Where do I go for business help?
Welcome to the post public sector funded business support era! Just about now would-be business starters are finding that in most cases and most areas, there is nowhere to go for free business advice on a face to face basis. (Check with Business Link and your local authority to see if there is anything specific to your location.)
There are some very good sources of advice on-line, including www.businesslink.gov.uk but if you are new to business, you don’t know what you need to know so how do you get started on your research? A web site cannot spot when someone is looking confident or bewildered by the information they are receiving; it cannot know when a bit of TLC or a harsh reality check is in order.
Funded face to face advice was hardly a panacea. Your access to help really depended on whether you happened to be in the “target” market of the funder. Were you a start-up or a pre-start – or even a pre-pre-start? Were you in a priority area or 50 yards further down the road? Like most target driven services, your quality of service would depend to a greater or lesser degree on how likely you were to be someone’s output. Payment by results inevitably leads to cherry-picking.
In an ideal world, everyone should have access to the level of advice that meets their needs. That can only be achieved independently of grant funding and ultimately where the service is dictated by the users. Despite all the benefits and cost savings to the Treasury of every business start however small, you will only get a good advice service if you pay for it. Anything else will be a political expediency.
That said, if you live in Derbyshire, you can get a half-hour free advice session from Derbyshire Enterprise Agency to at least point you in the right direction. If you need help beyond that – and you probably will, then it will cost you £25 + vat per hour. They also offer a two-hour workshop at £10 + vat that walks you through the basics of self-employment that can help you decide if starting your own business is the right choice for you. Date of next “Be Your Own Boss” event is Thursday 12th April, 5.30-7.30pm in Chesterfield. Call Janet Howett on 01246 212538 or email email@example.com