Who's offering business support?

Who's offering business support?

There now appears to be little doubt: in the business world we have moved to a period of growth and opportunity. Confidence is increasing and investment at the smaller end of the scale, certainly from our own recent experience and others, is sharply increasing.

In this climate, how do businesses and their advisors find out about the support and resources that are now available to help them achieve their goals?

Ironically successive governments have taken the same view on access to finance and business support. The need to reduce and simplify has been deemed important - initially by design, then actions born out of lack of funds.

Yet, far removed from the simplification objective has been the emergence, as banks have reduced their own offers, of a substantial number of new products and schemes, provided by both the public and private sector. The challenge, more than ever, is therefore to keep up with the rapidly changing picture.

There once was one Business Link and nine Regional Development Agencies imparting information. Now we have 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships and 433, at last count, Local Authorities all helping the business community to a greater or lesser extent. To this add the private sector players, including banks that are themselves splitting up. We also have the information highway of the internet - if the content can be relied upon and updated.

What now appears to be emerging, supported by the public purse, is 39 Growth Hubs all linked to a Knowledge Bank to provide information and signposting for businesses. Also a new brand - Great Business (Business Link 2?).

Perhaps the biggest challenge, as ever, will be to join up the planned action. Let us hope that ‘many hands make light work’ comes out on top of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’.