“As the service is free and with no commitment, it is a great help to young entrepreneurs who are looking for some good business advice in their local areas”
The Business Advice Service (BAS) was set up five years ago after a spotted ‘window of opportunity’ lent itself to the ICAEW offering a free.of.charge support service, providing professional advice for owner.run businesses, start.ups and SMEs. Following the closure of local Business Links, and the development of these services into a central website (gov.uk), the ICAEW took the opportunity to develop their own business support programme that was locally based around the country, and at the same time give members of the institute the opportunity to have a face.to.face with local businesses offering free advice in the form of an initial ‘no strings attached’ consultation on any financial matters they may have. There are now almost a quarter of all institute firms who offer the BAS service and the BAS logo is clearly evident on their search engine. There is a simple online form of general information to complete, which can be dealt with locally from the outset or handled through the institute to be passed on to one of their supporting firms. Alternatively potential clients are free to directly contact a local practice or practitioner.
BAS has active marketing support and publishes a daily blog, covering topical comments and issues on accountancy, tax and business. Guest bloggers are also invited to contribute and some of the leading financial firms play an active role in this– past contributors include Barclays and crowdfunding organisations. The blogs are factual with no advertising, and are kept ‘newsy’ with regular updates. There is further support by an active social media campaign ‘The Pulse’, which aims to give the very best Twitter business news, views, trends and influencers in a single.page snapshot.
BAS has a good presence at business exhibitions and will often be found with their own stand, with plenty of informative leaflets (of which there are currently 15) and information from institute staff who support the initiative. There are also regular initiatives and courses available. Growth Hubs, where local public and private sector partnerships, led by the Local Enterprise Partnership, bring public and private sector partners together in order to promote, co.ordinate and deliver local business support and provide a mechanism for integrating national and local business support so it is easy for businesses to access. In addition there are finance management days and Start Up Saturday – a light and fun interactive morning for entrepreneurs with new ideas and business proposals.
Talking with Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise at ICA based at One Moorgate Place (pictured), he is proud that this initiative has grown to around 4,000 offices who support the initiative and act as members. They are expected to reply promptly to any enquiries and this in turn offers the firms a “good avenue for potential new clients”. A great deal of the applications come from entrepreneurs – “as the service is free and with no commitment, it is a great help to young entrepreneurs who are looking for some good business advice in their local areas.”
BAS fields a number of important queries that arise from entrepreneurs and SMEs, and the decisions that are taken in the early years of business can be the most difficult as well as the most important, particularly if you are a first.time entrepreneur. Running your own business can be an immensely rewarding experience – there are around half a million new start.up businesses in the UK alone. BAS will offer support and sound advice, allow new business owners to consider the best options for them before taking the plunge, first steps are crucial and will help give new businesses the best start and a firm foundation on which to grow.