Organisations that are small often find it challenging to get the support they need. It can be difficult to know where to turn to get straightforward and common sense advice that can help to grow a small business. Many small businesses are run by entrepreneurs who have a great idea and know that there is a market for what they want to offer, but they do not necessarily have the business acumen to make it work. This can be very problematic. Yet in the UK there is a company that can help with all of that. GLE is the UK’s SME specialist. As it explains about itself:
“GLE is one of the most active and creative supporters of small businesses, working to create jobs, encourage enterprise and equip SMEs with the expertise and resources to compete.”
GLE works to create a commercial return but its overall goal is to look to the longer term. What this means is it seeks to create what it refers to as a “social” return on its services and investments. The organisation measures its success with regard to businesses or jobs created, people supported, space regenerated and value added. The organisation does not get a public subsidy of any kind and it is completely reliant on revenues that it makes commercially. It ploughs its profits back into the organisation.
Providing Business Loans to SMEs
One of the biggest challenges of SMEs in any market is securing the funding needed for start-up. GLE aims to solve that problem by providing a Business Loans element to its business, and through this it is able to offer the support that SMEs need to get up and running. Loans are available to both start up and growing organisations. GLE works in conjunction with accountants, high street banks and finance houses to find financing for SMEs that may be less likely to be able to get the funding that they need in other ways. Nonetheless, the approach is responsible, and is focused on the specific needs of the business in question. Its responsible finance is provided in a not-for-profit manner. In this area GLE offers a personal and supportive approach which is actually a genuine alternative to regular opportunities that may be available. The belief behind doing this is that by providing greater social opportunities it is hoped that stronger communities and economies can grow. The organisation’s vision in this regard is that anyone that needs fair finance should be able to get it. The GLE reports that in 2014 it lent more than £10 million to small businesses, and this helped to either create or protect approximately 3,700 jobs which would not have been protected by traditional finance providers.
Offering Rental Estate for SMEs
Another arm of the GLE operation is GLE Properties. The focus of this area of the organization is to offer real estate for SMEs. The team has planning and development expertise to identify property development opportunities that could be fruitful and it helps to work towards urban renewal where possible. It is creative in its approach in this regard, and looks for innovative development solutions. The GLE has its own development projects but also joint venture partnership projects. It has to work with a variety of stakeholders in this area of its business, such as public authorities, land owners and property specialists.
Helping SMEs To Develop
And then there is also GLE Business Support. In this area the GLE helps small and medium sized companies to develop. The organization offers support in applying for funding, putting in place new contracts, being environmentally responsible and finding suppliers. In this regard it helps organisations in the initial stages of running a business through providing those that are eligible with free mentoring, start up support and planning. Meanwhile GLE Connect provides IT and Web Services to small companies, designed specifically to meet their needs. This for some may involve overhauling what they are doing, and for others may require helping to put in place flexible and reliable solutions. There is also IGF: Cash Flow Finance which helps with finance services such as payroll and direct debit. GLE International Trade helps businesses to carry out exporting and understand how to get started with moving into overseas markets.
Whatever your small business needs, it is likely to be worth looking at what GLE has to offer, as this organisation seems to be able to help SMEs make a real and meaningful impact.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.