In part one of Sarah’s story, we learned of her journey to Growth Hub Business Adviser. Today, Sarah explains how the Ready2Grow project could help your business achieve its potential whether you’re just starting out or planning for growth.
Ready2Grow offers support to small and medium-sized enterprises. Open to anyone who wants to start or grow an SME, the project provides free workshops, networking opportunities, one-to-one guidance and the opportunity to apply for grant funding.
“Start-up businesses or those that are established and looking to take things to the next level can definitely benefit from the Ready2Grow offer,” explains Sarah. “There are loads of reasons people approach us; they may want to grow or create new jobs but to do that, they might need a new piece of equipment, a website or to undertake a big marketing campaign.”
These are often expensive, challenging hurdles to overcome, which is why Ready2Grow has proved particularly beneficial for start-ups who are finding the money raising process challenging .
The Ready2Grow journey starts with a call to the Northamptonshire Growth Hub and a registration of interest by signing the terms and conditions. “This is an important stage for us, as this is the acknowledgment that you’re ready to receive our help,” explains Sarah.
The support stage starts with a diagnostic call undertaken by a Ready2Grow business adviser, and is used to determine if the business in question is a starter or a grower (defined by the stage it’s at and the entrepreneur’s business acumen). Free workshops then follow, after which the client gets to spend further time with their adviser to discuss the next steps. This includes exploring current challenges and how the workshops may help address them.
Once the support has been received and the busesses has a clear idea of future plans, they can apply for grant funding. “With Ready2Grow, you can apply for a grant between one- and three-thousand pounds which can be used on pretty much anything you can justify as helping your business establish itself,” explains Sarah.
For start-ups, this can enable them to purchase vital equipment such as new laptops, or desk equipment. Equally, if a website needs to be built, the grant can fund that, too. The fact it’s 50% match-funded makes Ready2Grow particularly attractive.
Anyone concerned about a tricky sign-up process needn’t worry either, as Sarah explains.
“There’s less than ten questions to answer, and there’s no complicated wording. It’s a case of answering who you are, what you do, the services you offer, what project you’re looking to fund and how you think it’ll grow your business.”
Sarah’s approach to working with Ready2Grow clients is to immerse herself in the learning experience. “I’ve attended all the workshops myself, as I thought that was important to get a feel for the content and value they offer our clients,” she says.
For anyone concerned about the time investment involved for programs like Ready2Grow, Sarah has some comforting words.
“The total time commitment, including the grant application, workshops and engagement with us is about thirty hours,” she explains. “We can normally get people through the program in about three months with an outcome for the grant application.
“For anyone who is considering Ready2Grow, I’d say get enrolled, have the diagnostic review with us and let us investigate what opportunities are there for you. We go through every aspect of planning a business and can tell you where we think the process will add the most value. There’s nothing to lose!”
To find out more about Ready2Grow and how to apply, click here.
This is part two of a three part series. In the next blog, Sarah will reveal why Young Enterprise is such an important side project for her.