9 Big funding ideas for young entrepreneurs

9 Big funding ideas for young entrepreneurs

Who can help you with funding and grants if you want to become the UK’s newest young entrepreneur? The money has to come from somewhere…

Funding ideas for young entrepreneursOne of the BIG challenges about going self-employed and living the dream is figuring out where the money comes from.

Yes, you have the freedom to do things your way – but there’s no-one to pay your wages. You have to figure out the costs, travel expenses and budgeting all on your own.

Yes, maybe you’ll get support from people on the way – but sorting out the money is still a massive challenge.

The bad news: You have to pay for life even if you’re not making any money.

The good news: You want to be a young entrepreneur? These nice people can help!

The Prince’s Trust

Funding ideas - Princes Trust

How can they help?

  • You have to be aged 13-30. That’s right, the Prince’s Trust recognises you can have a great business idea even if you’re still at school!
  • There are Prince’s Trust centres all over the UK, so you’re bound to find one that’s local to you.

Enterprise programme – If you’re thinking of starting your own business, this is a fantastic place to start. They’ll help you create a solid business plan, support you with training and funding, and even get you in touch with an experienced business mentor. They can also offer start up business finance if you need cash.

Grants – Their grants, also known as Development Awards, help you to overcome any issues with getting the education, training and employment you need. This is ideal if you’re looking for a job, but if you want to go self-employed, the Enterprise programme is your best bet.

Courses – They have free training courses to help build up work experience and know-how. You have to be aged 16-25 and unemployed. Courses include taster sessions to see if you’d enjoy a particular activity, which can be anything from sport to music. They also feature short courses to help you get more skills and experience in a particular business area – essential stuff if you’re thinking of branching out on your own. Finally, they have a 12-week team programme if you’re unemployed and need to boost everything from confidence to skills and proof of work experience for the CV.

Newly Self-employed Helpline

Funding ideas - newly self employed helplineHow can they help?

  • Phone 0300 200 3504 (or textphone 0845 915 3296 if you’re deaf or hearing or speech impaired)
  • This helpline is set up by HM Revenue and Customs – in other words, the Government. So they know what they’re talking about.
  • They help you register in the official proper way for National Insurance, tax and VAT. The numbers stuff. No-one enjoys the numbers side of being self-employed, but if you’re already at the point where you’re setting up your own business it needs to be done right so you don’t end up making potentially expensive mistakes further down the line.

New Enterprise Allowance Scheme

Funding ideas - New Enterprise Allowance SchemeHow can they help?

  • This is a government-run thing, so it’s nationwide.
  • It’s for unemployed people aged 18 or over. To be able to apply you have to be getting the jobseeker’s allowance, income support as a lone parent, or the employment and support allowance if you’re in the work-related activity group.
  • Think of it as a helping hand – you can get mentor support to develop your business idea, write a business plan and advise you in the early months of trading
  • It can help with the money side of things: If you’re accepted into the scheme, you get a weekly allowance paid up to 26 weeks and you can also apply for a start-up loan. The loan has to be paid back but the allowance is absolutely free. Also, any money you get doesn’t affect your housing benefit, tax credits, income tax or Access to Work grant.
  • You can get in touch with your local Jobcentre Plus to apply or find out more.


Funding ideas - UnLtdHow can they help?

  • They focus on young people who are doing projects to make the world a better place (but it’s fine if it’s also a business project designed to make money)
  • They offer grants (also known as awards, or free money) not just loans
  • They have a really clear and easy to use website showing all the different awards they offer, for example:

SEE Change – You’re a uni student or recent graduate with an idea for social change that you want to try out, build up or do full-time

Live UnLtd – You’re aged 11-21 and want help and financial support because you’ve an idea on how to do good for others

Social Switch On Awards – You’re 16-20 years old, you’ve graduated from NCS (or will this summer) and you want to know how your social action idea can also make money

Fast Growth Awards – You’ve got an early stage social venture, you want to make it grow big quickly, and you need cash for living expenses and business support

Elevation Networks

Funding ideas - Elevation NetworksHow can they help?

  • They work with students and young entrepreneurs
  • They provide support and training
  • They also provide access to start-up loans

Elevation Start-up loan – This is aimed at 18 to 30 year olds. The average loan is usually around £2,500 (but there’s no upper limit). You also get support from people like Paypal and eBay, and free office facilities for 6 months through Regus.

Angel’s Den

Funding ideas - Angels DenHow can they help?

