Tag: Business Support

AD:VENTURE – Update on delivery and COVID-19 Business Support

We are regularly updating this page to keep you updated on the latest guidance and support relating to Covid-19.

One-To One support

Our advisors are currently working remotely, but can still be contacted via their usual emails and telephone numbers.

To improve the quality of your remote contact during this time of limited physical interaction, we are exploring the use of video calls using Microsoft “teams” and other similar platforms to enable you to continue working with your advisor and developing your business. Please get in touch if you are need advice or support. If you are not sure who your advisor is, you can email support@ad-venture.org.uk 

Workshops and Events

We have taken the decision to rearrange all AD:VENTURE events scheduled for the foreseeable future and to deliver them in a virtual way to enable us to continue delivering this valuable workshop content to you.

We hope to have these back up and running for you very soon.

You will be contacted directly if you have booked onto an event, and we’ll be sharing details of virtual delivery options with you as soon as possible.

Business as almost usual…..

So, although we will all have to make changes to how we work, we are confident we can continue to deliver the services you need with minimal disruption.

As soon as we have our virtual solutions in place, we will be in touch with details on how you can access these services.

This will no doubt be a challenging time for everyone, and we all need to work together to reduce the impact on our businesses and individuals.

Let’s stay safe, and remember to be kind to one another #InItTogether

Keep Connected

We know one of the things valued most about the programme are the connections and networks you build with other businesses and people. This is a great time to keep working on those relationships online, supporting and sharing with each other how you have been solving your challenges – Covid-19 related or not!

We will be in touch via email, but remember, you can contact your advisor as normal, and you can also follow us on social media for updates and event information. We’ll be sharing any useful advice and information on the website too, so check for updates www.ad-venture.org.uk

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Alert Sign Up

If you would like to receive updates on the government’s response to COVID-19 you can sign up for email alerts.

SELF EMPLOYED FINANCIAL HELP

The initial guidance for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been published. In summary:

What is it?

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
  • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
  • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

What happens to individuals whose 2018/19 profits are very different to what they would have expected to make this year?
The government will only act on the most recently available data. This is from the 2018/19 tax year. To try to provide the most accurate possible estimate of self-employed income, we can look at average profits over 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19.

Is this grant subject to tax?

Yes – individuals will pay Income Tax and National Insurance on any payments received through this scheme as they are replacement for income in line with normal practice for benefits or grants that replace income. The grant is recognised as income for the purposes of Universal Credit and Tax Credits and may impact the amount claimants are entitled to.

What should self-employed people do while they wait to be paid?

In the interim, self-employed individuals may be eligible for universal credit. The government has provided over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for those affected by Covid-19.

Why does this scheme not cover small businesses who are incorporated?

Self-employed individuals who are owner-managers and pay themselves a salary through PAYE will be eligible for support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. SMEs can also access support through the temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. This supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. This new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is open to anyone who reports trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment. Self-employed individuals who work through a company do not report their trading profits in this way.

How do I access it?

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from today to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

When can I access it?

Grants are expected to start to be paid by the beginning of June 2020.

If you are unsure of your employment status (self-employed/contractor) a clear explanation can be found on the Government website 

SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT

Chancellor waives import taxes on vital medical equipment including ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing. Chancellor waives duties and VAT on vital medical imports

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years. Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19

The Government is easing administrative requirements and barriers to imports without compromising on safety. Regulations temporarily suspended to fast-track supplies of PPE to NHS staff and protect companies hit by COVID-19

Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your businessUse this service to tell us how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus.

Guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in the UK COVID-19 advice for accommodation providers

Further guidance has been issued with an updated list of those businesses which must remain closed

HMRC Tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus

Coronavirus Business Support Campaign Communications Toolkit

Companies House: guidance if Coronavirus has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts.

Due to the unfolding COVID-19 situation, cars and vans and motorcycles due their MOT from 30 March 2020 will have their MOT extended by 6 months. New rules on MOT testing for light vehicles 

For the latest information and advice, UK employers and business owners should visit the official guidance for employers and businesses.

Support available for employers through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Businesses can receive daily updates by email to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information subscribe to receive email alerts

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components. If you can help visit Production and supply of ventilator components

A number of private lenders are making funds available to small businesses impacted by Coronavirus, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.

Coronavirus industry guidance for specific sectors

These pages have been updated and include further information on grants. Local Government pages outlining items such as bin collections, parking, support and volunteering Leeds Bradford  York North Yorkshire 

UPDATE: Ofqual sets out details for schools, colleges, students, parents & carers on how GCSEs and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year’s exams. How GCSEs, AS & A levels will be awarded in summer 2020. 

UPDATE: Cash support for food redistribution during coronavirus outbreak. The government has announced a £3 million fund for food redistribution organisations help them cut food waste during the coronavirus outbreak.

PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND GUIDANCE

Find out how Coronavirus is spread and how to avoid catching or spreading germs NHS information

Advice and support while self-isolating or working from home can be found here Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Government advice for employees

The government has updated the guidance on the new measures the PM introduced on Monday 23rd March New rules on staying at home and away from others. 

HR SUPPORT

All Chamber members have the benefit Chamber HR –  access 24/7 to online HR support including sample policies and guidance  here

For those with employees who need to stay home with confirmed or possible Coronavirus infection, guidance can be found here Stay at home guidance

Guidance on advice to provide to staff

ACAS published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work.

Following government announcements that all schools are to close from today (Friday 20th March), those children of workers considered vital to maintaining the economy, protecting public health and keeping essential supplies moving will be exempt. Schools will be contacting parents directly. The list of key workers can be found here. If you have any questions as to whether your business and employees fall into this category then please contact the Chamber policy team

With employees working from home, self-isolating and schools closed, what is the right thing for employers to do?  Later today (20/03/20) an announcement is expected from government offering business advice on safeguarding jobs, until then and as a chamber member we are here to support you at this difficult time by signposting you to FREE expert advice;

CIPD here

Here are some tips on keeping disruption to a minimum;

– Assess working from home capability, ensure you check your HSE obligations and your company insurance policy
– Identify business critical roles and have a contingency plan, consider redistribution of workloads.
– As workload reduces, reduce working hours, if feasible allow holidays to be utilised as a means to avoid reducing pay.
– Change all employees holidays into hours instead of half-days / days to help with intermittent home working & child-care
– In households with both parents/carers ask that they share responsibility for childcare, and attend designated work place on reduced hours (unless you are self-isolating)

FINANCE

UPDATE: Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in innovation projects. UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to respond to new and urgent needs in UK and global communities during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim of this competition is to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic

Find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home due to coronavirus 

The HMRC has a  phone helpline set up to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus. The tax helpline number is changing. You can now call them on 08000 241222. Opening hours are from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected automatically.

HMRC have produced guidance on temporary changes to the use and supply of denatured alcohol and duty-free spirits, to help businesses who produce hand sanitiser and gel

Insurers know this is an incredibly difficult time for families and businesses as people seek to make the right decisions for their own health and that of their family. The Association of Business Insurers (ABI) has provided guidance and answers to common questions. If you are unsure what your policy covers you for then check with your insurer or insurance broker.

Insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease may be able to make a claim 

How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19 

The government have issued the following guidance Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance

Covid Corporate Financing Facility – what steps does my company need to take?

In response to extensive BRC pressure and widespread consumer demand, the contactless limit for in-store card transactions will increase from £30 to £45. This is being introduced as a measure in response to the coronavirus epidemic, to reduce the need for physical contact with PIN-Entry Devices (PEDs) at points of sale.

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. Commercial tenants unable to pay rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. Measures support ongoing conversations between landlords and tenants about voluntary arrangements. Latest measure builds on the unprecedented package of support for businesses already announced

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

You can apply for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) support delivered by Business Enterprise Fund

UPDATE: CBILS Access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme. The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. The government website is now updated 

Whether a lender requires a personal guarantee for a loan supported by the (CBILS) is at the discretion of the lender, who is accredited by the British Business Bank. However, a lender is not allowed to take a personal guarantee against a borrower’s principal residence under the scheme. So even if a personal guarantee is required under the lender’s credit policy, it cannot be taken against the borrower’s home. Some major lenders have announced that they are not going to require personal guarantees on loans under CBILS the scheme (of any size). If businesses are worried about the specific terms of finance facilities available under this scheme, they should speak to their usual lender. Further Information on CBILS 

Below is a summary of the key points:

– The government has confirmed that it will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs
– Available to UK-based businesses with annual turnover of up to £45m per year
– All 40+ accredited lenders will be ready to provide CBILS today.
– New: There will be an expedited process for overdrafts – no fees or interest 12 months. 6/7 lenders will be available to provide this from today.
– Eligibility criteria widened – aim to not turn down otherwise viable businesses which have been hit by the Coronavirus.
– They are moving away from EU State aid de minimis. ‘Membership’ organisations can now use CBILS, some other sectors restrictions have also been dropped. Awaiting more detail.
– No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme. At the discretion of the lender, the scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under
– Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.
– Those business that are growing won’t be subject to CBILS – even if they are helping to combat Covid-19.

Updated information 6.4.2020 Summary provided by partners The West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Bradford Northern Max programme goes virtual

A business support programme for digital and technology firms in Bradford is switching to virtual delivery due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Northern Max 3, which is in its third year, will now be delivered online, and technology-oriented companies less than three years old are invited to take part. 

The free business support programme will take place over ten weeks, starting on 23 April. It includes one-to-one mentoring alongside workshops and masterclasses led by experienced business coaches. Topics covered will include preparing a business plan, setting targets, profiling target customers and marketing. There will also be a focus on helping companies exploit opportunities when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, as well as an opportunity to pitch for potential investment at the end of the programme. 

