If you’re thinking of starting a business, then you’ll want to take on board all the help and advice you can. You might not know it, but there are lots of places where you can get FREE help and advice on starting your business. As well as free help and advice with expanding your business if you already have one.
In this article I’ll run through some of the places that offer free help and advice on starting your business:
Business Link is government’s official online resource for businesses. Not only is it a massive database of information, but it’s also a portal that can direct you to many more sources of free help and advice.
Business Link offers advice on things like finance, tax, employment, health and safety, IT and ecommerce, employment, sales and marketing and much more. You can find Business Link here
In Scotland Business Gateway offer a similar service to Business Link
In Wales you should contact Business Wales
In Northern Ireland contact NI Business Info
After the banking crisis I’m in two minds whether I should include banks in my list. But the fact is they do offer lots of good quality free advice on the bricks-and-mortar of starting or running a business – things like financial planning, business financial, accounting and all the rules and regulations that apply to businesses. And the good news is you don’t necessarily have to be a customer to ask for all this free advice.
Just one point about taking advice from banks: remember that their main reason for offering free help and advice is to try and sell you something at the end of the day!
Chambers of Commerce
Check to see if there’s a local chamber of commerce/chamber of trade in your area which you can join. These are particularly good for networking with other businesses in your area. You might also find you can get special discounts on goods and services from other members when you join.
Also check to see if there are any business clubs. In some places business clubs organise events like business breakfast meetings, seminars, training courses and social events.
Most local councils have an economic development unit – or something with a similar name. They can help with things like finding low cost premises, and they might also be able to put you in touch with information on grants, new business incentives and training courses too.
Local councils can also help with advice on things like planning permission, or on many of the licences that you might need for a new business.
Whatever business you’re thinking of starting up always check to see if there is a trade association for it (there usually is) and if you can join (you usually can even if you’re new to the business). Trade associations can offer help and advice that is tailor-made to your industry. They will also be able to put you in contact with suppliers, industry news and information, and market research material, and may also have training schemes, meetings, seminars and exhibitions on offer.
Trade associations also often have discount schemes for business insurance, professional insurance and financial services.
Whatever your business plans are don’t forget to take full advantage of all the free help and advice there is out there! And remember, you can search What Biz Opp for more information there too.