Take Advantage of £230bn

I read a very interesting article by Emma Jones from Enterprise Nation recently where she was encouraging small businesses to get ready to apply for government contracts in 2015. Forward planning is always something that we at the BIC encourage and so her message certainly rings home.

Here is an excerpt from her article:

The government spends £230bn every year on products and services including central government, local government, the police, NHS, emergency services etc

If you thought that spend only goes on big ticket items like roads and rail, think again. Across the annual spend of £230bn, the government buys:

IT services; Facilities management like plumbing, cleaning, landscape gardening; Catering; Uniforms; Pens and stationery; Taxi services etc etc

Maybe you also thought the process of selling to government would be beyond your time and financial budget; it will take too long and costs too much to go through the process and form-filling. Think again!

There is a government target to ensure 25% of all spend is spent on small business by May 2015. That’s not long to go and the government has a way to go to reach this target.

To smooth the process, a new version of Contractsfinder will go live in January 2015 with over £190 million in live projects for you to review. There will be links to LinkedIn so you can form groups to bid and you will also be able to see how previous contracts were awarded, and at what price. You can search by postcode to view opportunities in your area and, on securing a contract, government commits to paying within 30 days – and will do its best to ensure large suppliers do too if that’s the way you’ve chosen to secure a contract.

Think of it like this: the government is now firmly motivated to give as much business as possible to small business – and they’re making it a lot easier for you to play your part.

The best approach is to first of all determine your strategy ie do you want to sell to central or local government and do you want to sell direct or via a large supplier? Based on this, decide on the top 6 relationships you need to cultivate ie with large suppliers or direct with the buyers listed on Contractsfinder and then, talk to the buyers! They want to talk to you to explain what they’re after with the contract to ensure everyone gets the best result.

On 8 December Enterprise Nation will be hosting The Government Exchange in London. Perhaps you could attend to meet the buyers and see the version of ContractsFinder before it goes live in January?

Now It’s Time To Invest In Your Business

Preparing for a client visit for a company who was looking to expand and create new products it took me quite some time to update our current listing of funding opportunities for companies in Staffordshire.

Innovation requires patience.
We are currently awash with funding opportunities for small and large Capital Expenditure projects to Consultancy and Specialist Advice and Proof of Concept to Prototype Development. There are grants from 20% to 60% support, loan funding and equity investment finance available.

Even the banks are stepping up on their lending and it was interesting to read today that 7/10 bank loan applications are currently being approved!

The BIC itself has two funding schemes, one for capital expenditure and one to pay for specialist advice!

There are of course certain criterias you need to comply to to be eligible to apply but that is normal when we are talking about free or subsidised support.

So if you have a good project in mind, a current business plan, your accounts are in order and you are looking to grow and create new jobs then now is the time to invest!

A good place to start to see what support is available to you is the Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire Business Helpline on 0300 111 80002 or if you are in the world of innovation ring the BIC.

Business Boost 2014

CLOSING DATE 3rd August 2014

Business Boost Awards is the premiere competition in Newcastle-under-Lyme, which aims to help businesses achieve their future potential and growth. Through participation, businesses are encouraged to develop entrepreneurship and strategic thinking to help drive their business forward. The unique CASH AWARDS are presented to businesses that are able to demonstrate drive and ambition based on sound business planning.

Business Boost 2014

Business Boost 2014

Innovation Requires Patience

As Director of Innovation at the Business Innovation Centre I often read articles and papers on the subject of Innovation and like to relay some useful messages that come my way.

No more so than the following article – Innovation Requires Patience – which has really good sound advice for potential entrepreneurs . It was written by John Maddox who is a serial entrepreneur, public speaker, tech startup investor and currently Managing Director of DevDigital.

Innovation requires patience.
I know that seems counter-intuitive to driven entrepreneurs, but hang on, there is logic behind this statement.

The vast majority of people just don’t have the ability to see future possibilities until they exist and are being used by their peers. This may seem like a degrading statement, but it’s not.

Some people have the ability to see the future possibilities others don’t. Just as often, those who have entrepreneurial vision are totally incapable of turning the dream into a reality.

Accepting this truth as an innovator will give you the patience needed to make sure your vision becomes reality.

Patience With Family & Friends
When you have an innovative idea, especially one that directly impacts your life, frustration quickly grows when you can’t convince others of its validity. Those around you not being able to understand how this could change their lives seems outrageous.

When you allow this frustration to impact how you treat those close to you, they will begin to question your abilities. The people who are most likely to help you take risks can quickly become those most opposed to your dream. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because who you are as a person is more important to them than your “crazy” business idea.

Remember that all the hours you spend contemplating and planning your idea isn’t what they are doing. Be patient. Write down your idea. Think of analogies that will have relevancy to them. Not only will this help you prepare to counter objections, it also helps get you ready for customers and potential investors.

Patience Convincing Investors
On the investor side, they are already successful. The need to take risk isn’t something they have to do. It’s something they choose to do. More importantly they want to take risk, but only with the right people. 99% of investors will tell you that the person is more vital to success of their investment capital than the idea.

Since they are getting pitched hundreds of ideas, this means they have so much to filter through. On top of that, most of them have multiple companies, incredible responsibilities and decisions to be made on a daily basis.
So in terms of patience, never expect everyone to see the potential in your idea. You have a 1 in 50 chance of getting a yes from an angel investor, and 1 in 300 chance from a VC. Many startup founders give up after being turned down the first time. Don’t give up the first time.

Just like it’s hard to convince your friends and family, it takes time to connect with the right investors, identify objections and develop ways to counter them. Not just through words but expanded business logic, customer acquisition strategies, and proof of concept.

So Why Be Patient?
As you try over and over again to convince friends, family, bosses, or potential investors of your genius, remember that people just can’t see what is in your brain. Everything about entrepreneurship requires the courage to take risk. Since very few are ready to make that leap of faith, the ability to see beyond the here and now becomes even more limited.

Changing the status quo requires being able to paint so vivid a picture, your target customers and potential investors will be able to see the future created if they adopt your new product or service. Think of painting this picture just like an artist would. While the vision is there, it takes time, patience and expertise to create something of true value.

Since there is no way to escape this truth, it is much more efficient to just accept it and leverage to your advantage. When the inevitable panic sets in that someone else is going to beat you to the punch, just remember they are facing the exact same challenges as you.