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In order for a small business to develop and grow, support is required from various sources to offer coaching, mentoring, expertise and finance. There are a number of services and products which are available from the government, although specified criteria must be fulfilled in order to apply. Government support can help a business at all stages, from starting up to becoming successful. Challenges regarding finance and the economy may also be overcome using government support, in addition to becoming a successful exportation company and using research and development.

A government grant is a specified amount of money which is given to a business or individual for a specific purpose. There are usually conditions attached to a government grant, but if you stay within the conditions you won’t have to repay the grant. Grants may be attached to a particular industry or sector, or maybe even a specific geographical area including regeneration areas. The process of applying for a government grant can be time consuming and complex, and your application won’t be guaranteed acceptance, especially if there is a lot of competition.

The government provide financial support in the form of grants, but also offer guidance and expert advice to help your business. Obtaining a government grant for your business can be a tough process as the eligibility criteria are strict. The location of your business may be a factor for applying for a grant. Areas which have high levels of unemployment or social deprivation may be awarded extra grants. Your business may need to have a certain number of employees or have a specified turnover. For instance, a number of grants may only be awarded to businesses with less than 250 employees. There are also restrictions in a number of sectors defined by the European Commission, which can limit funding in a particular area.

Grants are typically awarded for a specific purpose like improving offices, purchasing new machinery, increasing the workforce and moving into exporting. The awarding body will expect to see a level of commitment from the business, with specified targets and achievable results. Government grants aren’t usually awarded to projects that have already commenced, as a grant is typically awarded to a specific project or purpose which hasn’t yet started. Terms and conditions of a government grant are strict and have to be adhered to throughout the term. Failure to abide by the conditions may result in the grant being repaid.

Government grants don’t usually cover all the costs involved and a business is expected to contribute. A number of awarding bodies will expect your business to match the amount being awarded, perhaps being only a percentage. Your business may be awarded 60 percent of the costs, on the condition that the business provides the remaining 40 percent.

Preparation before applying for a government grant is advised, ensuring that the business meets all the conditions of the scheme. The application for the business grant should include a detailed description of the project, details of the potential benefits of the project and a business plan which outlines the full costings. Including relevant experience of yourself and any other managers is advisable. It could take anything up to a year to hear whether the government grant application has been successful or not.

An application may be rejected for a number of reasons and it may be useful to ask for feedback if this is the case. Some of the possible reasons for not being accepted include a lack of facts to back up statements in the application, or the importance of the funding to the success of the project not being made clear. Seeking professional guidance before preparing and submitting an application for a government grant is advisable.

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