Established in 2001, NBSL has become the North East’s largest volume provider of funding to growth businesses, helping over 12,000 companies since being formed eighteen years.

With a huge variety of support now available, how does a small business find finance that fits their needs. We ask John King, business funding expert and North East Business Support Manager of NBSL.

Where would you start?

Keep it simple and start with the basics. Create a plan on how you intend to grow the business, what/where are your markets; what are your overheads and costs and how do you intend to cover them… and try to think about how this impacts on the business.

When you’re looking for funding support, most people start within their own networks. Approaching peers and trusted intermediaries like your accountant is a sensible place to start. Find someone who can offer useful suggestions. In fact, the majority of people accessing our North East Business Support Fund have been referred to us by a contact.

Google is your friend - try an online search, which has been made easier in the North East thanks to the North East Growth Hub, which has a great Finance Finder tool. Again, before you start your search, keep those goals at the forefront of your mind – what do you want to achieve and what will give you the best value?

County Durham businesses have the added bonus of direct access to the team at Business Durham, who have a great understanding of the range of support available to businesses in the area.

What would you do?

Before approaching potential funders, make sure that you’re very clear on what your business’ objectives and expectations are. This is especially important when planning more than one business improvement project.

Once again, be clear on what your priorities are and what sort of return on investment you’re expecting, something funders will want to know too.

Why would you need grant funding support?

You might not, but that shouldn’t stop you exploring what options are out there.

Grant funding programmes exist to encourage businesses to invest and stimulate business growth. As funders, we hope that this leads to job creation, which is obviously beneficial to the local economy.

Grant funding aims to de-risk the decision to invest. The idea being that this encourages more businesses to take the plunge and push forward with growth plans.

Most projects using external expertise can be supported via the Fund, but the most common tend to be website development, process improvement, video and animation production, growth consultancy and supply chain development. If you’re a County Durham business considering investing in projects like these, give NBSL a call – we may be able to provide up to 40% funding towards the costs.

How do you do it?

Our approach to grant funding is all about making it as easy as possible for the client.

Business owners want to spend as little time as possible form-filling, so we’ve designed a process that includes a simple 15-minute online application and a dedicated adviser to make the process as smooth as possible. By removing the fuss from funding we have able to provide grant support to well over 400 businesses each year, which makes us the biggest volume grant support provider in the region.

Best advice

Do your research - if you’re looking for grant funding, make sure to investigate all of the support that might be available. There are more support options than most people realise and it doesn’t cost anything to find out what’s available.

But be quick…our current funding extension has already received 120 applications and we only need to support 240 businesses in County Durham. Reach out to us now and we’ll do everything we can to help you.

The North East Business Support Fund (NEBSF) is part financed by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.


Register your business as an NBSL provider and stay up to date with the latest funding information.

If you provide business support services like marketing, business planning, human resources or financial planning find out how you could register with us to offer a grant of up to £3200 to your clients for work that you do for them.

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