Running your own business can be incredibly rewarding. It can be an opportunity to do something that you love, and work in a way that suits your lifestyle.
But setting up and running a business is not without its challenges, and it's important to get good advice to help your business to succeed.
If you are thinking about starting your own caring business, there is a free course being run by the Eastern Enterprise hub starting this February. Could you be a care sector entrepreneur? Read more...
Starting and growing your business
The government's main website, Great Business contains information about starting up and running a business in England, including help if you're self employed or a sole trader.
They also operate a business support helpline, which offers support for people with a business idea, anyone looking to start a business for the first time, and for any new start-up or any existing businesses wishing to improve and grow their operations.
You can call the Business Support Helpline 0300 456 3565 or go through web chat via the website.
GrowthAccelerator is a service provided by leading business growth specialists, delivering uniquely tailored advice to businesses. It's a partnership between private enterprise and government. It can help with attracting investors, developing new products, and networking with business experts.
Mentorsme connects companies with mentoring organisations that can support and guide their growth.
The Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme helps unemployed young people aged 18-30 work out if their business ideas are viable and whether self-employment is right for them. The programme can offer support and, for those that really need it, financial support to start a business, or mentoring support to secure goals in employment, education or training.
If you're over 50 and looking for support on your journey to self-employment, visit the Later Life website and Age UK, for information and advice through all stages of self-employment - from start-up to establishing your business in its sector.
Support for businesses in Essex
Support for Southend and South Essex Businesses can be found on the Business Southend website. Click through for more information.
To find out about support available for businesses across the rest of the county, visit Essex County Council's Business advice and support pages on their website.
Business Southend includes information relevant to Essex.
GLE Group provides a range of financial products to unlock the potential of businesses and organisations across the UK, from grants and loans, to cashflow and equity finance.
The Business Growth Fund is a £2.5 billion equity investment fund backed by five of the UK's largest banks. If you have sales of approximately £5 million - £100 million a year and need growth finance of around £2 million - £10 million, the fund may be able to help.
Finding business opportunities
Business Suppliers can offer you the opportunity to respond to the Essex County Council's tendering opportunities.
CompeteFor is a free service that enables businesses to compete for contract opportunities linked to major public and private sector buying organisations, such as Transport for London, Crossrail and the Metropolitan Police.
Contracts Finder is a free service for businesses, government buyers and the public. This service comes from government under its transparency commitment, and you can find live contract opportunities, closed tender documentation, contract awards and contract documents. You can also subscribe to email alerts to receive updates on existing or new items.
UK Trade Investment works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets, and encourage the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice.
Reducing costs and your impact on the environment
The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company providing specialist support to help business boost returns by cutting carbon emissions, saving energy and using low carbon technologies.
WRAP works to help businesses reap the benefits of reducing waste, developing sustainable products and packaging, and using resources in an efficient way.
Essex County Council's Invest in Essex Team delivers a programme of support for companies in Essex developing innovative products and services.
The Business & Intellectual Property Centre, at the British Library in London, is the place to go if you have a new idea for a business, service or product. It provides information on how to protect your idea or invention and provides free training, networking and support for business owners.
Designing Demand helps businesses discover how to become more innovative, more competitive and more profitable, through training, support and networking.
The Innovate UK Technology Strategy Board funds, supports and connects innovative businesses to accelerate sustainable economic growth.
Skills and Training
Essex County Council and the Essex Employment and Skills Board work closely with learning providers across Essex to ensure the skills and training needs of Essex businesses are met, with the aim of supporting economic growth.
Skills Adviser is an online resource offering small and medium-sized local employers a simple way to access and rate training providers across the region.
Jobcentre Plus Employer Direct online is a free service from Jobcentre Plus that allows you to notify jobs to the UK's most visited recruitment website.
Apprenticeships can make your organisation more effective, productive and competitive by addressing your skills gaps directly. They're designed to help your employees reach a high level of competency and performance.
Essex County Council's ESU Apprenticeship Team recognises the importance of encouraging young people to access opportunities in skills shortage areas. If you're running a business in Engineering, Science, Technology, Mathematics, Digital Technologies, IT, Health and Social Care, then you may want to find out more about the apprenticeships offered and the wage subsidies you can receive.
Health at work
The Health for Work Advice Line for Small Business is a free service that provides small business managers with the expert advice and support needed to help employees experiencing ill health, minimising the impact on the business.
Education and Training
If you would like to go back into studying, then contact a local college for more information on their learning opportunities.
But if you have special education needs or a disability, the Essex Local Offer website will point you to the wide range of organisations and services that can help young people get into employment.