Help to Grow scheme announced

Help to Grow scheme announced

The Prime Minister has announced the launch of a new £100 million Help to Grow pilot scheme that will enable fast-growing smaller firms to access finance and realise their growth potential. The scheme will provide 500 firms each year with financial support in the form of loans to help them grow from small to medium-size. According to the British Business Bank, most lenders target larger corporate firms seeking finance in excess of £10 million. This results in few opportunities for smaller high-growth firms to raise the funds they require, which typically range from £0.5 to £2 million. The British Business Bank will seek proposals in March from finance providers to deliver the pilot scheme.

Read more about the pilot scheme at:


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More young people considering self employment

More young people considering self employment

Three in ten young people believe they will be self employed in the future, while one in four expect to start up in business in the next five years, according to a survey by The Prince’s Trust and RBS. Although just 5% of young people are currently self employed, over a quarter are increasingly considering it. The main barriers to starting up in business were concerns about funding and a lack of support. Martina Milburn, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust, said “youth unemployment remains high and many are seeing self employment as a way to break the cycle of joblessness.”

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Start-Up Loans criticised for over-aggressive pitching to students

Start-Up Loans criticised for over-aggressive pitching to students

Start-Up Loan delivery partners and student ambassadors have been criticised by Enterprise Educators UK for over-aggressively promoting loan finance to students.

Enterprise Educators, the organisation representing 98 universities that teach and promote entrepreneurship, has complained to the Start-Up Loans Company that some of the delivery partners have promoted and agreed loans with some students that they would not have endorsed. They have also complained that existing support schemes for students have been “circumnavigated and disregarded” by certain delivery partners.

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Youth Entrepreneurship programme launched in Wales

Youth Entrepreneurship programme launched in Wales

A £4.4 million programme providing a range of services to encourage young business owners has been announced by the Welsh Government. The remit of the new Youth Entrepreneurship Services (YES) is to increase awareness and aspirations of business ownership among students from primary school age to higher education, through a range of activities including events, road shows and ‘entrepreneurship shadowing’ opportunities.

The programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is part of wider efforts by the Welsh Government to increase the number of young people aspiring to run their own business.

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Decision Making:

“Decision is like a sharp knife that cuts straight and clean, indecision a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges” Graham Gordon

All of us have to make decisions every day. Some decisions are relatively straightforward and others are definitely more difficult. Simple decisions usually need a simple decision-making process. Difficult decisions, however, typically involve a whole host of complex issues. Often there is uncertainty where many facts may not be known and you may have to consider many interrelated factors. There are decisions, too, that have high-risk consequences, and the impact of the decision may be significant for yourself and for others.

Every given situation has its own set of uncertainties and consequences, and anything that involves interpersonal issues can often be challenging as it difficult to predict how other people will react.

With these challenges in mind, the best way to make a complex decision is to use an effective process. A systematic approach will usually lead to consistent, high-quality results, and can improve the quality of almost everything we do.

A logical and systematic decision-making process can help you to address the critical elements that result in a good decision. By taking an organised approach, you’re less likely to miss important factors, and you can build on the approach to make your decisions better and better.

QuestionsTo create a constructive environment for successful decision making, you need to first of all establish your objective and define what you want to achieve. Once you have done this you will need to agree on the process and know how the final decision will be made, including whether it will be an individual decision or involve others. If you have to involve others it is so important to involve the right people and allow other opinions to be heard. Make sure, too, that you are asking the right questions and challenge yourself. Being creative will help too as the basis of creativity is thinking from a different perspective so this is good to do when you are first faced with the situation so that you can explore all your options.

The more good options you consider the more comprehensive your final decision will be.

When you generate alternatives, you force yourself to dig deeper, and look at the problem from different angles.


“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt


If you use the mindset “there must be other solutions out there”, you’re more likely to make the best decision possible. If you don’t have reasonable alternatives, then there’s really not much of a decision to make!

When you’re satisfied that you have a good selection of realistic alternatives, then you’ll need to evaluate the feasibility, risks and implications of each choice.

In decision making, there’s usually some degree of uncertainty, which inevitably leads to risk. By evaluating the risk involved with various options, you can determine whether the risk is manageable. Risk analysis helps you look at risks objectively. It uses a structured approach for assessing threats, and for evaluating the probability of events occurring.