The aim of Northern Max is to enable companies in the digital sector to grow and develop the reputation of Bradford and the Leeds City Region as a hub for the technology community. Forty companies have received Northern Max support since the programme started in 2018. 

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “As part of our aim to be the UK’s fastest growing economy in the next decade, we are committed to supporting our businesses with programmes like Northern Max.  

“Now more than ever, we need to ensure our small businesses get the support they need, so  they are prepared to drive growth as we recover from the effects of COVID-19. That’s why we are moving this fantastic support programme online to make sure that nobody misses out. 

“I am delighted to see exciting young companies and entrepreneurs being given access to business support like this. Programmes like Northern Max, which are delivered by industry specialists, will give businesses the crucial support network they need and that will ultimately benefit Bradford and the wider region as we emerge from the current crisis.” 

Entheos Media Group took part in the programme in 2019 and have since been able to expand their client base. Creative director Ryan Murphy said: “The programme was enormously helpful for taking our own expertise in our given field and giving us the tools necessary for transforming our skills into a functional and growing business.  

“Since our time at Northern Max, we’ve got funding, grants and have gained a bigger client base than we ever would have without it. The workshops and talks were exceptionally helpful at giving us the insight and outside-the-box thinking that allowed us to see our business in a whole new light, and allowed us reshape our business model so that we could grow exponentially.” 

Northern Max 3 will be delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It forms part of AD:VENTURE’s pledge to continue to support businesses using online tools despite the pandemic. 

Michelle Davis, part of the 10×10 team at Greenborough, said: “We are thrilled to be selected as the delivery partner for Northern Max 3. 10×10 is passionate about helping firms to grow through our bespoke business accelerator programme and wrap-around support.  

“The workshops will be engaging, interactive and relevant to businesses needing to make the most of commercial opportunities as the economy recovers from the effects of COVID-19. The 10×10 team have great experience of delivering programs remotely and are looking forward to making a difference to businesses from Bradford and the wider Leeds City Region.” 

For more details on the Northern Max 3 programme, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax3/. 

The Effect of COVID-19 on Commercial Contracts

We have seen in recent days that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, is bringing uncertainty to many businesses. The unprecedented restrictions in travel across the world and the cancellation of many public events is impacting upon many supply chains. In turn, we have seen large numbers of businesses begin to operate flexibly by developing alternative means of work, and a smaller percentage suspending operations altogether.

At this time, many businesses are rightly considering the contractual and legal issues arising from this extraordinary situation.

Understanding your contractual position

Generally, the parties are required to perform their obligations set out in a contract in full by any deadline specified.  This applies to performance of all contractual obligations, including payments due. However, there are two common exceptions to this rule:

  • Force Majeure – A number of written contracts will include a force majeure clause. A force majeure clause will usually suspend or end performance obligations where a party is prevented from performing its contractual obligations due to events outside of its control. However, even when they exist within a contract, the wording and protective scope of force majeure clauses can differ. As a result, it is necessary to consider the wording of the specific clause to determine (i) whether Covid-19 amounts to a force majeure event under a particular contract; (ii) the impact of the clause; and (iii) whether any other conditions need to be satisfied, such as notice requirements.
  • Frustration – Even where no force majeure clause exists, the legal doctrine of frustration may be available in situations where a change in circumstances makes it physically or commercially impossible to perform the contract, or would render performance radically different. The bar for relying upon frustration is high, and, similar to relying on a force majeure clause, a party seeking to rely on such may be open to legal challenge by a counterparty to a contract.

Although most businesses who are currently concerned about their contracts will want to consider the above two points, it is advisable that businesses seeking to rely on such obtain legal advice before purporting to rely on either the contractual relief of a force majeure clause or the legal doctrine of frustration.

Varying existing agreements to improve probability of performance, maintain relationships and bring certainty

At this time, we are seeing an increase in companies approach us with concerns over their ability to discharge their duties under their contracts, as well as being concerned about the ability of others to perform theirs. Even where strict legal rights exist, it is not always commercially astute to enforce them and there are situations where it is prudent to seek to relax performance requirements, in order to maintain relationships, aid cash flow and prevent the need for crippling legal action.

In relation to this, we are advising businesses to:

  • Understand your strict legal position, to determine whether you are negotiating from a position of strength or weakness.
  • Not verbally or informally change terms in your contracts (particularly in relation to material or major contracts). Rather, we recommend that you formally record any variations that you may agree in writing (it may even be a requirement in your contracts that such variations are in writing as agreed between the parties).
  • Carefully consider the practical impacts that any variations will have. The choices you make as a business will reflect the commercial constraints which are unique to you, such as the importance to you of cash flow, your ability to make internal decisions and reputation management. These elements differ from business to business and there is not a one size fits all approach that should be taken.

The options available to you very much depend on what the terms of your contracts state, and it is important that any variations that you make are made only when you fully understand the impact of such on your contracts as a whole.

