Guiding new businesses the key to helping them flourish
A central communication point and better financial education are key to helping new companies flourish in North Lincolnshire, according to a panel of business representatives.
The views came in the second of two round table discussions hosted by the Scunthorpe Telegraph, in association with UK Steel Enterprise.
Delegates from newly-established firms, potential companies and business support agencies were involved in the discussion.
Its main themes were how to support more small and start-up businesses in the region and how to inspire a culture of entrepreneurship.
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Peter Millar, of the North Lincs Developments support agency, feels more could be done to provide information for new companies.
He said: "There appears to be a lack of information and guidance out there.
"There is a lot on the Internet.
"But with the demise of Business Link and other providers, there is not a lot out there in terms of centralised information and mentoring, which I think there is a great need for in the area.
"We are all concentrating on funding but the knowledge and acumen to support new businesses is just as important."
Jenny Couch, head of area renaissance, special projects, regeneration and planning for North Lincolnshire Council, said the local authority is involved with initiatives to get people interested in business at an early age.
These include the Make £5 Blossom project, a project supported by UK Steel Enterprise, where money loaned by businesses is handed to primary school children. They are then tasked with finding ways of making the funds grow.
Mrs Couch said: "What we are trying to do is to get young people to think about what an entrepreneur is and maybe that they might be able to start their own business in years to come."
Another area of discussion around the table was how small businesses can sometimes struggle with finance and expansion.
Steve Fields, a partner at Forrester Boyd accountants, believes risks could be managed out by having a clear business plan.
He said: "What I will say to clients is can you put your business dream down on paper, explain it and put it in figures?
"If family money is to be used, funds borrowed or a home put at risk, the consequences need to be considered.
"A lot of people don't take that initial step of looking for support or advice before borrowing, which can also be really risky.
"It's best to get business planning advice at the same time as accessing funds.
Places to turn to for funding were also discussed.
Keith Williams, regional manager of UK Steel Enterprise, said: "There are loans and small-scale funding available from a combination of sources in the area including our unsecured loans, to which we sometimes add discretionary grants.
"Bees Knees and North Lincs Developments are able to provide loans and the Regional Growth Fund project is looking at ways of providing small grants to the smallest businesses.
"When we started our Kickstart Fund after the restructure was announced at Tata Steel, what we didn't want to do was replicate what anyone else was doing.
"We got together and said 'where are the gaps? Let's fill them in', which is what we believe we have done.