Sound Advice

Can ‘strategic advice’ generate real growth? A £30 million Growth Voucher scheme from the Department of Business thinks it can…

What is it?
Already six months old, the Growth Voucher scheme has helped hundreds of small businesses hire professional advisors to re solve the challenges of growth in Great Britain. Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s adviser on Enterprise has said about the scheme: ‘External, strategic advice is key to commercial success and has helped thousands of businesses to grow. I want to make it easier and more affordable for small businesses to access, and the Growth Vouchers programme is doing exactly this. I have received fantastic feedback from small business owners who have taken up this great offer, using the online marketplace to select a strategic advisor to help them shape their business growth and improve performance.’

What do you get?

  • The scheme operates on a matched funding basis up to a maximum voucher of £2,000. So, if you qualify and take the maximum voucher, you will need to find £2,000. A recent change in the scheme also means that the voucher element can be claimed back directly by your chosen adviser, making it easier on your cash flow. Advice is delivered in a range of business areas and includes: – Raising finance and managing cash flow
  • Recruiting and developing your staff
  • Improving leadership and management skills
  • Marketing, attracting and keeping customers
  • Making the most of digital technology A very important part to take on board with this scheme is you are buying strategic advice, so don’t expect your digital expert to come in and build your website or a finance adviser to audit your accounts.

How can it help?
Stuart Forrester, Director at The Forrester Corporation and one of the regional spokespersons for Cambridgeshire comments: ‘If we can get business owners to understand the importance of strategy, we can help them deliver better services, products and growth. For example in my specialist area of marketing, if a client can clearly articulate what their customer looks like and their goals, they can brief a marketing agency clearly to develop a campaign that engages the customer and is measurable. And the benefit? Reduced time to implement which reduces cost and with measures in place, a way to know if a channel is delivering the expected results and if not, to switch the resource to one which is delivering.’

What do businesses think of it so far? Here’s what one of Stuart’s recent Growth Voucher clients, Lee-Ann De Villiers of Choice Homecare, had to say about the scheme and experience: ‘It has invigorated my own thinking about new strands of marketing and brought about a more coordinated approach to our marketing. We are now getting better value from our marketing budget. I have always seen marketing as something I dread, something I to have to do, but now we have a strategy and clear goals in place which directs our actions much more. The Growth Voucher scheme is such good value for money.’

Andy Brooks of Peterborough-based Ampris has commented: ‘The aim of the Growth voucher has already been met because we are growing. In the six months since we have been taking advice, we have grown adding people and resources. In that six months, we have expanded substantially with some little tweaks that have made a huge difference. The reality was that we lacked joined-up thinking in the business around marketing. We wanted someone experienced and at arm’s length to help so we could put in place what we needed for a cohesive approach.’

How to qualify
Your business must:
■ have 249 employees or fewer (including any employees of companies that own a stake in your business)
■ be registered in England
■ actively sell goods or services
■ be independent (ie no more than 25% is owned by other businesses or organisations)
■ have a turnover of less than €50 million

Details you’ll need to apply You’ll need the following things to complete your application:
■ Companies House registration number or Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) from HMRC
■ registered business address
■ business turnover details
■ VAT registration number (if you’re registered)
■ PAYE number (if you have one)
■ contact phone number
■ email address

To find out more about the Marketplace and Growth Vouchers programme, go to

To apply for the Growth Voucher scheme, go to

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