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Top 10 tips for raising finance

No matter what type of finance you’re applying for - whether it’s grant funding, a loan or trying to attract private investors – improve your chances of success by following these top tips for raising finance.

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If you want to grow your business, chances are you're going to need to raise finance to help you achieve your goals. We recently launched a new grants application support service to make accessing grant finance easier for your business and there are a range of other options available. Read our top 10 tips for accessing finance to explore your options and find out how to improve your funding proposal. 1. Develop a targeted proposal. What do you need funding for? Who are you going to approach for funding? What kind of projects do they want to fund? 2. Consider all available options such as traditional bank funding, the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, invoice and asset finance, grants and soft loans. Choose the source of funding that will be most appropriate for your project. 3. Grant funding is still available from a wide variety of sources (regional, national and European) and for a wide range of funding purposes. It is increasingly sector-specific and becoming much more competitive to access, but nevertheless still worth checking if your business is eligible, as grant funding is generally non-repayable unless the funding criteria are breached. 4. Government funding cut-backs have cast uncertainty over much of the previously available support available through the Regional Development Agencies, but the picture varies across the country and other smaller grants are available through region or industry specific business transformation and resource efficiency programmes. 5. Government funding is still being made available through, for example, the Regional Growth Fund, the recently announced North West Fund and similar regional variations such as the Rosebud Fund in Lancashire, The Finance Yorkshire Fund, The East of Scotland Investment Fund, The West Midlands Growth Fund etc. 6. Consider soft loans. These are at different rates than commercial loans and are often obtained without the usual security requirements. These are available from local authorities, regional venture capital funds and the likes of Business Finance Solutions, the Carbon Trust or WRAP. 7. Grant funding is still available for research and development (R&D) projects. Funding depends on organizational size and how developed the R&D project is. R&D tax credits are also available as a rebate against research and development costs. 8. Funders/investors will require a quality business plan detailing key information to assess project viability. You must have researched your market thoroughly to prove to funders/investors you have identified an exploitable opportunity. An achievable forecast is essential so that the funder/investor can assess likelihood of obtaining a return on their investment. 9. Leave enough time to secure the relevant funding – in the case of grants, funding cannot be applied for retrospectively so you must apply before committing to any project. 10. Engage the help of specialist advisers who know the key decision makers. About the author This article was contributed by Beever and Struthers, chartered accountants and providers of the Forum's grant application support service.

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