Starting a business is an exhilarating experience but can also be quite treacherous, if you’re really sure where you’re going. Luckily there is a wealth of information out there to help you prepare. The only issue is, where to start?

Ever on the pilgrimage to make your business endeavors easier, we have collated a list of the best places to look for startup and small business advice. The best part is, most of them are completely free.

1. Startup advice

Gov.uk provides a range of business and financial support options, including advice on writing a business plan, help with finance and support, loans and Growth Voucher opportunities.

The government’s Growth Accelerator scheme is also well worth checking out. Eligible small businesses can access coaching and advice, as well as up to £2,000 of match funding per senior manager involved in the strategic direction of the business.

The government isn’t the only place you can find funding for your business – more funding info here.

Startup Britain is characterised as a “national campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs” and provides free events and advice for budding businesses. They also work with the government in order to create better initiatives and funding options for startups, which aims to give small businesses the opportunity to have their say.

99u is online portfolio company, Behance’s effort to “make ideas happen”. The site offers a selection of articles, videos and advice on innovation and creative thinking. If you’re feeling a little depleted and you need some business motivation, 99u is a great place to start.

2. HR advice for small business

ACAS provides information, advice, training and other services for employers and employees relating to employment and HR issues. As well as advice and training, ACAS also offers online modules to help you achieve the ‘model workplace’ and get to grips with employment law.

Early conciliation is a particularly useful section of the ACAS site if you find yourself in a workplace dispute. The free service offers the opportunity to resolve issues without having to go to an employment tribunal.

HR Zone has a decent mix of informative blog posts, white papers and employment law features. They also have a library and online resource centre, which offers a 14 day free trial for all new members. It is free to join and you will be alerted of all up-and-coming events near your area.

Human Resource Solutions support small businesses who may not have the capital or need to hire HR professionals. The website offers professionally written free resources, as well as downloadable HR policies and procedures templates.

3. Accounting advice

J4b provides funding and grant information to startups and small businesses. The site also offers advice and guidance on relevant awards and tax relief and is easier to navigate than HMRC.

HMRC is the almighty ruler of all British tax issues and has all of the financial information required to set up your business and manage your finances. It is not the easiest website to navigate so here are some of the most useful areas for you:

  • Starting a business – Help and support for new businesses, including what you need to register to get set up, limited company, VAT, PAYE for employers, record keeping ect.
  • Corporation tax – Information on how to register, calculate and manage your corporation tax.
  • Import and export – Tax laws on international trade, import control system and how to apply.

The new HMRC section on the gov.uk website is much more user friendly.

4. Business mentoring services

Horsesmouth describes itself as “the social network for informal mentoring” and offers the opportunity to sign up to have or be a mentor. They have a specific section on starting a business where you can search for mentors on a variety of subjects including, interviewing, managing people, business plan and investment.

Mentorsme is designed to help you find a business mentor as quickly and easily as possible.  You can also find a range of useful resources on their website, including accounting a business advice, better financial control and how to complete a lending request.

Photo by Thomas Hawk