Even though every single business and entrepreneur we work with is different, they all have the same questions especially when starting out, so here are the answers to three of the questions you most commonly ask us:
Q: Are there any grants?
Ask any of the Business Advisors in Dungannon Enterprise Centre what their most commonly asked questions and I guarantee it’s ‘can I get a grant?’. The answer is often no! I’d argue that if you believe that your business truly adds value to customers and are committed to developing it then you can do it without a grant. Many of Mid Ulster’s larger businesses do receive grants from Invest NI whose aim is to support exporting and so they can offer grants to businesses with export potential. The Princes Trust can offer small grants to some participants of their enterprise programme who meet certain criteria, and there are some organisations who can provide grants to community organisations or individuals with a social enterprise idea such as Unlimited. Though for most entrepreneurs starting out in business in Mid Ulster there won’t be grant support. There are, however, other support options that don’t put cash in your hand but that provide support that would otherwise be very expensive such as Invest NI’s Innovation Voucher Scheme where businesses with an innovative idea can get a voucher for up to £5,000 worth of support for an innovation project from a university or college with skills in design, prototyping, engineering, and food innovation.
Q: I have an idea but where do I start?
Start by contacting Dungannon Enterprise Centre. The LaunchPad programme will be your first port of call giving you a free session with a business advisor who can answer your questions and signpost you to other relevant sources of support and funding. There are also lots of training programmes to help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to take your ideas further. My advice is, before coming to a meeting with an advisor sit down and brain storm what your business could look like – what are the features and benefits of your product or service, how will you make it/ provide the service, roughly how much money do you think you might need – and don’t forget to include your personal living budget, what strengths do you have that will drive the idea forward and what obstacles are you likely to face. Then make a list of questions to ask your advisor. This will mean that you are able to get the most out of your meeting.
Q: How do I get a loan?
There are lots of loan options including the bank, the Enterprise Northern Ireland Loan Fund, Credit Unions, and family loans. Our advice is always to price around and see who can give you the best loan rates. To get a business loan you will need a business plan – speak to whoever you intend to ask for a loan to see what they expect – some will want a large detailed document and others will ask for a more practical plan of action with figures that show realistic likely income and expenditure with a risk assessment and details of how you intend to pay the loan back if the business doesn’t work out.
To get the answers you need to get your business moving, call 028 87 723 489 to book an appointment with an advisor.