Most businesses will want to consider what their obligations are and whether they can still practically achieve them. Customers experiencing cash flow issues themselves will probably want to look at alternative payment options. When dealing with customer concerns, businesses may be able to agree to split payment into a number of instalments over a set period of time to ease cash flow for the customer, but to ensure payment in full is received in time by the recipient business.

Such steps can assist from a reputation point of view in these hard times. For businesses that are able to weather the storm that Covid-19 now presents, they want to ensure that they come out with a loyal customer and supplier base to continue trade in the future.

Continued use of standard contractual documents

Covid-19 has caught society and many businesses by surprise. Business continuity is now being tested across many sectors in the UK, and in turn businesses will shortly discover the robustness of their legal documentation.

Many businesses in the UK trade on standard terms of business – in most cases, it is prudent to do so. In the current climate it is advisable to consider whether any amendments should be made to your standard contractual documentation to provide protection to your business in the coming weeks, months and beyond in relation to Covid-19 and any similar pandemics that may arise in the future. For example, many force majeure clauses reference unforeseeable events. It could be argued that, for contracts entered into six months ago, Covid-19 may satisfy this definition, but it is unlikely to do so in relation to contracts being entered into in the coming weeks.

The content of this advice article has been kindly provided to AD:VENTURE by Sarah Briscall and Joe Gosling, members of the Commercial Team at Shulmans LLP

Shulmans LLP will become Knights plc on 24 April 2020

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

North Yorkshire vehicle safety firm launches lifesaving AirBar

A North Yorkshire company has set the wheels in motion with a brand-new safety device which could save the lives of drivers, operatives and cyclists.

NuVech Solutions Ltd, based in Ripon, has launched the AirBar, an inflatable barrier fitted with LED lights which attaches to the front and back of lorries or vans. The device encourages motorists to slow down and move over and has been designed to alert approaching traffic and protect vulnerable operators working near live traffic.

The AirBar can also operate with the vehicle’s nearside indicator below speeds of 15mph to help alert cyclists of a turning vehicle.

NuVech has received orders from national hauliers, recovery companies and manufacturers, and is currently in final negotiations with a large American distributer to market the system in the USA and Canada.

The development of the AirBar has been supported by a £4000 grant from AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The money was used to adapt the company’s new premises at Phoenix Business Park in Ripon, owned by Harrogate Borough Council.

Sarah Scaife, co-director of NuVech, said: “We used to run driver training courses and one of the common things we found was that drivers were getting hit by passing cars as they worked around their vehicles. This is obviously a real safety concern.

“Our customers have witnessed first-hand the huge benefits to driver safety when the AirBar is deployed so we look forward to working with businesses who are keen to improve safety for their employees and vulnerable road users alike.”

“Due to its unique design, the AirBar will improve safety for drivers and operatives in the logistics industry. We wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without the support from AD:VENTURE. Their help has enabled us to get the wheels in motion in bringing the new product to market.”

NuVech Solutions was set up by Sarah and Simon Scaife in December 2017. The husband and wife team previously ran a separate company, Vehicle Transporter Training, which offered accredited transporter driver training courses. Simon has over 30 years’ experience in the vehicle logistics industry.

The AirBar was launched in September 2019 in the UK and has already won an innovation award from the Institute of Vehicle Recovery, despite being up against major manufacturers.

One of the first companies to order the AirBar is John Macadam and Son, a recovery firm based in Colne, Lancashire which operates across Yorkshire and North-West England. Director Alastair Macadam said: “The most important asset we have in the company is our staff and this system helps to protect them, which makes it invaluable.

“The device has already proved useful for our drivers – we were dealing with an incident on the M6 involving an overturned HGV and both the police and highways officers commented on the Airbar as being a good idea.”

As well as providing the £4000 grant, AD:VENTURE supported Simon and Sarah with creating a business plan, ensuring the device complied with industry legislation, and moving to NuVech’s current premises at Phoenix Business Park in Ripon.

Councillor Graham Swift, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources, Economic Development and Enterprise at Harrogate Borough Council said: “It’s fantastic to see a new company based in Ripon developing such an innovative product, and we wish NuVech every success.

“We’re delighted to be a partner in the AD:VENTURE programme, it’s a valuable part of the local services we offer to help the growth of start-ups and new businesses like NuVech.”

Selby Start Up Smiles and Miles celebrate success

Smiles and Miles, the tutoring membership community launched by single mother of two and teacher of 23 years, Sarah Oliver, is celebrating after reaching its target to provide more than 100 students with access to the educational support they need, delivering no fewer than 80 sessions per week.

In addition, the start up business has also registered 10 tutors across a range of subject specialisms to manage the demand for its services, while also securing a tender with a third sector funder to provide education services to disadvantaged communities.

None of this would have been possible however without the support that Sarah has received from Selby District Council and ERDF funded programme, AD:VENTURE.

