• Small business network wins opportunity to work with Government to develop a new  Online Marketplace for business
  • Part of Government’s £30m Growth Vouchers programme to test what impact business advice has on business growth.
  • Enterprise Nation’s winning proposal gathers private sector funding to help improve the quality of advice available to businesses participating in the programme, enabling them to get better value out of the vouchers being distributed
Emma Jones Growth voucher marketplace goes to small business network
Emma Jones Growth voucher marketplace goes to small business network

A small business network has announced it has been selected to deliver the Government’s £30m Growth Voucher marketplace.

Enterprise Nation, a small business itself, successfully competed for the opportunity to work with Government to build, market and administer the on-line marketplace, which will connect small businesses with business experts. The new service will be developed without any public sector funding and will be free for small business to use.

The single platform will make it much easier for businesses to find providers of strategic advice on key topics such asfinancial management, recruitment, leadership skills, sales and marketing, and digital technology.

Emma Jones MBE, founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain said: “This is an exciting initiative which could help accelerate the growth of thousands of small businesses at a critical stage of development – helping them to build long-term sustainability.

“At the moment, access to business advice is sporadic and highly variable with no means available to help businesses differentiate the good from bad. We want to address this by building a service that establishes suppliers’ credentials to offer advice from the outset and then continually seeks feedback on the quality of those services for everyone to see.
“By bringing together business advisers with the entrepreneurs that want to access good advice, we think the marketplace has the potential to deliver a significant boost to economic growth.”

In his report Growing Your Business 2013, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Adviser Lord Young said firms who ‘seek and engage external business advice are more likely to grow.  But much more needs to be done to encourage firms to invest in their capability.’

The Growth Vouchers programme will be launched early next year and vouchers will be available until March 2015. The programme will be using randomised controlled trials to help the Government gain a better understanding of the effect of business advice on growth and the wider economic implications of Government intervention.

Enterprise Nation has a membership of over 75,000 small and start-up businesses.  It delivers a comprehensive package of advice for entrepreneurs including tips and advice on starting and growing a business, expert events, and well-attended start-up courses across the UK.

The platform is funded by private sector brands.  These are technology specialist Toshiba, co-working expert Regus, cloud-based collaboration and data sharing software provider Citrix, telecoms brand Vodafone, cloud-based accounts, payroll software provider Sage One and EDF Energy which are showing their support for business by backing the initiative.

The scheme comes in the context of record numbers of start-up businesses across the UK, with more than half a million new registered companies expected by the end of 2013 for the first time.

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