After you have evaluated the alternatives, the next step is to choose between them.

With all of the effort and hard work that goes into evaluating alternatives and deciding the best way forward, it’s easy to forget to “sense check” your decisions. This is where you look at the decision you’re about to make dispassionately, to make sure that your process has been thorough, and to ensure that common errors haven’t crept into the decision-making process.

Once you’ve made your decision, it’s important to explain it to those affected by it, and involved in implementing it. The more information you can give to people about why you made a certain decision, the better. One of the key benefits of taking the systematic approach to decision making is that you will be able to analyse and evaluate your decision making process which will, in turn, make it easier to communicate. If you need support of others they will also feel more reassured that you have given consideration to your actions.

Once you have made your decision, accept that you have made the best decision based on the all information that you had at the time. Deliberation or indecision will hamper your progress so go for it and trust in a positive outcome.

Decision Making – Useful Tips

  • Identify your objective
  • Create the right kind of environment
  • Establish who else is involved
  • Explore the alternatives
  • Analyse your options
  • Conduct a risk assessment
  • Conduct a “sense check”
  • Make your decision and stick to it
  • Be assertive in how you communicate it
  • Believe in a positive outcome

Business Support Sector at Full Capacity and Struggling to Meet Demand

Business support and advice agencies are currently facing record levels of demand for their services at a time when restrictions in the availability of funding are seriously hindering their ability to maintain their levels of service.

The findings come from a survey of business support and advice organisations carried out by BAD News publisher Cobweb in October 2012, which has highlighted the challenges the business support sector is facing since the closure of Business Link a year ago. Enterprise practitioners representing 175 business support organisations took part in the survey.

Support agencies are experiencing increasing levels of demand, particularly from start ups and individuals considering self-employment, along with existing business traders who are in trouble. Over 80% of survey respondents said they are struggling to meet demand due to lack of availability of funding compared to two years ago, with almost 60% dipping into their own reserves to continue providing a full range of services.

Click here to read the full story on the Cobweb site…

Life Balance

“Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man’s being.” ~ Orison Swett Marde

Work-Life Balance is a phrase that has been bandied about since the 1970s. Personally, I think the term Work-Home balance is a better description.

Work-Life balance tends to imply that we go to work and we have a life! The reality is that many of us spend more time at work than we do at home and more time with our work colleagues than we do with our friends and family so it is a huge part of our lives.

Work is fast becoming the way in which we define ourselves. It is now answering some of the traditional questions like “Who am I?” and “How do I find meaning and purpose in my life?” Work is no longer just about economics; it’s about identity. About fifty years ago, people had many sources of identity: religion, class, nationality, political affiliation, family roots, geographical and cultural origins and more. Today, many of these, if not all, have been superseded by work.

Over the past thirty years, there has been a substantial increase in workload which is felt to be due, in part, to the use of information technology and to an intense, competitive work environment.

Long-term loyalty and a sense of corporate community have been eroded by a performance culture that expects more and more from employees yet offers little support in return.


Many experts forecasted that technology would eliminate most household chores and provide people with much more time to enjoy leisure activities. Unfortunately, many have decided to ignore this option, being egged on by a consumerist culture and a political agenda that has elevated the work ethic to unprecedented heights.


An alarming amount of absenteeism in the workplace is now stress-related and it is clear that problems caused by stress have become a major concern to both employers and employees. Symptoms are manifested both physiologically and psychologically. Persistent stress can result in a range of problems, including frequent headaches, stiff muscles and backache. It can also result in irritability, insecurity, exhaustion and difficulty concentrating.


It is now more important than ever that people learn to manage their work life and home life so that they create a better balance that reduces stress and promotes better long-term health.


“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home”

Betty Bender


The idea of work/home balance is further complicated by the fact that today’s workforce is more culturally diverse and also made up of different generations, each with its own set of priorities. Additionally, businesses are in various stages of their own life cycles. Instead of looking for a generic, standardised concept of work/home balance, we need to understand that it is our own responsibility to make sure that we implement personal strategies that help us to get a better perspective on how we balance our time and energy between the two.

One important thing is the distinction between work and home – and to be aware of the negativities that we can potentially carry between the two.