Sarah comments: “I would not be where I am today without the help I’ve received from AD:VENTURE and Selby District Council. Not only was I able to access loads of courses on a range of subjects, I also had 1:1 mentoring which was invaluable. Having a business is certainly a rollercoaster but with this support it becomes more manageable. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Realising that she wanted a better work and life balance, Sarah gave up her career of more than two decades as a primary school teacher to become an independent tutor.

Believing that youngsters need more than systems to pass exams, Sarah’s approach was to give children the chance to become life-long learners by helping them to become confident, happy and resilient. In turn, she believes this has a knock-on effect and allows young people to make greater academic progress.

Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t earn enough to live, yet it was obvious that there was increasing demand for her services and the approach that she takes.

Sarah turned to Selby District Council Senior Business Advisor, Heidi Green who put her in touch with AD:VENTURE Business Growth Advisor, Lisa Whalley. With a start-up that had potential to scale up, Sarah was able to access courses and a range of workshops while also attending networking cafes to meet with others in a similar situation.

Recognising the potential in the business, Sarah changed the model and created a business to business membership community, extending the number of students and tutors that Smiles and Miles was able to work with. This approach proved successful and has established the organisation within the sector.

Sarah continues: “I never thought my business would become so successful so quickly and thanks to the support I’ve had I have learnt so much about how to think like an entrepreneur. It’s not just about being the best at what you do, in my case it was also taking responsibility for organising the tutors, becoming a parent liaison, dealing with invoicing and then marketing. It’s a completely different set of skills.

“The access to professional advice has been incredible and with so much business support out there, I can’t believe every start up isn’t tapping into what’s available!”

Selby District Council Executive Member with responsibility for economic development, Cllr David Buckle, added: “This is a great example of how we’ve been able to work with others to offer practical help to support small business growth. We’ve got a great entrepreneurial spirit here in the Selby district, with lots of room to grow too. That’s one of the reasons Selby District Council works in partnership with business in this way.”

Future plans for Smiles and Miles are to franchise the business and to extend its reach beyond Yorkshire. Longer-term it is intended that the company will become a nationwide offering, showcasing what you can achieve when you access the advice and guidance that is offered from professional business services throughout the region.

For further details about the AD:VENTURE programme, please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk and for details about Selby District Council and its business services please access, https://www.selby.gov.uk/

Market Your Business Better in 2020

Want to make a commitment to market your business better? Here Daneile Moore, Communications and Marketing Officer for Leeds City Region AD:VENTURE Programme, looks at what you might do differently in 2020.      

The New Year has is now a fading memory and January been and gone (Was it just me or was that the longest month!) but, there is still plenty of time to make a firm resolution to grow your business through marketing.

This time of year is a perfect time to start something new or do things differently. So, how about taking a good look at how you market your business?

Did you draw up a marketing plan way back in the mists of time? Are you still doing what you have always done, wondering why your sales have stagnated? Are your competitors starting to creep ahead of you, even though you know your product or service is better than theirs?

Or maybe you have never actually planned how you market your business. Maybe it has been down to luck so far. Well done if so, but I guarantee with a few select tactics, you can increase your business visibility and growth.

So now is the time to draw up a plan. For the purposes of this blog I am going to assume that what you sell is good and there is a demand for it. If not, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board with that before you can even think about selling it (Fear not though, help is available if you think that’s where you are at, and I strongly advise you take it before going any further! I’ve included a few links at the end of the blog)

The plan does not need to be a huge strategy. Keep it simple and focus on some key basics initially. You can then build on the areas you see success in.

It needn’t cost money to market your business. Many early stage businesses take the boot strap approach, and if planned well, it can be hugely successful. I want to focus on the ways you can get your name out there without paying over the odds for advertising or loads of leaflets.

Start by working out who you want to sell to. That might be in terms of: business or consumer, geographical reach, age of customer and economic status.

Then work out where those people inhabit. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIN or Twitter? Are they reading the business press or hanging out at networking or trade events? Then target those areas. It might mean getting up to go to breakfast networking events or putting together a press release to send to business reporters.

The great thing about press releases is that they do still get used by reporters, even if this age of digital news and social media. Journalists like a story that they can just use rather than write, especially as they are usually spread quite thinly and it saves them time. When you write a press release, it needs to be a story. Basically, you are trying to get the reporter to run it like they would run a story they would write. Take a look at the style they write in and copy that.

New products, recruitment, charity work or new contracts are always good stories to share. Remember to always provide a high res image too. Pictures really do say a thousand words, and it’s more likely to get your story featured. Make sure it’s relevant and well shot. A smartphone camera will work just fine.

People work well, but make it interesting (Not just a person on a boring backdrop!) and try and include your products and branding. It can mean you getting a nice big spread in your local paper and getting featured on their website. That has a lot of kudos as it looks like someone else is saying you are good. Far more powerful than paying for an advert.

