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The Top 5 Sources of Business Advice and Support

Getting vital business support and advice can help your business growth and productivity

There are many and varied reasons that your business may be seeking some business advice and, potentially, access to some specific support. It could be that you are looking for specific advice about funding a new investment or product development project. It may be that you are planning on taking on more staff and you want advice about the best way to grow your team and the additional responsibilities that may result. You may be looking for advice for the best way to boost your marketing efforts or the best way to implement the digitalisation of your business.

You may already be a fast-growing company but are looking to accelerate that growth even further and become a scaleup company. These have a disproportionately large impact on economic growth, as they typically create highly skilled jobs, drive up productivity and boost the UK’s competitiveness.

Whatever the reason is for needing support and advice, there can often seem to be an overwhelming number of options to consider. A wide range of organisations and businesses provide support, but it can be daunting to know where to begin.

Here is the BizEquals guide to finding the right support you need.

Government provides a huge range of advice

Some people may feel that government is not the first, natural step towards finding the support and advice their business may need but the government puts a lot of effort into provide programmes that can provide businesses with the right advice they need to boost their growth and productivity. The administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own dedicated advice and support sites as well.

Much of the advice and support is free but they also act as a gateway to a broader range of services, some of which may be paid.

N. Ireland:

Links to these sites and their telephone support lines can be found on our Business Support page.Telephone support lines can be found here.

They also provide a wide range of online guides, addressing several the common areas that businesses need support in. These include help with tax issues, help with exporting, or even advice for writing a business plan.

If you are considering starting your own business, there is an extensive range of advice covering all the areas you need to consider. They include an overview of the different types of legal structure, the rules you have to follow and the responsibilities you will take on, especially when taking on employees.

The government has also launched a flagship programme, the Help to Grow: Management Course which provides an extensive support programme, including training, 1-1 support from a business mentor, peer learning sessions, and access to an alumni network. The training topics include leadership, marketing, employee engagement, and financial management.

The programme is 90% funded by the government so you only pay £750 (N.B. eligibility criteria apply). It is delivered in partnership with the Small Business Charter, a group of leading business schools, found throughout the country.

Export Advice

Exporting is beneficial to companies and the government is keen to help more companies, especially SMEs, to export more. The Department for International Trade has a dedicated website to providing all the information and advice you need to export more. It also has an excellent series of guides that look at a very wide range of countries, relevant sector opportunities in those markets and a wide range of export opportunities from around the world.

Local Growth Hub

38 Local Enterprise Partnerships exist across England. They are business led partnerships between local authorities and local private sector businesses. They are based on the idea that utilising local knowledge about economic priorities and current economic activity is the best way to drive economic growth and employment.

Whilst the government’s very recent review and white paper has decided that these LEPs should transition into broader local democratic institutions where they exist, the Growth Hubs that each LEP set up continue to provide a fantastic signposting service, guiding local businesses towards a wide range of local advice, programmes, events and support.

Find your local growth hub here.

Business Schools

Business schools are perhaps an overlooked resource for businesses looking for advice and support. In the past, they were perceived as focusing on academic study and research, rather than translating that academic rigour into practical support and advice for their local business community.

In an attempt to both change this perception and help boost local economic growth, a new Small Business Charter was set up to recognise those business schools that provide a high standard of support to local businesses. The Help to Grow Management course is run by members of the SBC across the country.

There are 55 business schools across the UK that have received this award. They can help your business in a wide range of different areas. Some examples include:
  • Business Consultancy
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
  • Research projects
  • Research facilities
  • Staff development
For a broader look at business schools, and the role they play in the wider business support ecosystem, see our Business Schools page. To find your nearest business school, see the Small Business Charter website. 

Your Local Council & Local Chamber of Commerce

In keeping with the theme that local voices can articulate the needs of local business and economic development best, your local council and chamber of commerce are often the best first port of call for any business looking for advice and support. Whilst not every location is served by an active chamber (there are 53 across the country), your local council’s economic development team will provide a similar service, providing a gateway to a wide range of different services, support programmes and events that can help your business grow.

Find your local council:

Find your local Chamber of Commerce:

Online Resources

There are hundreds of different organisations dedicated to providing business support and advice.

One of the best ways of finding one suitable for your needs is through the National Enterprise Network, a membership organisation dedicated to the provision of support and advice for local businesses. They have a searchable directory of business support members, including not-for-profit enterprise support organisations, enterprise agencies, Chambers of Commerce, local authorities, and a wide range of other specialist providers.

You can search their members directory here:

If, initially at least, you want to find out about your query or issue online, there are some great websites dedicated to providing a wide range of information and guides. Some of the best we have found are:

Wenta: a wide range of free webinars, workshops, training and resources

Entrepreneur Handbook: a wide range of online information and guides a wide range of online information and guides

Startups: a wide range of information and guides, centred on startups, technology, finance and workplace & staff

Enterprise Nation: online resources and a network of business advisers

RealBusiness: wide range of information and guides