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Business Link and Build up Business can help you find grants, Business branding and website design for small to medium sized companies and start up businesses. We went with a company referred to us by our local business centre called www.yonline.co.uk who helped us with our web site and also helped us re-design our company logo for our business cards and letterheads. They built us a great web site and after the initial cost the yearly fee was only £90 for hosting. we were so impressed that we thought we'd let people know about it.
Business Link also helped us to find out if we were entitled to a grant to pay towards our web site and we were eligible for the business link in our area, not only that but we found out that Business Link could help us with other grants too, for things like equipment and display stands for exhibition venues and some materials that we needed. They also helped us with other stuff like tips on marketing our business and they gave us a lot of support. They even helped us to find a good accountant.
If you're thinking of starting up a small business or if you've been in business for a while, then I'd advise you to contact your local business centre or Business Link and ask them for some help, we're glad we did and I can't thank www.yonline.co.uk enough for all of their help with my website. They were really friendly and helpful and their prices are reasonable too. Give them a visit.
The Business Link is funded by the Governemnt and opperates all over the country. My local is based in from Chamber of Commerce bulidings, and usually run by Chamber of Commerce people. (I now gather that this is not always how it works.)It is a resource for small businesses and is enormously useful. If you have started or are thinking about starting up your own business, get in touch with your council or your Chamber of Commerce as these people can help you find your nearest business link. The Small Business assistance offered by the Business Link is available through the Chamber of Commerce - it's somethign they support and endorse although they might not have any hands on involvelement in your area. The Link also opperates through job centres - another place you can ask if you want to get in touch with your local group. At no cost to you, you can go on a 2 and a half day introductory course, during which you will learn a bit about how tax, VAT and National insurance works for the self employed. They will help you to think about your plans, and by talking with others in the same boat, you can learn a lot. They will teach you how to do a business plan - vital if you want to borrow money from the bank. You can then apply for a five hundred pound grant - they give you a form which isn't hard to fill in. All you need is a business account (Go to natwest and you get 18 months of free business banking if you do this course.) You also need proof of one sale and to invest 500 pounds of your own money into the venture. It's well worth a go and you will really need to do all of the above if you are serious about setting up. Things that won't get grants - authors, artists, hairdressers, lorry drivers (unless prviding own van) part time self employment, ilegal business, anyhting that might bring them into disrepute. You can go back to the Business Link for free advice and support - there will be various people you can talk to, all wi
th first hand expereince of being self employed. You don'thave to join the Chamber of Commerce to have access to this.(You can join the hamber of Commerce for about 100 pounds a year, if memory serves, I haven't done this so I don't know anything much about it. Worth cheking out though.) It is good to know there is someone you can go to if things start to go wrong - working alone can be very lonely and the reassurance that there is someone who can help you is well worth having. Throughout the year, the Business Link runs free courses in a range of useful areas - filling in tax forms, marketing, and all the things you might need to help you on your way. Ask at your local centre for leaflets. So far I have done the initial course, written a business plan, (their advice was very helpful.)applied for the grant, and got it. I've found them enormously supportive and helpful. I would recomend them to any small business owner or self employed person. Here's a statistic for you. One in three small business goes under within the first few years. If you do this course, you are statisticaly less likely to be one of those endevours that falls by the wayside. Best of all, the people at the Chamber of Comerce and Chamber of Commerce based Business Links are largely self employed, they know what it's like. They can give you valuable adivce and support. If you want to go self employed, see these people, it really is worth it. I've just had a look at the website, and it's pretty good - easy enough to get around and with some useful information on it. However, it's not going to be anything like as useful as a course and contact with real people.