How to get a government grant for business coaching

Liz Mowatt secured a government grant for business coaching for her company A Giving Tribute, which offers tribute cards for funerals. In a Q and A, she and the company's business strategist Joshua Wood talk to SmallBusiness.co.uk about how the grant has helped the business.

How did you apply for the business coaching grant?

LM: If you start a business in Surrey, the government reckons there is a very good chance that your business will survive, since a large percentage do here. This made it harder for us to secure financial help, but we did qualify for a business coaching grant through Growth Accelerator. We applied online and had to fill in a questionnaire. We were then interviewed in person and approved on the basis that they believed we were a company that should achieve high growth.

What exactly is Growth Accelerator?

LM: It is a new partnership between the government and the private sector which sees proven business experts working with companies to identify their barriers to growth and how to overcome them. This will include tackling problems such as securing finance, commercialising innovation and developing managerial skills.

How much financial help did you get?

LM: The course (which consists of business coaching and mentoring) cost £1,300, £600 for the service and £700 VAT which we claimed back; the full price for the course should be £3,500.

What form did the course take?

LM: The first half of the coaching time was for business strategy planning and creation of a working plan for the business. The second half of the coaching, which is currently in progress for us, offers sales and marketing strategy, addressing where marketing needs to be focused to gain market penetration.

How did the course start?

JW: We were assigned a manager who set everything up. We had a couple of face-to-face meetings with him to identify the areas in which we needed the coaching. We both agreed that at this stage it was sales and marketing. The reason for identifying these areas was so that he could match the best possible coach with the right expertise to what we wanted to achieve from the Growth Accelerator.

He supplied six coaches to us with their biographies so we could choose one. After we did, we had a meeting with both our coach so she could understand our business. She quickly understood where we were at and what needed to be done. That meeting became more of a brainstorming session which was helpful.

Like Liz said, the first half of the coaching was to form a working strategy plan and to highlight milestones and objectives. [Our coach] Roya taught us to look at the business slightly differently.

How else did Roya help?

JW: She helped formulate a business plan and afterwards we discussed it thoroughly. Because we are a small team this really assisted us to focus on the key drivers of our business that would make a big difference and it helped us manage our time and resources. Roya also insisted that the whole team do a SWOT analysis (evaluating the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). By the end of this section of the coaching we had a business plan, SWOTs, good sales messages, a clearly-defined target audience, identification of the different ways to market, all financial statements up to date and all the threats and challenges identified.

What about the second half of the course?

JW: The second half is still in progress and started mid/late January. Roya evaluated our marketing plan and budget and produced her own which concentrated on the media she thought would make the biggest impact. We have had one meeting solely looking at our marketing plan and discussing each medium individually. This was very helpful to detail the sales message, target audience and impact for each form of media.

Overall, how helpful has the course been?

JW: More than anything the Growth Accelerator has helped us to plan and identify, which is a very important process when resources are so low. It has allowed the company to concentrate its resources on the drivers that will make the biggest impact for business growth.

This has been done through detailed planning and preparation. It has decreased a lot of time-wasting which can be present in many start-ups and has helped prepare us for the future. We can also use what we have learned to train employees ourselves.

Further reading on government grants:

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