  • They’re an ‘Angel network’ that links people who have great ideas with people willing to invest in them.
  • The Angel’s Den has been around for a while, and it’s always worth a shot. If someone really likes your idea, they might want to talk money and funding with you.
  • HOT TIP: If you google ‘angel network’ or ‘angel investors’ and you’ll find a million other networks out there who might give you funding if you pitch your idea to them really well!
  • Think angel networks don’t work? Well, it’s true they don’t work for everyone, and you have to be careful. But young entrepreneur Nicko Williamson founded Climatecars with £300,000 from an angel network… and his annual turnover is now £3 million. If your idea is really solid, someone might just want to put money into it!

Apply for funding – Complete an initial pitch application online at the Angel’s Den. Don’t rush this – you want to be really convincing. Then one of their team will get in touch and let you know if they’re going to take your pitch any further. HOT TIP: If someone offers you a deal that sounds too good to be true, it always makes sense to say “thanks very much, I need some time to think about it”. Then you can contact someone you trust and talk the opportunity through with them.

Dragon’s Den

Funding ideas - Dragons DenHow can they help?

  • Yes. You heard us right. The Dragon’s Den. It’s not just a BBC TV show. The dragons can genuinely help you.
  • You have to be living in the UK and 18 or over to apply.
  • Visit the application page and either fill the form in online or send it in. Don’t rush it – tell yourself you only get one shot, so you have to have done loads of research beforehand and you have to really know your money side of things. Also, if you do this you’re VERY brave – after all, you might be pitching to dragons on TV!
  • Applying to Dragon’s Den sounds daft but it’s not impossible! After all, Aden Levin and Rob Tominey are 24 and 25 years old. They got a £100,000 investment from Piers Linney on Dragon’s Den and their travel company Mainstage Travel is looking to make £900,000 profit in 2014. Someone’s got to succeed in their self-employment passion. Aden Levin and Rob Tominey succeeded. Why not you?


Funding ideas - SeedrsHow can they help?

  • Seedrs is a website that joins start-up ideas with capital investors and angel investors. If you want to become self-employed with a great entrepreneurial idea, ‘capital investor’, ‘venture investor’ and ‘angel investor’ are going to be words you’ll hear a lot.
  • Seedrs is like a gentler online form of Dragon’s Den – you say what your business project is, how much you want and what you’re willing to offer in return. It’s mostly active in the USA and France, but don’t let that stop you.
  • Have a solid idea, proven experience and look at the pitches of other people on there before you do your own pitch.
  • You might end up with multiple investors in the project.


Funding ideas - CrowdfunderHow can they help?

  • Last but not least… let’s hear it for Crowdfunder!
  • Crowdfunder isn’t really a new thing anymore but it’s still going really strong. You pitch your great idea to the world, say how much you want, and you have a set period in which crowdfunders either give you that amount (or more) or you don’t get anything at all.
  • It’s free and doesn’t cost anything, so you might as well give it your best shot.
  • The great thing about Crowdfunder is it’s full of average people who just want to see really good stuff being made to make the world a better place – and they know they can just offer a little bit of money to make it happen. Crowdfunder is all about lots of people giving a little amount, not one or two people giving huge wads of cash.
  • Another great thing about Crowdfunder is it’s got something for everyone. You want to create a video game set in a snake factory? That’s okay, there’s a million other people who – it turns out – are desperate to see you make a game like that. They’ll fund you. You want to create a flying shoe and you know just how to do it? They’ll fund you. There are a lot of average people out there who just want to be able to wear a flying shoe.
  • You have to follow the rules – if you promise something, you have to deliver if your crowdfunding application succeeds. But if your business idea involves a product and you’ve already got it all figured out, a successful Crowdfund could make all the difference.
  • Another nice thing about crowdfunding is that you can share the link with everyone you know and ask them to fund/pass it on. It doesn’t have to be strangers. Friends can help too.
  • Crowdfunder just… works. Not always, of course. But if the idea is right ( and usually entertainment-based) it can really work. A successful crowdfund can put a smile on your face and help you really believe in yourself.
  • You’re never too young to give it a go! At just 7 years of age, Dylan - the UK’s youngest crowdfunder - exceeded his target by more than 44% when he wanted to get his recipe book published for charity.

Funding: Next steps

So there you have it. Always keep your head up high, do your best and trust yourself. Keep researching the following words and phrases online to get some juicy leads on money for your self-employed venture:

  • Grants
  • Awards
  • Funding
  • Angel investors
  • Crowdfunding
  • Young entrepreneur support
  • Start-up help

These are the words you want to focus on. Google “young entrepreneurs” and read about how they did it – you’ll often get some great tips on where to get investment in your big idea!

And finally… good luck! If your idea is a strong one, you can make it.

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