Directory: BUSINESS SUPPORT
(Latest news of opportunities for local creatives can be found on the What's New page.)
BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: self-employed & partnerships
:: StartUp Britain - offers new entrepreneurs access to �1,500 worth of support via the website. The package of assistance includes free services from the likes of AXA, Barclays, Experian, Google, Intel, Microsoft, McKinsey & Company, O2 and Virgin Media. Many other leading firms have agreed to provide free desk space, mentoring, marketing, and advertising to new start-ups. Even school kids who want to practice their business skills will qualify for new �10 loans, helping them set up their own playground or other enterprises! StartUp Britain is a not-for-profit company, not funded by the government. See also the "taking on an employee" five-step toolkit (2012).
:: Burslem Live/Work - live/work units and retail in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
:: BizFizz - has a local representative and coaches start-up businesses in Stoke-on-Trent. Funded by the Coalfields Trust.
:: Staffordshire Business Innovation Centre - runs one-day training days.
:: WIRE Staffordshire (Women in Rural Enterprise for Business).
:: The Hub - based at Stafford and offering business support services for rural Staffordshire.
:: The Crafts Council - has various schemes that provide financial, business and professional development support for craft makers.
:: NESTA: Investment & Innovation - grants to support innovation, up to £50k. Available to businesses of less than 5 people.
:: The Design Trust - offers a free 40-page guide to starting a design-based business.
:: PRIME - the national charity which helps people aged over 50 to set up in business. They have loans of up to £5,000 available.
The Inland Revenue in Stoke-on-Trent offers free one-to-one visits & workshops on starting a new business, including people starting out in self-employment.
BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: small & medium companies
:: North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce - based at Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent. Information about neighbouring Chambers can be found at the West Midlands Chambers hub, and the adjacent South Cheshire Chamber can also be useful for larger firms to join.
:: - the Staffordshire inward-investment agency. Useful for larger creative businesses seeking to relocate here from outside the area.
:: Make It Stoke-on-Trent - the city's inward investment office.
:: North Staffordshire Business Growth Network for those operating in local professional services. Launched Oct 2012.
:: The local universities have business support and liason sections on their website: Staffordshire University's For Business, and Keele University's Business Support.
:: Business Enterprise Support: Staffordshire - offers a four-month business training scheme, which is subsidised. They also offer specialist women-only support.
:: Business Brokers - run a trading fair for North Staffordshire companies, and can provide individual business support.
:: The Late Payment Act - enables small businesses to charge interest on late payments due to them.
BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: exports
:: Considering venturing into exports? Need to evaluate the risks of doing business with a particular country? The government�s Overseas Business Risk Service is a free service which assists British companies, particularly those exporting to high growth and emerging markets.
:: The government's UK Trade & Investment has a Web hub for exporters. Staffordshire County Council also has a central page for the county's exporters.
BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: business networking events
:: Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce - based at Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent.
:: Finest - the main business networking club for professionals in North Staffordshire.
:: Business Network International: North Staffordshire.
:: Federation of Small Businesses: Staffordshire and West Midlands Region.
BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: graduates & youth
:: After a slow start in 2012, the UK's Startup Loans service has now loaned "more than �10 million" to 18-30 year old entrepreneurs in the UK. They now report that they have another �5.5 million to spend, taking the Startup Loans fund to �117.5 million. The service is intended for those who would rather start a business than go to university, and offers the equivalent of the low-rate student loan to fledgling entreprenuers.
:: The Prince's Trust - supporting people aged 18-30 starting in business. The Trust has an office in Stoke-on-Trent.
:: Staffordshire University has BE Inspired - a support programme for graduate startups.
:: Staffordshire University Creative Village - managed workspace for graduates, located on the Stoke-on-Trent campus and conveniently near the train station.
:: West Midlands Graduate Advantage - provides internships for unemployed graduates.
:: Burslem's 6Towns Radio has available... "discounts [on radio advertising] to new business startups trading in Stoke-on-Trent". They also have the ideal vehicle for ads for new creative firms and services, in the form of the regular Leeka's Kulture Klub show on Wednesdays. Interested? Email:
:: Young Enterprise - a charity of 12 regional organisations, bringing volunteers from business to work with teachers and pupils.
BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: research & development
:: R&D Tax Credits - small and medium-sized businesses spending over £10,000 on Research & Development can get tax credits of up to 150%.
:: CIF Management Consultants - based in Stoke-on-Trent. Formerly the Ceramics Industry Forum.
SPECIALIST BUSINESS SERVICES: leads & tenders
:: Contracts Finder lists all UK local and national government contracts worth over �10,000. Charities and social enterprises also have the similar Funding Central.
:: The Sentinel newspaper: business section (each Wednesday).
SPECIALIST BUSINESS SERVICES: intellectual-property
:: Swindell & Pearson - large legal firm, specialising in providing expert Intellectual Property advice on all aspects of design, copyright and trademarks. Offices at Federation House, Stoke town (Stoke-upon-Trent).
:: Grindeys Corporate Legal Services - long-established legal firm based in Stoke. Stephen Grocott is their partner who specialises in Intellectual Property law.
:: The Patent Office - Guidance for Designs & Designers on the new Design Registration service in the EU.
SPECIALIST BUSINESS SERVICES: online selling
:: - has an excellent reputation, and because it sells only hand-made items it has consistently strong visitor numbers. Folksy is also worth investigating.
:: Lulu - online shops for selling your print-on-demand (POD) books. They also offer an affordable route to get your POD books onto Amazon UK. For printing higher-quality POD photobooks, see Blurb.
SPECIALIST BUSINESS SERVICES: apprentices
1,600 Pre-Apprenticeships, targeted at 16-18 year olds
:: The �15m Creative Employment Programme launched in Manchester in 2013. Over the next 2 years this �15m programme will aim to generate:
2,900 Apprenticeships, targeted at 16-24 year olds
2,000 paid Internships, targeted at 18-24 year olds
:: At March 2013 normal apprenticeships are available, with funding of �1,500 per apprentice available via the local F.E. Colleges in North Staffordshire.
:: West Midlands Graduate Advantage - provides internships for unemployed graduates.
SPECIALIST BUSINESS SERVICES: venture capital & loans
:: Enterprise Finance Guarantee - provides loans to small businesses which can't obtain loans from traditional lenders.
:: Coalfields Enterprise Fund - makes commercial venture capital loans from �40,000 to �500,000, in ex-coalmining areas, of which North Staffordshire is one.
:: UK Steel Enterprise - offers unsecured Access to Finance loans of �25,000 and �750,000 to suitable small businesses creating "sustainable jobs" in ex steel-making areas, of which Stoke-on-Trent is one. Also available in parts of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
:: The Prince's Trust can provide help to people aged 18 to 30, to enable them to become self-employed in the creative arts. The Princes Trust have an office at Shelton Enterprise Centre in Stoke-on-Trent, and are able to make low-interest business loans up to a maximum of £5,000.
:: The Innovation Networks scheme for the West Midlands is set to run to March 2015. The scheme offers small �10,000 grants to West Midlands projects that are... "...truly innovative, resulting in a new product, process or service and provide tangible benefits for the West Midlands economy".
:: Michelin Development Fund has �1-million of unsecured loans (from �5,000 each) on offer to small businesses in North Staffordshire.