Sole traders, micro businesses, and small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay are being reminded that they can still apply for 12 hours of fully-funded business support.
The Heart of the South West Growth Support Programme, overseen by Devon County Council, provides access to one-to-one business support and advice in an array of areas, including digital marketing. The programme is receiving up to £904,945 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for companies in the Heart of the South West area.
Plymouth-based Pixalytics, is among those who have already received support. This husband and wife team owns and runs a small Earth-observation company that specialises in satellite remote sensing.
Like many small businesses, a lack of time and resources means they focus on what’s needed to deliver to clients and struggle to keep up to date with new skills and opportunities in specialist areas such as marketing.
“Most people wouldn’t think about using satellite data in their business, but there are lots of ways in which it could benefit them. Our challenge is to get that message out there and digital marketing is crucial for that,” says Pixalytics owner, Andrew Lavender.
“My wife, Samantha, came to Plymouth University to study Oceanography and Computing and in the last year of her degree, she studied remote sensing, which then led to her PhD. She has since worked for other organisations before we decided to set up our own business serving a niche market six years ago."
The owners came across the Growth Support Programme at the Devon Business Show in 2017 and saw it as a great opportunity to seek help on their digital marketing as the support that was offered included a one-to-one meeting with a digital adviser.
Andrew added: “We had a website audit with Matt Ballard from Cosmic which was definitely the best session we have ever been on. Instead of giving us generic advice about digital marketing, Matt sat down with us and identified the areas of the website that worked well, and the sections that needed some work.
“Following the audit, Matt gave us tangible tips and advice on how to make changes to those parts of the website so we were able to implement the changes straight away. Matt also helped us with our social media strategy, again giving us pointers for the areas we weren’t so good on. It was obvious that Matt was aware that we weren’t able to spend thousands with our web developer or a marketing agency, so he gave us some sound advice.”
The Growth Support Programme doesn’t just help with digital marketing support, there’s a wide range of other topics covered in the 12 hours of business advice given. Companies can benefit from an initial diagnostic on the business as well as a financial assessment, help with their business plan or growth plan, HR support and advice on other areas of business such as GDPR.
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “Pixalytics highlights perfectly how this programme can make a difference to local businesses. The advice and support on offer can be hugely beneficial to small and medium size enterprises that are so important to our local economy. I would encourage other small businesses who looking to grow to consider if they can take advantage of this support.”
Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans, said: “It’s really important to us that we support smaller businesses, so we’re thrilled to be a part of this programme. The support on offer is truly invaluable to business owners and I would urge people to take up the opportunity and let us help them overcome the challenges and lack of resources often faced.”
The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is a match funder of the Growth Support Programme, and the LEP’s Business Leadership Group provides over-arching advice and guidance to support the programme in working towards wider growth objectives across the Heart of the South West.
David Ralph, Chief Executive Officer of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the South West economy and we know that a little support and expertise from outside can go a long way to helping them increase their productivity and grow. It’s been warmly received by those who have already applied to the scheme and I’d encourage any business which thinks it could benefit to get in touch.”
If you would like to find out more about the free support and advice on offer from the Growth Support Programme, register your interest at www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/gsp-apply