Lots of people will tell you you must use social media. But which do you use? There is a bit of a myth that you must be out there posting and tweeting on all platforms. So, again, stop and think; where is your audience? Are they on Facebook or are they the sort of people who get involved in debates on LinkedIn? Go where they are, rather than spreading yourself too thin. Following hashtags that are key to your industry are a great way to keep an eye on conversations and topics that you could comment on and add your expert input to.

Time is a huge challenge for a growing business, and it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to think about these things. Give yourself a set amount of time and dedicate that to posting, sharing or creating content. You don’t have to be on it all the time, but do keep an eye for notifications and respond if your customers engage on social. There is nothing worse than being out there and not interacting!

Try mixing selling messages with useful content. If you constantly sell, your users will disengage. Instead share industry relevant content, other user content and also keep an eye on special dates or weeks that you can integrate into your messaging. There is a “day” for everything now (mainly invented by marketing teams / social media!) so what’s the day your business should be shouting about?

There are also lots of useful free or low cost tools you can use to help reduce the time it takes to post messages, allowing you to schedule a number of messages in one go, across multiple platforms keeping your feed active over the upcoming weeks without requiring you being on it every day.

Buffer is great for straightforward social media scheduling. Hootsuite is my recommendation for starting out, is easy to use and has a decent free offer. It works well for all-in-one social media scheduling, monitoring, and analytics. Iconosquare is a favorite for managing Instagram business accounts and Sendible a great tool for lead generation. There are more, and many are free to a certain level of use.

Whichever method you use, just remember: I can’t buy your goods or services if I don’t know you exist. So, get out there and get selling!

If you want any more advice and support over how to market your business, if you are less than 3 years trading, and primarily supply B2B? Get in touch with AD:VENTURE today at www.ad-venture.org.uk If your business has been established longer, don’t worry, there is also a huge amount of support available from the LEP Growth Service, The Skills Service and Digital Enterprise to name a few!

Yorkshire business support programme provides over £1m in grant funding

A Yorkshire business support programme has provided more than a million pounds in grant funding since its launch. 

AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, has provided over £1.3m of funding to start-up firms and helped create 391 jobs. 

Since the programme started at the end of 2016, AD:VENTURE has helped more than 3000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved 156 grants to help start-up businesses to grow, including support for purchasing vital equipment and moving to suitable premises.  

Partners of AD:VENTURE include the regionnine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, with businesses also able to access academic input through programmes delivered by higher education partners, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.  

The programme has also supported 826 people aged 18 to 30 through its Explore Enterprise Course, run in partnership with The Prince’s Trust. 

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11, said: “Programmes like AD:VENTURE help start-up businesses to speed up their growth, and that leads to a stronger economy. 

“We have some fantastic new businesses in this region and these figures show that with the right support provided at the right time, start-ups can go from strength to strength.” 

One of the businesses benefiting from the programme is Halifax-based Candle Digital, an online learning platform for training providers. The team worked with an AD:VENTURE advisor who helped them to target the right people that could benefit from their service. 

Mark Langdale, director of Candle Digital, said: “We can’t recommend AD:VENTURE enough. The business support we have received is far beyond anything we could ever have expected. 

“We would suggest to any start-up business that they investigate the advice, guidance and sessions that are on offer and make the most of them.” 

Power Sheds, a shed manufacturer based in Bradford, have also seen the benefits of accessing AD:VENTURE grant funding, which was used to help purchase an automated saw. The equipment measures the timber to the correct length allowing it to be cut very quickly and reduces waste.  

The new equipment means that Power Sheds are on target to triple their size within the next year, with plans to expand into Europe. Jack Sutcliffe, director of Power Sheds, says the support they have had from AD:VENTURE has played a big part in the company’s rapid growth. 

“They’ll happily come out and see you and are always available to give you advice on anything that you might need. They’ve also advised us on where to go for other funding and put us in contact with lots of different people who might be able to help us.” 

AD:VENTURE is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) match funded programme which offers grant funding, mentoring and business development advice to pre-start, young and new firms with growth potential in the Leeds City Region. The programme also runs free events tailored to new businesses and offers support to young people who are keen to develop entrepreneurial skills 

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/ 

Bang for your buck: Here are the best locations to run your business in the UK

New rankings reveal the best locations to run your business according to average rent prices, size of the talent pool, access to government funding and broadband speed

Leeds leads the way as one of the best places to set up a business

Four Leeds City Region locations appear in the top ten in the UK

From monthly bills to access to the best talent, a new ranking reveals the best places in the UK to run a business – and Leeds City Region is leading the way.

Having developed the ranking system based on evidence from a variety of metrics linked to setting up and running a business, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aims to highlight some of the best locations around the country for business leaders to set up shop.

