Adventures in micro-business: 'Where can I get support to expand my business?'

Professor Russell Smith answers your queries


Q My small business has been successful over the past five years, but now needs to expand its product range and target new markets. As our products are quite technical, where might I find appropriate support?

A It sounds like your business may be a candidate for a “Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)”. This is a nationwide scheme that links businesses with academic institutions, so they can access specialist help and expertise. KTP projects can run from three months to three years and are part-funded by a Government grant such that small to medium-sized businesses may only contribute around one third of the project costs. Recent data indicate KTPs have a positive impact on business growth including increased turnover and the creation of new jobs. Visit the KTP website ( ktponline.org.uk/business ) to register your interest.

Q What are the key criteria that banks use when assessing an application for a business loan?

A The key assessment is whether or not the business generates (or will generate) sufficient funds to meet the interest and capital repayments. In general, banks use seven criteria in making their judgements: see the Campari assessment definition in the Jargon Buster section below.

Q I want to start a business and to run it from my home. Where can I find out about working from home?

A There are a number of issues to be aware of when starting a business from home, and an accountant will be able to advise on most of them. For an excellent introduction, download Business Link’s guide from businesslink.gov.uk/homestartup . Depending upon the type of business you wish to run, you may need to seek planning permission, especially if you intend to alter existing premises. Visit planningportal.gov.uk for further information. You may also need to speak with the Valuation Office Agency to check whether you will have to pay business rates. Download the “Working at or from home” leaflet from their website ( voa.gov.uk ).

Q My business occupies a small office. What do I need to do in order to comply with fire regulations?

A The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) came into effect in October 2006, and applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. As the person who is responsible, you must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and put in place a fire management plan. Useful guidance is available from the Communities and Local Government website ( communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety ). This includes information about fire safety law. There is also a downloadable fire risk assessment form. In addition, a lot of very useful information is available on the London Fire Brigade website ( london-fire.gov.uk ).

Q Is it possible to file a patent without using a patent attorney?

A You can prepare and submit an application yourself, but you would be advised to seek help from a patent attorney. Obtain the Patents: essential reading document from the UK Intellectual Property Office (downloadable at ipo.gov.uk/p-essentialreading.pdf) to see if a patent is the right form of intellectual property protection for your idea. Members of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys deliver clinics giving free advice to people at the early stages of developing an idea. Visit cipa.org.uk for more details.

QUESTIONS PLEASE

Send your questions to Professor Smith at independent@businessboffins.com. Selected questions will be answered each month. Answers are for the general guidance of ownermanagers only. Always seek professional advice. Professor Smith is the founder of Business Boffins Ltd which, in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University, Anglia Ruskin University, Warwick University and University of the West of England, delivers support programmes to small businesses nationwide. Readers of The Independent andThe Independent on Sunday can enrol on the programme at a discounted rate. See businessboffins.com

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most