Running your own small business can be very satisfying, but from time to time you will need a bit of support on decisions and next steps. Although you may be self-sufficient, you cannot be an expert in everything, so who can you turn to for impartial and practical advice? The people who are likely to be most knowledgeable about your own particular business sector are probably also your nearest rivals. If you are in trouble, do you want to approach them with your problems? Probably not. The good news is that there are a number of organisations that have been established to help people just like you with day to day issues relating to small business.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
The Federation of Small Businesses is a non-profit organisation, which means it is run by a group of members. It aims to help small businesses in many ways. Membership is open to UK-based sole traders, home workers and employers. The FSB has a large enough membership to represent wider small business interests, including lobbying the government in relation to legislation in both Westminster, and currently, Brussels.
What can the FSB offer my small business?
The range of services offered by the FSB is enormous and comprehensive. Here are some areas that are of interest to small business owners.
Employment law guidance and advice. This is a valuable service offering protection in the event you are taken to an employment tribunal. You have access to legal advice, and insurance cover of up to £1M per claim. Tax advice and investigation insurance. You can talk to ex-tax inspectors, who can offer advice and represent you in case HMRC decides to investigate you. Banking, insurance, health and safety, networking, cyber protection, online documentation – the list goes on. The FSB has a vast storehouse of knowledge, based on experience in the real world of small business.
The FSB charges a one-off joining fee, and then an annual subscription. The annual subscription varies depending on whether you have employees, and how many you have. However, the subscription is personal to you, not business-based. This means that if you are involved in more than one small business, you don’t have to pay multiple fees. The current fee structure is available on the Federation of Small Businesses website.
British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
The BCC is the centre of a network covering the whole UK. There are 52 individual Accredited Chambers of Commerce, each serving a local set of businesses. In total, there are tens of thousands of BCC members, of all sizes and in all market sectors, across the UK. Where the FSB focuses on small businesses, membership of a Chamber of Commerce covers all sizes of business.
The focus of the BCC includes campaigning for the interests of businesses, and service delivery to help businesses to expand and grow. The BCC also has a particular focus on support for private sector businesses in trading internationally, as it has access to partners across the globe. As we proceed with Brexit, international relationships are becoming even more critical. BCC membership could be the way to go if your small business has a vision of trading outside the UK. Further information and the location of your nearest Chamber of Commerce can be found on the British Chambers of Commerce website.
The FSB and the Chambers of Commerce are two of the largest support organisations. For specific help on finding schemes in your area, contact your local Growth Hub – these are business support organisations run by the local authority.
For more information on support for small businesses, email us at email@example.com or complete the form below.