The ten metrics used to create the ranking system were:

  • Price per square foot for commercial rent properties1
  • Parking availability and price (£)2
  • Number of finance and support schemes available from Government3a & 3b
  • Broadband speed (average download speeds Mbit/s)4
  • 4G coverage (%)4
  • Unemployment rates (%)5
  • Quality of life score6
  • Young population (ages 18-34) (potential employees for businesses)7
  • Number of arts, entertainment and recreation services/professional, scientific and technical businesses per 1000 18/34-year-olds8
  • Annual media gross pay (2019)9

The LEP also reviewed population statistics10 in the top ten metropolitan districts, as well as the capital, and ranked each according to the ten metrics

The three best areas for business leaders to pay attention to were revealed as Leeds, Kirklees and London, with Leeds leading the way as the number one location for businesses across all metrics.

The top ten places to run a business from in the UK according to these measures are:

  1. Leeds
  2. Kirklees
  3. London
  4. Bradford
  5. Liverpool
  6. Birmingham
  7. Wakefield
  8. Coventry
  9. Manchester
  10. Sheffield

With the average rent per square foot coming in at £301, Leeds is not the lowest cost destination to host a business. Kirklees* takes that coveted spot with the average rent per square foot in the area costing only £13.501.

However, Leeds ranks best in terms of low unemployment rates (4%)5, a high quality of life score (7.76)6, a large percentage of young population in the city (222,673)7 and a high annual pay (£33,245)9, helping the city achieve the overall top spot.

Looking outside of Leeds City Centre, other areas within Leeds City Region also ranked highly for low rent prices alongside Kirklees* (£13.50)1, including Bradford (£15)1, Wakefield (£16)1 and Sheffield (£25)1. The findings indicate the Leeds City Region should be a real consideration for any business leaders looking for a new location.

Bradford also ranked highly for the average cost of parking, which on a weekday is only £3.342 compared to rocketing prices in places such as London (£44)2.

For businesses still looking to establish their headquarters in London, leaders should be prepared to pay 344% more per square foot compared to Kirklees, with the average rent in the capital coming in at a hefty £60+ per square foot.

Unsurprisingly, businesses based in the capital have access to a higher volume of government funding schemes (44)3 compared to other cities, however everywhere within the Leeds City Region (including Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Kirklees) has access to an impressive 12 schemes3b. Manchester (10)3, Coventry (4)3, Birmingham (3) and the other listed cities also have access to a range of funding opportunities, should businesses qualify.

Other costs to be considered include energy bills, however this is determined by the size of the business rather than location. Large businesses can expect to foot a bill of around £3,139 each year for energy compared to £706 for small businesses11.

In addition to these metrics, Leeds has a large volume of higher education student enrolments, with over 63,00012 currently in the city, meaning businesses have access to a high volume of graduates who are keen to begin their professional careers. The education ecosystem in Leeds City Region also boasts nine universities and 14 higher education colleges contributing to a fast-growing talent pipeline.

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11 commented “We’re thrilled to take the top spot when it comes to entrepreneurs looking for a place to set up their business. We truly believe that the Leeds City Region has so much to offer, from top of the range office space and a thriving business scene, to an impressive talent pool, it’s a fantastic place for any business to start, or continue their journey.

“We’ve so far helped 11,000 businesses to grow through £43 million funding, and have also launched the £2.5 million Digital Investment Fund which includes the #Grow and #Welcome programmes to help tech businesses thrive in our region.”

“With tech giants such as Channel 4 and Sky making the leap to the Leeds City Region, we look forward to welcoming more businesses to our community.”

Recent investor Paramjit Uppal, Founder, AND Digital added “We decided to open an office, or as we call it, a club, in the heart of Halifax as we saw a fantastic opportunity to help organisations in West Yorkshire accelerate the development of its digital capabilities. West Yorkshire is a vibrant, welcoming region with a real appetite for growth and innovation – we’ve been delighted by the warm and enthusiastic welcome we’ve had and the support we have received from the LEP.”

How To Attract Customers As A Start Up

You run a fantastic company. You make amazing products or provide a brilliant service. So why are you not getting the customers?

The simple answer is: if people don’t know you exist, they can’t buy from you. And if your competitors are making more noise than you, they will get the business.

At AD:VENTURE we want to help people set up businesses and grow those businesses. And if you want to scale up your business you need to bring in customers. And to bring in customers you need people to know about you.

But all this costs money, you say. Well it doesn’t have to. There are ways and means of getting out there that don’t cost loads of money. They might cost time and effort, but they don’t need to cost you loads of dosh.

Yes, you can pay for advertising to tell people about your business. But there are other ways. Do you use social media? Do you go online and look at websites? And what about magazines, newspapers, radio and TV? You can use all of these channels and you don’t have to pay a lot to get your name out there.

Where to begin? Well, first of all, think about where your customers are and what media they are consuming. Are they on Facebook? Do they read the trade press? Are they local to your business? Or do you sell around the UK or the world?

Let’s start with social media. You don’t have to be on every platform, better to do one or two well than stretch across too many. The most important thing is where are your customers, or potential customers, hanging out?

It might be a LinkedIn group; it might be on Facebook, or maybe your business is very visual and they are on Instagram or Pinterest, or bouncing ideas off each other on Twitter. Wherever they are, go there!

