A MAJOR programme to provide local support for small firms and help for those experiencing difficult trading conditions is now in full swing across West Somerset.
Attendance at Business Link’s special advice sessions called ‘outreach clinics’ - now being held at venues Somerset-wide - is already at a high level as business owners and managers obtain up-to-the-minute guidance on how to protect their commercial interests, take advantage of the extensive support services available, and prepare for the future.
Business Link has been working in partnership with West Somerset and the county’s other district councils, Somerset Skills and Learning, and local enterprise support organisations.
It is holding regular clinics in 14 different areas of Somerset, including Minehead, Dulverton, and Wiveliscombe.
Each clinic is free to attend and provides owners or managers of new or established small firms a 90-minute face-to-face meeting with an experienced business adviser who has had personal experience of running a successful business - all without having to leave their local area.
The adviser will review key areas, discuss the main issues being faced by a business, and identify appropriate activities and support to maintain and develop commercial performance.
And, according to Business Link’s Roger Bacon (pictured), the popularity of the first wave of outreach clinics is likely to see further expansion of the programme over the coming months.
Mr Bacon said: “Many small businesses need all the help they can get, while others recognise that specific areas of support can help to recession-proof their interests so they are well-placed to capitalise on a future economic upturn.
“But it is not always easy for managers to know where to turn when confronted with trading difficulties, or presented with new business opportunities, at a time when working capital has not been easy to come by.
“As the Government’s primary business support service, we are in a position to provide help, encouragement, and information on all areas of a business - from finance and marketing, to skills development, staffing, and business development.
“Moreover, our team of advisers are able to advise on the latest range of business support packages announced by the Government and other regional initiatives that have been introduced to help our local businesses.”
Appointments at any of Business Link’s local clinics can be booked by calling 0845 600 9966 or visiting www.businesslinksw.co.uk for more information.
Mr Bacon said: “If the next clinic in your local area is fully booked, do not be put off, as Business Link is already increasing the frequency of such clinics where there is a clear demand.”
The next Minehead outreach clinic, held in partnership with Somerset Skills and Learning, will take place at the Somerset Skills and Learning Building, in Middle Street, on February 11.
The next Dulverton outreach clinics, held in partnership with Dulverton Enterprise Centre, will take place at the Enterprise Centre, Station Road, Brushford, on February 3 and March 3.
For businesses in the Wiveliscombe area, an outreach clinic will be held bi-monthly in Wiveliscombe House in partnership with Taunton Deane Borough Council.