Finding a Grant for your UK Startup Business

Finding a Grant for your UK Startup Business

Simon Jenner

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Where to find and apply for business startup grants in the United Kingdom.

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Finding a Grant for your UK Startup Business

As the saying goes: “you must speculate to accumulate”.  All new businesses need finance to get them on their feet and push them towards making their first profit.  

Finding a grant for your startup business in the UK sounds like the ideal way to access the money your business needs without having to pay it back.

Business grants have a few hurdles in the way

Before you begin the time-consuming process of researching and applying for grants, there are five common hurdles that you must be aware of.

  1. You’ll probably have to put some money in yourself 

It is very rare for a grant to cover 100% of the costs of a project.  More commonly, they will cover between 15 and 60%.  

  1. It takes time

You will need to allocate a reasonable amount of time to researching the grants applicable to your project.  Additionally, the application processes can be lengthy and complex, and the time from submission to decision can take months. 

  1. You must have a clear plan

Grant applications require you to have written a clear plan, and to have considered every operational detail,  every possible outcome and how it aligns with your overall business strategy.  Be prepared to provide accurate financial forecasts and costing, with evidence.

  1.  It must be for a specific project

Grants for your startup business will rarely cover the cost of standard business development, and usually cover only specific projects.  Examples are research and development for a new service or product, capital equipment or a training programme with a specific goal. 

  1. Prepare to be restricted

You will not be able to apply for a grant if you’ve already started the work.  Nor will you be eligible if the work could feasibly happen without the grant. Should you receive grant funding, you will be expected to stick closely to your initial plan and report back. 

Where to look for relevant grants

The first place to start would be your local Growth Hub or enterprise agency.  They should have access to a list of grants that you could be eligible for, including those only operating in your local area. 

There are comprehensive grant finding websites, such as GRANTfinder, but full details are usually only available to paid subscribers. 

A bit of application advice

If you’ve sourced the perfect grant for your startup business, you believe you’re eligible and you have the ideal project - just a bit of advice. 

You will usually find the name and contact details of the individual administering the grant somewhere clearly in the process.  It is well worth contacting this person if you have any questions, or to clarify that your project is definitely eligible.  You’ll often get help with other parts of the form that will improve your chances of success. 

You can also ask this person about decision dates and special criteria, who they have funded previously and if you might be able to apply again in future. 

It may well be worth getting a professional to help you if you’re applying for more than £50,000.  Some accountants offer this service, but do check if they have had success in your area before.  Also, be aware that some funding writers will charge for their services whether you are successful or not, so be sure to ask. 

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