The aspirations of Yorkshire entrepreneurs will always need support from the three Fs – family, friends and financiers.
The first two are almost automatic if the kitchen-table ideas is to progress. You will always need to bounce ideas around and ask for help to get things made and marketed. That physical support can often be financial – but might not be enough to see the project through its most challenging development stages.
So all firms will need finance from someone with the insight and empathy to understand what they are aiming for and the skills to dig deep into a busy market of products and come up with the perfect combination.
In this BQ Yorkshire report we look at some of the options available and offer case studies of people who have experienced the system. We talk to Labman Automation near Stokesley, where MD Andrew Whitwell’s company designs and manufactures custom-made robotic solutions for companies around the world. He had already planned a major expansion, but a major boost from the Let’s Grow fund has changed his timetable and as he puts it “Let’s face it – we didn’t have £200,000 to help our company grow and now we do!”
Then we look at another situation – where a firm has to act quickly and needs the funds to make its plans happen. RedBlack Software was looking for software developers to help with the massive job of moving their product on to the Cloud. Let’s Grow made it happen, and the online availability of RedBlack’s work is now opening up a much wider market for MD Jane Tyler.
Certainly the stats for Let’s Grow in North and East Yorkshire are impressive. A delegated fund from the Regional Growth Fund, administered by accountants and business advisers UNW and independent business services group BE Group, it has awarded 14 vital grants in the area totalling just under £3m.
This translates into an investment from those businesses of £23.7m which they are using to create or safeguard 584 jobs. And there is still time to benefit, with £900,000 still to be allocated by the end of the year. But the scheme is just one example of the funding foundations that Yorkshire firms can build upon.
You will also find out more about the Bradford-based Business Enterprise Fund - a not-for-profit social enterprise set up to provide loans to SME businesses who are unable to raise finance from mainstream lenders. For the last 11 years, BFE has ploughed its profits back into the company to support its own crucial work.
Yorkshire entrepreneurs also have the option of Start Up Loans, a government funded scheme providing advice, money and mentoring to new businesses. They offer the opportunity to borrow up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum and access to free business support.
So the help is out there from people and organisations who aren’t just in it for the money, but are part of a comprehensive network of lenders which recognises that an investment now can pay off not only for the individual firms, but for the local and national economies.
Take a few minutes to cast your eye over what is here, take which bits you think will be useful, make your move and invest in your future and that of your workforce and your region.