FAQs and Top Business Tips

Q:What is Business Link?
A:Business Link is a national network of organisations providing support and advice to small and medium-sized businesses. We are partly funded by the DTI, so the services we offer are extremely affordable. At the core of our work is our team of advisers: professional, experienced business people who work with you to improve your company’s performance.

Q:Do we have to have a contract of employment for employees?
A: We strongly recommend that you have a written contract of employment with your employees. The legal minimum requirement is that you provide a written principle statement of terms of conditions. Without a written contract, a court or tribunal may have to make assumptions about an implied contract. For further advice on drafting contracts and employment law, contact us.

Q:What sort of training is available for my staff?
A: We run an extensive programme of events, seminars and masterclasses to support management and people development. Click here for details. We can also introduce you to other sources of training and support for your staff, such as the Learning Direct helpline. If you are interested in taking a company-wide view of how to get the best from your people, you might want to consider the Investors in People (IiP) standard. We may be able to help you with the cost of achieving IiP and also with the cost of management and staff development to help you get even better value for money.

Q:How can I raise finance to build my business?
A: There are so many different types and sources of finance. Identifying and choosing the most appropriate source requires a good understanding of your business and its needs. Our Business Advisers can help you to work out how much money you will need to raise and to consider the pros and cons of the options, from venture capital to invoice discounting. We have an extensive network of contacts which can be used to help you raise the finance for your business needs. Contact us for further guidance.

Q:How do I get my website to come top of the list on search engines?
A: Firstly, ensure that the design of your site is optimized for searching with appropriate meta-tags and keywords. Next, submit your site details to search engines regularly and frequently. If you still don’t know what to do, call Business Link to speak to one of our e-business advisers or ask us to send you our list of e-commerce seminars and workshops.

Q:Can you get me information on my competitors and markets?
A: Yes! We have access to all kinds of business intelligence, including: financial reports and analyses on companies; reports on over 300 market sectors (size, growth, key competitors, etc); bench-marking data; press and internet searches; and much more. We can also carry out surveys of your customers this often gives you valuable information about how they see you and provides you with opportunities to win new business.

Q:Do you give grants for starting up or developing businesses?
Business Link does not provide grants or loans directly to any individual or enterprise, but we are able to access funding for some business support subsidies. Business Link can also identify sources of grant funding and business advisers offer help and advise with applications.

Q:Can you recommend an accountant, solicitor or other professional consultant?
We cannot make recommendations on which particular professional you should use but we can put you in touch with the appropriate professional bodies who will be able to help you. We also maintain a database of management consultants and specialists as well as providing you with the help you need to get the most of of your consultant.

Q:One of my customers wants me to start selling to their sister company in Germany. Help!
Don’t panic! We have a team of specialist advisors who have practical experience of exploring to countries all over the world. We can offer you support in developing an export strategy and help with practical issues such as logistics, documentation and getting paid. We also run a programme of visits to a variety of countries so that you can go and make contact with customers.

Q:My business is growing so fast that I am having to deal with business issues that I’ve never faced before. Where can I get some practical support from someone who knows what it’s like?
Our Business Advisors know how it feels to run a business. We have people with personal experience of building and running businesses in a wide range of sectors. They work with clients just like you, to provide long-term support and advice to help you realize the full potential of your company. If you need advice on a very specific issue, or just need someone to talk through your ideas with, call us on 0845 6000 787.

Q:How does the new Small Business Service relate to Business Link?
The Small Business Service (SBS) is an organization set up by the government to co-ordinate support offered to small businesses and represent their interests in government. Business Links are one of the delivery arms of the SBS and will continue to provide a full range of services to start-up, small and growing businesses.
Business Links are currently undergoing a reorganization aimed at ensuring a higher quality and consistency of service to clients. From the customers viewpoint there will be a seamless changeover and the Business Link brand will remain.