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Apprentices as part of a successful business

If you are running a business or considering starting a new one, it is essential that you have all the necessary components – the right premises, equipment, systems and infrastructure – and of course the right people. Most owners of successful businesses acknowledge that good staff are amongst their most valuable assets.

It is not just a case of number of employees, it is getting the right combination of skills. Ideally a business needs a mix of people, some with practical or creative abilities, some with management expertise and some good administrators. They also need those with “people skills” to sell and deal with customers.

The problem of skill shortages is well documented, particularly in some sectors of manufacturing. The apprenticeship scheme is a great way of addressing skill shortages and planning for continuity.

Historically, apprenticeships related to “trades” – joiners, bricklayers, plumbers. These days it is far wider, covering most industry sectors with apprenticeships as diverse as beauty therapy, broadcasting, sporting excellence, sales and IT – to mention just a few. The scheme is not just aimed at school leavers – some are aimed at postgraduates.

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It’s win – win. Employers can address staff needs and the cost of training is subsidised, whilst the apprentice receives training and experience and at the same time is paid.

But staffing is only one element needed to run a successful business. Having the right equipment is crucial whether that means shop displays, tools and machinery, IT equipment or vehicles. These days there is a large choice of financing options to ensure you have the right assets to run your business.

With the staff and equipment in place, the final piece of the jigsaw is ensuring the business always has enough cash to continue trading.

It is critical that businesses plan forward to ensure there is enough cash to keep the business afloat, particularly if you offer credit to your customers or are heavily involved in R & D.

There are plenty of lenders in the market offering finance as well as private investors and alternative lenders and funders. In some cases grants and tax breaks are available for innovative and growing enterprises.

If despite your best plans, your business runs into financial difficulties, take advice at the earliest possible stage. There are many ways of helping businesses to survive but it is essential that you do not leave it until it is beyond help.

Originally published in First For Business Magazine

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