But don’t sell to them; build a relationship. Nobody wants to be sold to, but people like interesting content and useful advice. Use that to your advantage. There is a theory that 80 per cent of your content should be interesting and then 20 per cent can be sales messaging.

People love visuals and particularly video. These days all phones can film video good enough to be used on social media. So how about using video? Or taking photos? But do remember that your online presence needs to reflect your brand values. So, if you are selling something high value, it doesn’t look good if your online presence looks amateurish. It might be tempting to give the social media management to the youngest member of the team, but you must keep in mind that, while it is social and personable, it also needs to be professional.

And what about the traditional press? You can get featured in there too. Journalists and producers are looking for stories to fill space. To put it bluntly they need content, and you can provide that content. So, what can you tell them about your company? It might be the new contract you have just won, the new member of staff you have just taken on or the new product you have developed.

The best way to approach the traditional media is by email and the best way to tell them the story is the good old-fashioned press release. It still works, even in these days of everything being online and connected. Basically, the press release is the story. Tell them who you are, what you are doing, where, when, why and how. That is the story!

Another way to get free publicity is to be an expert on a business topic. You might know all about finance or the law or dogs or exporting, or even just running a business. Whatever it is, journalists and producers may be interested in getting your opinion and your comments on stories. And you will be seen as the expert on that topic, and a person I can trust to do business with. And remember ultimately people do business with people.

And also remember AD:VENTURE is here to give you all the advice you need to grow your business, including how to market it.There are other support programmes out there; ones that are focussed on digital, manufacturing, innovation and productivity, and there are loads of events too to help you meet others and get inspiration. It’s worth a look at the Leeds City Region LEP website to get some more ideas and more support.

After all – you are worth it!

TECH START-UP SET TO BE GLOBAL GRAND SLAM

A Leeds-based digital community and performance app for amateur tennis players is preparing for launch thanks to the guidance and support the founders received from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme supporting start-ups and scale ups throughout the Leeds City Region.

Founded by Cameron Almas and Jake Fox, WeTennis provides the sporting community with a platform that connects players together and allows them to track and display their performance stats against other enthusiasts.

Recognising that tennis players were being underserved by digital propositions, the founders developed a platform that uses match data to deliver advanced analytics and smart matchmaking allowing players to have a unique digital experience, accompanying their passion for the sport.

Understanding the importance of being surrounded by people with valuable experience and expertise, Cameron and Jake approached AD:VENTURE and were connected with professional Business Engagement Manager, Deborah Hetherington.

Jake comments: “I’m from a commercial background and Cameron’s past experience includes tennis retail, but as first-time founders of a business we needed to be connected with the right people to help validate the demand for WeTennis and also access support that could help us to make it happen.

“Deborah was an incredible help. Not only was she very informative and easily accessible, she also had access to a very diverse network of professionals. She connected us with Leeds Beckett University lecturer, Paul Rhodes, who acted as a mentor in the early days of WeTennis and helped us shape the value proposition and route-to-market strategy.”

Jake and Cameron also attended a one-day event in Halifax facilitated by AD:VENTURE, which was a “knowledge sprint” workshop offering a detailed insight into different areas of business, from product development, marketing and securing funds to name a few.

Along with the mentoring support, WeTennis also benefited from the work carried out by a team of students from Leeds Beckett University. The student team worked with WeTennis over a three-month period, conducting consumer market research in order to validate the demand for the product.

Jake comments: “The event in Halifax, which I saw as a ‘knowledge sprint’, showed us how to secure funding, market our product and the process of product development. Following this, the next step was to test and develop the WeTennis prototype.

“Once again, through Paul, a team of students from Leeds Beckett University collaborated with us for a three-month period, adding invaluable insight in how to tweak and change the app in preparation for its launch.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, comments: “As well as accelerating the growth of established businesses across the Leeds City Region, the AD:VENTURE programme also helps empower budding entrepreneurs that are taking their first steps into launching brand new ventures.

“The Leeds City Region is becoming one of the UK’s leading hotspots for innovative, tech start-ups and WeTennis is no exception. Both Jake and Cameron are bringing to market an extremely exciting and unique offering, which is why the support, advice and guidance from AD:VENTURE has been so crucial.

“With such a diverse economy, it is great to know there is a programme in place that can offer expert support to start-ups and scale ups that helps them to grow and flourish.”

Following the early support received from AD:VENTURE, WeTennis built a well-rounded business plan which then helped secure £40,000 funding from the Business Enterprise Fund. This funding has been used to build the first version of the WeTennis app and the company has now established partnerships with clubs and universities in the UK and USA.

With the ability to record games, track and display performance analytics and interact with other players, WeTennis is aiming to become sports newest global digital community.

Find out more information about the WeTennis app here: https://wetennis.app/. To find out about the practical and funding support that can be accessed through AD:VENTURE please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk.