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Grants, information and advice

29 April 2005
Grants, information and advice

The range of finance options can be daunting for many first-time business operators. But don't worry, there's plenty of help and advice on hand.

Barclays offers a regional network of leisure banking specialists experienced in advising those specifically in the hotel, restaurant or pub trade. Tailored services are available for new and smaller businesses wishing to borrow £200,000 or more, up to operators in the £5m-plus bracket, and customers and advisers are matched according to size and type of the business. Favourable insurance rates, staff banking facilities and professional advice are some of the services available. Contact Rod Taylor at rod.f.taylor@barclayscorporate.com.

If getting a conventional bank loan is difficult, the Small Firms Loan Guarantee (SFLG) might be an option. The DTI-backed initiative offers a guarantee to businesses unable to secure finance through lack of security. Up to £100,000 can be borrowed (up to £250,000 for businesses trading for more than two years). Loan applications are made in the conventional way to approved lenders - which include NatWest, Co-operative Bank and Clydesdale Bank - and borrowers pay a premium of 2% per year for the DTI's guarantee, which covers 75% of the loan. For further information call 0845 001 0032/3.

Business Link is a national network of 45 local business support agencies that offer impartial advice on areas including planning, finance, sales and marketing, technology and law. Suitable for new and existing businesses in all sectors, large or small, and general business information is free. Use the online Business Support Directory to find details of local funding and grants. Visit www.businesslink.gov.uk, or to find your local office call 0845 600 9006.

Business Start-ups websitewww.startups.co.uk is a mine of information for new companies or self-employed individuals looking for advice and ideas. Packed with news, tips, case studies, and entrepreneur profiles, plus guidelines on buying and selling a business, franchising and e-business.

If you're over 50 and want to set up your own business or become self-employed, not-for-profit organisation Prime may be able to help you on your way. Prime can provide business funding up to £5,000 to individuals, or £10,000 to companies run by two or more people. Benefits include no payments for the first two to three months and a free business mentor. Help with writing a business plan, an over-50s advice forum and training are also available. To be eligible, you must be without paid work and have a viable business idea. Call 0800 783 1904, or visit www.primeinitiative.org.uk.

Inland Revenue Business Support gives small and medium-sized businesses tailored advice on tax, national insurance contributions, tax credit matters and payroll. One-to-one consultations or half-day workshops are on offer. There are also telephone helplines, and an information pack for those starting up in business. More information on the Inland Revenue website at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk, or call 0845 9154515.

The Capital Fund is a £50m venture capital fund which backs fast-growing small and medium-sized enterprises at all stages of development in greater London. Initial funding can be up to £250,000. Backers include the DTI, Barclays and the London Development Agency. For further details, visit www.thecapitalfund.co.uk, or telephone 020 7812 6772. www.smallbusiness.co.uk, supported by Lloyds TSB, is designed for small business owners or those looking to set up a company. Register for a free fortnightly newsletter offering advice, ideas and news, or search its online business directory.

Registered charity The Prince's Trust may be able to help in getting your business venture started if you're between the ages of 18 and 30 (18 and 25 in Scotland), unemployed or work fewer than 16 hours a week. If you haven't been able to get the funding you need elsewhere, the trust can offer a low-interest loan or grant of up to £5,000. Business support, specialist legal advice and mentoring services are also available. To apply online, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk, or find your nearest office on 0800 842 842.

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