25th October 2010, 4:16pm
Free business advice available for Lincolnshire's small firms
Business Inspiration course materials. Photo by Electric Egg. Small businesses in Lincolnshire plotting how to navigate today’s troubled economic waters can sign up for free expert advice from the University of Lincoln.

The Innovation Advice and Guidance programme is a government-funded business support package which is being delivered in the county by the University’s Lincoln Business School.

It can offer small and medium-sized enterprises in Lincolnshire free guidance from Business School experts, successful local entrepreneurs and economic development specialists.

The Innovation Advice and Guidance programme includes a series of free Business Briefing workshops which take place at venues across the county. Delegates who find these briefings useful can then register for the free Business Inspiration course.

This Business Inspiration course consists of six morning sessions spread over six weeks. It includes interactive workshops and discussion, plus one-to-one support from a business mentor. It covers key aspects of running a small business, from strategic planning like identifying strengths and weaknesses or spotting opportunities for growth, down to practical skills like developing a marketing strategy and managing finances. The course content has been shaped by Professor David Rae, an internationally-renowned authority on entrepreneurial education from the Lincoln Business School.

Paul Parkinson, Project Leader for the Innovation Advice and Guidance programme at the University of Lincoln, said: “Through the programme we can offer Lincolnshire businesses support, skills and training to help them exploit the opportunities that are still out there, even in these tough economic times. Often small businesses can see the potential to expand or develop new markets, but lack the confidence or in-house expertise to take that next step. We can help fill in those gaps, whether it’s in operations, recruitment, marketing or finance.”

The Innovation Advice and Guidance programme launched in February this year and runs until April 2011. Already more than 50 small and medium-sized enterprises in Lincolnshire have taken part.

They include Lindsay Nearn, a director in Lincolnshire-based plant hire company Flying Hire, who attended a Business Briefing and then completed the Business Inspiration course this summer.

She said: “The course was brilliant. It really helped us to spin the business around, to understand how it operates and implement changes. When you’re running a business, it’s difficult to take a step back and look at it as a whole. That’s exactly what the course enabled us to do.”

The next Business Briefing sessions take place at:

Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa, Wednesday 27th October 2010
Hemswell Court, Gainsborough, Thursday 25th November 2010

To book a place, contact Paul Parkinson on pparkinson@lincoln.ac.uk or phone 01522 886274.

Innovation Advice and Guidance is part of Solutions for Business, the Government’s portfolio of publicly funded business support to help companies start and grow. To find out more about Solutions for Business, call Business Link on 0845 0586644 or visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/eastmidlands
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