With the cost of living crisis putting a squeeze on everyone's finances, small business owners across the UK are finding it increasingly difficult to fund the growth of their businesses.
But what if I told you that you could get a cool £1,000 to help you grow your business, and that you wouldn't have to pay it back. You'd be pretty interested in that, right?
And what if I said that you wouldn't have to sell anything or buy anything to get the cash? Now I know you're interested. After all, who wouldn't want a load of free cash dumped into their bank account?
Well, Reigate & Banstead Council are offering to do just that. If you live in the borough or your business is based in the borough, you may be eligible to receive a business support grant of up to £1,000 to help you set up or grow your business.
What is a business support grant?
Business grants are payments provided by either the Government or a private organisation for a specific purpose – usually to set up a new business or expand an existing one.
The money could be invested in staff training, used to hire an SEO company to increase your search engine visibility or spent on new computer equipment. How you spend the grant is entirely up to you, but you need to know what you'll do with the money before you apply for a business grant.
What are the main benefits of a business grant?
Business support grants typically have three main advantages over other types of business funding, such as business loans, credit cards, overdrafts and private investment:
- Business grants don't have to be paid back.
- You don't have to hand over a percentage of your business in return for the funding.
- Business grants are typically easier and quicker to apply for.
There are hundreds of grants available to businesses of all sizes and types across the UK, so no matter where you're based in the country there's a good chance you'll be able to apply for one.
How are business grants paid?
How you receive your money very much depends on the type of grant you're applying for. You might:
- Receive your grant as a single lump sum payment upfront.
- Be reimbursed after spending your own money.
- Need to match the value of the grant before you become eligible to receive it.
Reigate and Banstead business support grant eligibility
Business grants usually have very specific eligibility criteria, and Reigate and Banstead's business support grants are no exception.
The grant aims to support local small businesses in the borough and encourage the growth of a vibrant local economy.
It's intended to be a "one off" financial award to help a small business develop and grow by enabling them to acquire or upgrade equipment, hire additional staff, move to more suitable business accommodation or learn new skills.
To qualify for a Reigate and Banstead business support grant, applicants must be:
- Aged 18 or over.
- Running a small business (1–4 employees).
- A new business or one looking to grow.
- Based in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead (Reigate, Redhill, Horley or Banstead).
- Able to demonstrate an ambition and likelihood of growth.
- Able to demonstrate availability of match funding.
In order to be considered for a small business grant, you'll also need to supply Reigate and Banstead Council with the following documents:
- A business plan
- 1–3 years' worth of financial forecasts
- Information on the legal structure of your business
- Evidence of matched funding
For more information on applying for a business support grant from Reigate and Banstead Council, please download their Business Support Grant Application Guidance document.
Applying for a business support grant from Reigate and Banstead Council should take no more than 2–3 hours. There are, however, a few steps you'll need to follow in order to get approved for a grant, which are outlined below:
- Put together a business plan.
- Create a 3-year financial forecast.
- Complete the online application form and send supporting documents.
- Attend a 20-minute online interview.
If you're successful in your application, you can expect a nice big wad of cash to be dumped into your bank account within 10–15 working days.
Before you can be accepted for a small business grant, you'll need to provide Reigate and Banstead Council with two supporting documents: a business plan and a 3-year financial forecast.
Your business plan doesn't need to be presented in a particular format. Nor does it need to be a certain length. But it does need to include the following information:
- A summary of your business objectives
- Your skills and experience
- Your target customers
- Your marketing competition
- Your sales and marketing plan
There are literally thousands of free business plan templates available to download online. Simply choose the one that best suits you and your business.
If you're struggling to find one you like, I've listed some of my favourite free business plan templates below:
- Prince's Trust business plan template (.doc)
- Start Up Loans business plan template (.xlsx)
- Business Gateway business plan template (.docx)
- Wise business plan template (.docx)
- Score business plan template (.docx)
3-year financial forecast
If you're not sure what information to include in your financial forecast, I recommend using Reigate and Banstead's financial forecasting template (.xlsx).
I recommend downloading it even if you want to use your own template, because it will give you a good idea of the type of financial information they want to see in your application.
Business support grant application form
If you've ever filled out an application form for a loan or credit card, you'll know how arduous they can be to complete. Thankfully, Reigate and Banstead Council's business grant application form won't take you anywhere near as long to submit.
It asks you for all the usual information: first name and last name, email address and phone number, business address, etc.
You'll also be asked how much money you want, up to £1,000 (err . . . I'll have £1,000 please), and how many employees you have (remember, if you have more than four employees you won't be eligible to apply).
Once you've completed the first part of the form, you'll then need to provide additional information about why you're applying for a grant.
Then it's just a case of signing the declaration and uploading your supporting documents.
The form won't win any design or usability awards, and Reigate and Banstead Council's web guy would definitely benefit from checking out our conversion rate optimisation checklist, but as far as government forms go it won't have you breaking out into a cold sweat.
Second business support grant
If you're successful in your application for the initial business support grant, you may be able to apply for a follow-up grant at a later date.
In order to be considered for the second business support grant, you'll need to be able to demonstrate that your business has grown since being awarded the first grant.
There are, however, certain things a second grant would not be awarded for, such as purchasing replacement equipment.
Or a Caribbean holiday.
Free membership to Enterprise Nation
The fun doesn't end there! If you're successful in your business support grant application, you'll get one year's free membership to Enterprise Nation.
Enterprise Nation is a community of small business owners and advisers who provide free business support, advice and guidance to business owners and those just starting out.
A membership to Enterprise Nation also gives you access to free training, networking events and additional funding and grants!
Additional business suport
Do you know about any other business grants or funding schemes available to businesses in the Reigate and Banstead area? If you do, drop a link in the comments section below!