Caroline Eccles, co-founder of Lancashire-based film company Huckleberry Films, received a business grant of £2,000 from enterprise agency Hyndburn Enterprise Trust. She talks to SmallBusiness.co.uk about the process.
What is the Hyndburn Enterprise Trust and how did you find out about it?
It's an independent, not-for-profit enterprise agency which offers confidential and impartial business advice, support and information to new and established small and medium-sized businesses.
A friend started up her own business doing sports massage and beauty treatments in 2009, and was full of praise for the support she had got from the Trust. When my partner David and I were thinking about the possibility of setting up our own media business in 2010, I remembered what she had told me and got in touch with them.
I wasn't sure at that stage what the Trust might be able to offer, and initially, it was the prospect of a potential grant that attracted me to them, but I found their support in other ways was at least as valuable as the financial support.
What did you have to do to secure the business grant?
The first part of the process was attending free workshops, to find out more about setting up a business. There were lots of other people in a similar position to us at the workshops, and it was a good chance to find out more about the different aspects of business life, like accounting and marketing.
Over a period of time and meetings with our advisor, we completed a business plan, and looked at our hopes for the future. Our advisor then put forward our applications for funding, and there were certain conditions attached to it once we were approved; we had to have a business bank account, and attend several follow-up meetings with up-to-date accounts.
What were the conditions of the business grant, and what were the benefits?
We received £2000, which was divided into several payments over six months rather than a lump sum. We had already listed in our application what the grant would be used for, in our case to help us buy equipment for the business. We didn't have our own camera when we first set up, and had been driving to Manchester to rent one each time we had a job.
The grant meant that we could afford our own camera, and so we could be flexible with our availability for filming, being able to take on jobs at short notice. It also meant we saved a lot of time and petrol not having to drive to Manchester for equipment rental.
How much help is out there for small business regarding grants and should there be more?
We found that we were able to access the support we needed, but I don't know if it's the case in all areas. As we live in what's classed as a deprived area there was support available, but I know that some of it was postcode specific; you have to live in the "right" area to be able to access certain grants. Also I'm sure things have changed in the two years since we had our grant in terms of what funding is available.
Will you be looking for any other business grants?
It's not something we've been focusing on at this time, as our business is stable and it's not support that we've needed recently. But in the future we will be looking to expand, and I will look to research what help would be available for us, whether that be financial, advice, networking or something else.
How helpful was the grant overall?
It can be a really scary thing setting up your own business, and the support we received was invaluable for us at the time. It gave us a big confidence boost, knowing that a third party had enough faith in our plans and potential to select our business to support. The £2000 was a very welcome and vital injection of money in our first six months.
Do you have any advice for other businesses looking for financial help?
Check out if you have a local support and advice centre like the Hyndburn Enterprise Trust, and ask them for their advice or what they can offer you. They might be able to point you in the right direction for other support too.
For more information on business grants, check out the SmallBusiness Finance app, which has a dedicated grants section with comprehensive information on the grants available in the UK.