Business Advisory Unit
A dynamic business environment is of vital importance to any economy. New technology, new products and changing attitudes require businesses to react.
However, entrepreneurs without a structure of in-house or contracted professionals can find that they spend much of their valuable time chasing information ,advice and assistance. Invariably also, sources of information are sited at different locations, and business people find that they are too busy running the business to look around for such help.
Much emphasis is placed by modern economies on the need for business groups and associations that facilitate processes and provide assistance to business. For this reason, not only does the Government encourage and support for these groups, but also, with the assistance of the EU, it formed the Business Advisory Unit.
The purpose of this Unit is to become the first port-of-call for people seeking business-related information, advice and assistance. All services offered by the Business Advisory Unit are free, and are available to any individual or business which already exists or wants to set up in Gibraltar.
The Unit offers on-the-spot information on a large variety of business topics.
Some of the information that an individual may require at a particular time may be available within informative literature that we hold in stock..
Although we already have a number of publications, building up the business library section is an on-going process. Ultimately the library will hold material produced by the Unit or sent in by relevant organisations such as banks, accounts, business, support groups and of course by Government departments. In addition, it will stock commercial publications, business handbooks and directories.
Where the literature does not satisfy a query, this might be cleared on the spot by the experienced business advisors employed within the Unit.
It is often the case that the information is not readily available. In these cases the business advisor will either direct the enquirer to relevant sources or contacts, or he will find out himself, thus taking out much of the running around by the individual.
The business advisors are experienced professionals. They understand the needs of existing businesses and the frustrations encountered by those starting up. They are also aware that some people may think that their idea can be developed without complications and yet not are aware of certain restrictions or pitfalls. The business advisor will not shun from briefing one or the other. No request is therefore too simple to ignore or too complicated to withdraw from.
Also, since the Unit works within the Government, it is in a position to obtain information through the inter-departmental network. In matters related to the Administration, therefore, it can sometimes obtain information more speedily.
Information requests sometimes require guidance, especially on how to go about a procedure. It is not always sufficient just to inform visitors on what might be required without guiding them on how to go about obtaining these: where to go; what to ask for; likely cost; lead-in time, etc.
In some cases, the individual may know the requirements but may need assistance with completing application forms, or preparing an outline for a proposal etc.
The business advisors are available to offer such guidance.
The Unit is an impartial body and cannot be expected to replace expert advice from professional bodies.
Nevertheless, an objective opinion can sometimes help the individual formulate his ideas more clearly before expending more time and money on the project.
General advice on business matters is therefore through our business advisors.
The range of such advice can obviously be very wide. Much of the approach would involve getting the individual to consider all aspects of a particular project including what opportunities might exist as well as what potential obstacles could arise, and to be aware of the consequences of the venture. Where an individual wants to prepare a proposal or business plan on his own, the business advisor can also pinpoint shortcomings or identify certain areas worth expanding.
Since the Unit works closely with other Government departments, it is also sometimes possible to advice on the best approach for a given venture related to a specific ministry.
Persons wanting to start their own business can gain particular benefit from the Unit
Often, the desire to set up on one’s own derives from an idea. The real thinking concerning feasibility; finance requirements; restrictions; procedures and thinking social consequences are often not fully considered, leaving the potential entrepreneur in a maze of uncertainty.
The business advisors are very aware that this situation arises, and they will guide you through the various steps to get going. Above all, they will also ensure that the intended entrepreneur considers all the pros and cons of the venture.
The Unit is not a funding body. It does, however, work very closely with the EU Programmes Unit and within the Enterprise Initiative Board, as well as having good relations with the banks and other financing bodies.
It is therefore in a particularly good position to offer impartial guidance on sources of finance, including eligibility criteria in relation to the public funding schemes.
In addition, where the individual business wishes to formulate its application or proposal without the assistance of professional experts, the Unit can offer advice and assistance in order to identify shortcomings or points worth enhancing.
In relation to applications for the public funding schemes, currently the Gibraltar Enterprise Scheme and the EU funding schemes, it must be noted that the Unit is represented in the advisory committees of both. It is therefore well versed with the guidelines, criteria, procedures and precedents. It would therefore be advisable for intending applicants to approach the Unit for initial advice and assistance.
Although a great deal of the Unit’s work involves responding to individuals’ needs, it must also be pro-active. For this reason it works as closely as possible with the Chamber of Commerce and with the Federation of Small Businesses and welcomes the opportunity to exchange ideas with others. Contact with banks, lawyers, accountants and other professionals through the relevant associations or with individuals are also maintained.
Working closely with these entities, as well as being in contact with the individual businessmen and women, allows the Unit to identify what other services can be offered. It also allows for making suggestions to bodies within and outside the Administration in order to improve the business environment.
Whilst the Business Advisory Unit is part of Government, it has been established to assist businesses. Its work, therefore, is geared towards this goal. However, in a number of cases it can act as a useful first point of contact to some Government departments.
In a constantly changing environment, the Unit has to respond accordingly.
It is the intention to add services, gearing the to the needs of the business community.
Projects in the pipeline involve the setting up of source, matchmaking and ideas exchanges, as well as the expansion of the business library to house not only publications but also relevant application forms and guidance notes. A web-site with regularly updated information is also being planned.
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