There is a lot of help for businesses out there, you just have to look. Much of it is free, either from local authority business development teams, associated organisations or online. Yet the numbers of people who are helped, in my opinion, is a drop in the ocean compared with the number of businesses that could do with help.
My experience in working with Justin and Creative Fuse is that all businesses need help of some sort or another. Big businesses have either the resource to help themselves or the money to pay for consultants.
Small businesses are different however. They have their heads down, working hard to pay their bills and have little time to draw upon this free resource.
Listening to Justin during a meeting with one of the local authorities, made me realize that there is another way to offer support, by targeting service companies that already work with small businesses.
All businesses except possibly the smallest buy some services. This may be an accountant, a graphic designer, a logistics company or a marketing expert. They buy these services because they recognise that they need help in these areas, or they don’t have the bandwidth to deliver them themselves. They buy them from specific companies because of availability and trust. Many are engaged through word of mouth.
These then are the companies that can provide business support to small businesses. Teach accountants about where to find funding, teach graphic designers how to target sales online, teach logistics companies about cost reduction or business process improvement and teach marketing experts about emerging regional and national opportunities. Either teach them or show them where such support can be found.
Supporting the service providers, which may well be small businesses themselves, will do more to support their customers because they have greater and more regular contact. They also have their trust.