything starts to go wrong, you might be unable to pay yourself your usual salary. An emergency fund will help to keep you afloat. Building a fund worth at least three to six months’ expenses will give you a strong safety net.

Be Careful with Credit

It’s important to manage your business credit, but you also have to pay attention to your personal credit. It’s best to stay out of debt if you can and to balance any credit that you do have to make sure you’re not borrowing too much. Keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30% is smart. You should try to maintain a clean and solid credit record, so keep up with any payments and avoid missing any, even if you can only pay the minimum payment. This will help you if you want to secure any long-term debt, such as a mortgage, which can be tricky if you’re a business owner.

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Prepare for Your Future

Many entrepreneurs don’t think enough about their financial future. They might feel they can’t afford to save for the future or simply don’t consider it because they don’t have the benefits they might get from an employer. But by accessing some advice on retirement planning for entrepreneurs, you can start getting set up for your future. You can still be prepared for your future and ensure you will be able to retire, even if you don’t have help from an employer.

Give Yourself a Pay Raise

As your business grows, you can consider whether you can afford to pay yourself more. At certain times, it could be the right moment to give yourself a pay raise. Of course, you don’t want to do this too soon, when it’s also important to have money to invest back into your business. However, as your business grows, make sure that you are rewarding yourself for your hard work too. You deserve to benefit from the growth of your company.

Although you need to spend a lot of time working on your business, don’t forget about your personal finances. It’s important to pay attention to them too.