If we are not careful, it can become a bad habit that, at the end of a each busy day, we offload to our partners all our moans and whinges about our work day, thus infecting our home lives with the stress of work. A good habit to get into is spend time at the end of each day sharing your achievements and successes and focusing on the positive outcomes of the day.

Work and home life are equally important, and the key to happiness is about finding the right balance so you can get the best and the most out of both of them.

Work/ Home – Useful Tips:

  • Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day.
  • At the end of each day, set your priorities for the following day.
  • Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life.
  • Address concerns about deadlines and deliverables early.
  • Make sure you take all of your allocated holidays.
  • Create a buffer between work and home.
  • Decide what chores can be shared or let go.
  • Make time for exercise and relaxation.
  • When you get home, focus on positive outcomes from the day.
  • Pursue a hobby that has nothing to do with your work.


Work Home Life

Goal Setting:

“Man is a goal-seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals” Aristotle

Goals unlock your positive mind and release energies and ideas for success and achievement. Without goals, you simply drift and flow on the currents of life. With goals, you fly like an arrow, straight and true to your target. Setting goals gives us direction, purpose and focus in our lives.

The trick to managing your daily energy is to work on the more difficult things when you are alert and focused, and work on the easier stuff (or take a break) when you’re feeling lower in energy. To make the most of your time, work in short bursts or sprints and then recover. To maximise your energy, you need breaks.

There are lots of benefits to setting goals. First and foremost, they help you to develop clarity which is the first step to helping you achieve what you want in life.

You will develop a stronger FOCUS: whatever you focus on, you get more of; if you have clear goals and focus on them, you will get more of what you do and want and less of what you don’t want.

When you get clear about where you want to go, you set up steps and actions to get there. This increases your efficiency because you are working on what is really important. When you work on what’s important, you will accomplish more than you ever expected.

You will get what you really want in life, rather than settling for “whatever comes your way”.

As you set and reach goals, you become more confident in your ability to do what you say and get what you want in life.

“Success breeds more success.”

Only 3% of people have proper written goals, and according to research, these people accomplish 80% more than those who don’t. That’s an astounding difference, isn’t it?

A common acronym in goal setting is the possibly-familiar SMART goals, but what does it really mean and what is so smart about them?

The SMART acronym is used to describe what experts consider to be “good” goal statements because they contain most of the essential ingredients. Out of all the formulas I have come across for objective and goal-seeking, it is by far the best and the most easy to apply and stick to.

The SMART acronym itself has several different variations depending on who you ask. However, I think it is useful to look at all of them because it provides a well-rounded goal statement.


S – Specific & significant

M – Measurable, motivational, methodical & meaningful

A – Action-oriented & achievable

R – Realistic, relevant & recorded

T – Time-bound & tangible


The main reason that your brain needs goals is that it behaves as a goal-seeking mechanism, similar to a precision-guided missile. As these missiles fly, they continually make small adjustments and corrections to their trajectories to realign themselves to their target.


“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the
width of it as well.”

Diane Ackerman


Your brain also works in a similar way. Dr Maxwell Maltz, author of the classic Psycho-Cybernetics, said that human beings have a built-in goal-seeking “success mechanism” that is part of the subconscious mind.

This success mechanism is constantly searching for ways to help us reach our targets and find answers to our problems. According to Maltz, we work and feel better when our success mechanism is fully engaged going after clear targets.

All we have to do to use this mechanism is to give it a specific target. Without one, our success mechanism lies dormant, or worse, pursues targets we didn’t consciously choose.

The key with goal setting is to assertively take control of what we want and to identify exactly what it is that we really want to achieve with a clear understanding of why we want to.

The benefits of goal setting and goal achievement are numerous. It allows you to become more empowered and altogether more responsible for your own destiny and personal success. It also helps to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence which, in turn, has many physical, emotional and mental health benefits.

Goal Setting – Useful Tips

  • Embrace the benefits of what you want to achieve
  • Set goals that are personal to you and that you are committed to
  • Understand specifically what it is you want to achieve
  • Know how to measure your goals
  • Ensure that your goals are achievable
  • Write your goals down
  • Make sure that you set timelines
  • Use positive affirmations
  • Believe in yourself
  • Don’t give up


Set Goals