Janet’s List helps you discover and buy from independent brands by black women and women of colour from the UK - we ship to America.

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Business competitions and grants - free money?! (with COVID-19 update)

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COVID-19 update - information for businesses 

We are all trying to figure out how to navigate this unprecedented situation we find ourselves due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I have edited this blog to include some information that may be useful to small businesses upfront. Further down the blog is the information from the original blog (i.e. business competitions and grants that are worth looking at by small businesses) 

Overall, the key to navigating this current situation is to give your business as much runway as possible to get to the other side of the pandemic. This could be cutting down on all your non-essential expenses. This could be a deep-dive to see whether you can expand your revenue streams to include one that works in the social distancing context. This could be considering alternative short-term opportunities to bring in the money. This could be easing pressure on your obligations (tax, paying staff etc) and actively looking out for government support options. It is also important to build your resilience and lean into your support systems, in particular those that give you practical and tangible support.  

I am not reinventing the wheel, what I have done instead is to pull together a couple of links that may be helpful to small businesses/freelancers worried about the financial impact of Coronavirus on their business. 

  • If you self-employed or own a business and you are worried about paying your bill on time due to COVID-19, you might be eligible for ‘Time to Pay’ support. This is done on a case by case basis and HMRC a dedicated contact number: 0800 0159 559.

  • If you are a business with a team and are trying to figure out where to start with managing the impact, this checklist by the London Growth Hub is helpful in highlighting the high-level considerations. 

  • Also, look at what your insurance policy says. Most policies do not appear to cover pandemic related losses but there is no harm in looking to see exactly what is covered. ABI has guidance on this

I hope that is helpful - below is the original blog including links to business competitions and grants that may be of interest.  

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Business competitions and grants - free money?! 

In August 2018, I found myself getting on the tube at Heathrow holding a giant cardboard cheque of £2000. With 25+ stops to get home, you can imagine all the laughs, funny looks and comments I had on that journey! 

Janet’s List was one of 20 businesses picked for Heathrow’s ‘Exporting is Great’ competition (I still have that giant paper cheque!). That £2000 cheque was a useful springboard (which eventually led to our concept store in Amsterdam). Of course, the concept store cost was considerably than that sum; however this funding gave me the impetus to think outside the box and look for opportunities that I could execute outside of the UK. 

As business owners, we all know that money doesn’t grow on trees. Opportunities for ‘free money’ are few and far between for businesses. That said, it is always a good idea for businesses to look out for opportunities to apply for business competitions and grants.

At the same time, it is not always easy for business owners to find the time to submit detailed competition entries and/or to satisfy the requirements for grant funding. However taking the time to do so has ‘long-game’ advantages:

  • Putting together an application is a useful opportunity to crystalise your business journey and progress, articulate your success stories, refine your unique selling points and demonstrate how your business adds value.

  • Also, creating competition ‘blurb’ puts you in a position where you can (with amendments of course) easily submit applications for other opportunities at short notice. It is always easier to add to a good draft than to start from scratch at short notice.

  • If you do get picked, your business will benefit from a free injection of cash which can help you to progress areas of your business quicker than usual or give you runway to progress new ideas.

  • Quite often, these opportunities end up expanding your network, providing you with access to expertise as well as free PR opportunities. 

  • Even if you do not get picked, the process of applying may point you in the direction of other opportunities which are a better fit.  

    Below is a quick sweep of competitions/grants that may be of interest to some of you (or people in the network). Understandably, most grant funding tends to be focused on not-for-profit or community organisations. It is worth taking a close look at criteria as sometimes these may be more flexible. **Please look at the criteria, opening and closing dates as some of these may be close to expiry**.

    DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any of these competitions - I am simply sharing what I have seen out there in the last few weeks.   

    • Creative entrepreneurs under 30 should take a look at this competition by Deutsche Bank. The winner will get up to £20k investment to start or grow their business 

    • The Society of Authors has grants for writers (those commissioned by a British commercial publisher or have had this in the past). It includes non-fiction so presumably anyone with a business book in the works may be able to benefit from this. 

    • The Social Switch Project will be reopening grants in April. If you are a London based organisation, working with young people, you may be interested in this. They are particularly interested in applications for those that work with young people impacted by violence.

    • If you have a screen-based, story-telling business (niche!), look at this grant from Creative England. PS: London sometimes gets a raw deal when it comes to these grants (this one excludes London). 

    Finally, in our podcast ‘Making Money Moves’ we have had guests who have shared their experiences of winning competition, securing funding or obtaining grants at crucial points in their businesses. Listen to MDM Flow, Sheer Chemistry, Big Hair Care and others on this topic.

    Best wishes, 
    Janet