Help to Grow: How the government scheme can help small businesses

As one of the UK’s leading digital platforms, our mission at Tide is to support those who work for themselves. In addition to our range of smart features all designed to save businesses time on their finance admin, we’re always keen to highlight any sources of support that may benefit the Tide community of over 450,000 sole traders, freelancers, and small businesses.

Following the economic turmoil caused by the global pandemic for the past two years, the launch of one government initiative is particularly welcome. Help to Grow is a scheme designed to help owners of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits. 

The scheme consists of two distinct programmes:

  • Help to Grow Management – offering senior business leaders management and leadership training, delivered by a network of Business Schools across the UK
  • Help to Grow Digital – providing free, impartial advice on how technology can boost business, delivered through a new online platform.

In this article, we’ll explain the details of each programme, how they have been designed to help small businesses, plus how you can find out if you’re eligible to sign up for the initiative.

Table of contents

What is Help to Grow: Management?

Delivered in collaboration with both industry experts, as well as experienced entrepreneurs, Help to Grow: Management is a practical training programme that will give leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises the chance to maximise their potential by giving them access to both practical training alongside advice and mentoring.

The management course provides 12 weeks of flexible learning that has been designed specifically around the busy lives of those who work for themselves. Delivered by leading UK business schools accredited to the Small Business Charter, the course includes 50 hours of in-depth training alongside one-to-one business mentoring. The format of the course is a mix of both face-to-face and online learning, making it accessible for entrepreneurs to attend, not to mention being easily fitted in around work commitments.

The course syllabus covers the following areas:

  • Strategies for growth and performance
  • How to lead high-performance teams
  • Financial management
  • Responsible business practices

Inspirational business leaders will be on hand to provide guidance and participants will also have the opportunity to learn alongside local peers. A national alumni network will also be available providing contacts and support from fellow business owners.

As part of the course, participants will have the opportunity to create a bespoke growth plan to help take their business to the next level. They will also receive one-to-one support from a mentor who will help them to put into practice what they’ve learned throughout the course.

How much does the Help to Grow: Management course cost?

The 12-week Help to Grow: Management course costs £750 to attend and is 90% subsidised by the UK government to make it affordable for small businesses. The course will be run at various business schools throughout the UK. 

Am I eligible to sign up for the Help to Grow: Management course?

The Help to Grow: Management Course is open to small or medium-sized businesses (SMEs) based in the United Kingdom who:

  • Have been operational for at least one year
  • Are from any business sector and employ between 5 and 249 people
  • Are not a charity

To join the Help to Grow: Management course, applicants must:

  • Be a senior decision-maker within their business, such as Chief Executive, Finance Director, Operations Director, etc. Only one person per business may attend the programme
  • Commit to completing all sessions

Businesses with 10 or more employees are eligible to have 2 participants attend. Both participants will be required to pay the cost of £750 each.

Previous participants on the Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP) are eligible to join.

Registration is quick and easy via the Help to Grow website.

What is Help to Grow: Digital?

The second of the government initiatives aimed specifically at small and medium-sized businesses has been designed to help small business owners in the aftermath of the pandemic. Help to Grow: Digital offers free and impartial advice on how technology can boost business, delivered through an online platform. 

The programme recognises how many businesses have had to diversify and adapt their methods of delivering their services during Covid-19. Help to Grow: Digital, therefore, has the aim of helping businesses to build on these new ways of working in order for them to build back better.

As well as being able to benefit from free and impartial online support via the platform, Help to Grow: Digital will also support businesses in planning for the future, ensuring they embrace innovation in how they operate and giving the best chances to compete and grow.

How much does Help to Grow: Digital cost?

Together with provision of free online support via the platform, eligible businesses can also claim a financial discount covering up to 50% of the costs of approved digital technology up to a maximum of £5,000. 

This financial discount is available for software that helps businesses to build customer relationships and increase sales (CRM software) and manage their accounts and finances digitally (Digital Accounting software).

💡New! To support businesses to sell online and reach new markets, E-Commerce software are now eligible for the discount.

You can learn more about the discount, explore the software available in the scheme, the features, compatibility, and costs on the Government’s website.

Who is eligible to receive discounts under Help to Grow: Digital?

To be eligible to receive the software discounts under the Help to Grow: Digital scheme, businesses must:

  • Be based in the United Kingdom, registered with Companies House or a registered society on the Financial Conduct Authorities Mutuals Register
  • Be from any business sector, employing between 1 and 249 people
  • Be actively trading for over 12 months, and have an incorporation date of, at least, 365 days prior to application.
  • Be purchasing the approved software for the first time

How to apply for a Help to Grow: Digital discount

Before you apply for a financial discount on the approved software, you need to first ensure that your business is eligible for the scheme.

Once you’ve checked your business qualifies, you need to decide on your chosen software. Remember, you can only apply for one discounted product per business. The government website provides a list of eligible products that form part of the discount scheme to help you decide which product best serves your business needs.

You can then select which product you wish to purchase and complete your application online. There are four parts to the application, covering the software you’ve selected, information about you (the applicant), details about your business and an email verification stage.

You’ll need to also have the following information to hand to help you complete your application:

  • Your business’ Companies House or Financial Conduct Authorities Mutuals Register Number
  • Your name, your role in the business and your work email address
  • The number of employees presently working at your business

Once you’ve submitted your application and online checks have been completed, you will be sent a link to the website of your chosen software provider. This will then give you the final price to pay, minus your discount and you will be able to complete your purchase.

Wrapping up: why manage your finance admin digitally?

The pandemic has most certainly accelerated changes in the way we do business, particularly where SMEs are concerned. Managing your finance admin digitally, rather than relying on manual processes and spreadsheets, not only speeds up your processes, but gives you and your employees valuable time back. This allows you to focus on key tasks, such as talking to customers and implementing your business strategy and objectives.

Oliver Prill, CEO of Tide says:

“As one of the UK’s leading digital platforms and with over 450,000 sole traders and small businesses among our member community, we’re very well-placed to understand the challenges the self-employed face. The Government’s Help to Grow initiative is an important means by which to give SMEs support and practical help. This will not only enable them to navigate the current economic climate, but also provide a foundation for future growth.”

Caroline Wire

Caroline Wire

Senior Small Business Copywriter

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