Gloucestershire has been recognised as one of the best places in the country to start a business, with European fintech firm Raisin UK declaring the UK county most likely to recover strongly from the pandemic.
It is probably no coincidence that Gloucestershire is also blessed with plenty of organisations dedicated to helping entrepreneurs’ ambitions come to life.
We feature some of them here.
The Growth Hub
This network of centres across Gloucestershire is all about helping businesses of all sizes grow and it also supports start-ups.
If it can’t help you directly with its seminars, business advisors, courses or networking opportunities, it will know someone who can. Incidentally, it is also home to Start and Grow Enterprise, which should be at the top of your ‘must contact’ list.
Growth Hub contact points can be found in libraries across the county with actual Growth Hubs at Vantage Point Business Village in the Forest of Dean, Tewkesbury Borough Council’s offices, the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, SGS College in Stroud, the University of Gloucestershire’s Oxstalls campus in Gloucester and from early summer this year at Cheltenham’s Minster Hub.
Gloucestershire Libraries innovation lab
Gone are the days when libraries were just about books. Information in digital form is also the order of the day now and the accessibility of libraries has made them a valuable space for services which can support businesses.
The Lab, at Gloucester and Coleford libraries, offers accessible digital skills development – from simple printing and scanning to useful software including full Adobe creative cloud and advanced digital design to animation and podcast recording equipment.
A lab ‘tech team’ is on hand to help and there is a network of freelancers and creatives to plug into too. Labs are also opening in Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Chipping Campden and Stroud libraries.
Ask Us: Business and Patent Library Centre
Gloucestershire’s libraries also collaborate with the UK’s Business and Patent Library Centre network, described as ‘a growing network of regional patent information centres’, supported by the Intellectual Property Office.
It covers Gloucestershire from its county base at Gloucester Library, providing access to patent, trademark, design and copyright information.
Its service is there to help businesses and individuals understand the different types of legal protection available for their ideas and how to apply to protect their intellectual property assets.
South West Cyber Resilience Centre
According to the police-led team behind the Cyber Resilience Centre, the average cost of a cyber-attack on a business is more than £8,000, with only two in five attempted breaches coming to light each year as others slip under the radar.
The team is there to look after small businesses and charities which don’t have the resources or knowledge to protect themselves, give guidance and support and provide monthly updates, free of charge.
If you want someone to review your systems and processes or provide bespoke training it can help ‘very inexpensively using top talent from regional universities’ and if you need outsourced IT to help with your cyber resilience it can direct you to recognised local providers.
The Prince’s Trust
If you are between the age of 18 to 30 and considering starting your own business, The Prince’s Trust provides a free enterprise programme – a four stage process to take you from business idea to official launch.
It offers services ranging from training and mentoring support to funding and resources – all to help you become the best entrepreneur you can be.
And if you are considering where to start on your business journey, its team also offers a series of free online courses.
Gloucestershire County Council
Gloucestershire County Council has what it calls an Ask Us Business Service, available free to help county businesses of all sizes and sectors.
The service provides ‘free targeted mailing lists for your marketing needs, whether you are working on a direct marketing campaign, looking to target highly lucrative and relevant markets, or conducting a business analysis by region or industry’.
It can also provide company reports from its comprehensive business database and advice on how to get your business started.
A cyber community and connections like no other
Gloucestershire is the self-proclaimed ‘cyber capital’ of the UK with more firms in the sector in the county than anywhere else outside of London.
It means you should have the pick of firms to manage your IT needs or expertise to help grow your cyber business – ¬as well as the benefits of mixing with and sharing ideas with like-minded businesses.
That is where Hub8 and CyNam come into their own. Hub8 being the county’s dedicated network of workspaces for cyber firms and CyNam, the exceptionally well-connected networking group linked to Hub8.
.The Fredericks Foundation provides business support and loans for entrepreneurs who have not been able to secure funding for all or part of their venture from mainstream lenders like banks and building societies.
Businesses can be at any stage in their journey and may require money to start-up; capital to expand or funds to bridge a gap.
Whether you are a sole trader, in a partnership or have a limited company you may be eligible for a loan, which range from £2,500 to £35,000.
Gloucestershire Enterprise Ltd
Gloucestershire Enterprise Ltd (GEL) delivers training and support services to individuals and businesses across Gloucestershire.
A member of the National Enterprise Network, GEL provides ‘a comprehensive range of affordable and accessible support with high levels of customer service’, which includes business advice sessions, mentoring and a range of business startup programmes.
Stroud District based individuals and businesses can currently access subsidised support from GEL through funding provided by Stroud District Council.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
The Federation of Small Businesses is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms.
Non-profit making and non-party political, the FSB was formed in 1974 and now has 215,000 members.
Its connections give it access to all manner of free advice from funding and support to training, mentoring and networking and membership gives you access to that and more.
Department for International Trade
The Department for International Trade (DIT) helps businesses export and grow into global markets and is there to help UK businesses.
It can also help overseas companies locate and grow in the UK. Its services are provided in more than 100 markets throughout the world.
Its network of trade advisors will work with businesses to help link them with the right UK partners and suppliers through meet-the-buyer events, networking receptions and product launches.