9 Ways You Can Digitalise Your Business With EU Funds

9 Ways You Can Digitalise Your Business With EU Funds

Small businesses with big ambitions appreciate the value of digitalisation. Taking full advantage of the opportunities of the online world is an important way to compete with large brands and international corporations.

Your business may be local, but in today’s economy, your competition is likely not.

Adapting your business to include an online element does not need to involve a revolution. It can be done simply and over a period of time to avoid any disruptions. With the right expertise, you can get hold of all the necessary software and hardware necessary, as well as the training needed to operate it.

The SME Digitalisation Grant Scheme

To aid the competitiveness of Maltese businesses in an international setting, the Maltese government has recently launched the SME Digitalisation Grant Scheme. This cash grant provides assistance of up to €50,000 per business entity and is open to SMEs, including self-employed persons.

Support from this scheme can go towards covering 50% of eligible expenses across nine categories. If the entity is based in Gozo, support increases to 60%.

1. Development of an eCommerce Website

An eCommerce website can transform your physical shop from a local business into an international retailer. These websites come in many shapes and sizes, but one of their common characteristics is that the website is able to accept online payments.

This means that to be eligible for this grant, your eCommerce website must sell goods or services online and provide online payment options, such as cards, and eWallets.

2. Purchase of Software

No digital business can run smoothly without adequate software. Whether off-the-shelf or designed specifically for your operations, you can offset a significant portion of software costs using the SME Digitalisation Grant Scheme.

Many businesses have benefitted greatly by investing in point of sale (POS) or customer resource management (CRM) software. Such software offers automation and the ability to efficiently track orders, customer data, and sales records.

3. Purchase of Hardware

Software applications would be useless unless your business has the right hardware for the job. Beyond typical desktop computers and laptops, this cash grant supports the purchase of specialized hardware, including port replicators, tablets, and docking stations.

4. Investment in Analytical Tools

To truly compete in a globalised world you need to get an in-depth understanding of your customers. The right analytical tools provide you with insight into your customers’ shopping habits and preferences, allowing you to plan effective sales and marketing campaigns.

5. Implementation of Cyber Security Measures

You need to protect your online business for the same reasons that you lock your door when you close your store. This digitalisation grant scheme covers all cyber security costs, such as firewalls, encryption software, anti-virus software, and scanning tools.

6. Accessing Cloud Computing Solutions

One of the key elements of any successful online business is a cloud computing infrastructure. With such a system, different devices and users can communicate with each other across different locations without needing to depend on a physical server or person.

7. Installation of Wifi and Internet Equipment

The SME Digitalization Grant Scheme also covers part of the costs of installing or upgrading Wifi and Internet equipment. Without adequate routers, switches, and cables, your business would likely suffer excessive downtime and poor connections that would frustrate clients.

8. Purchase of Other Software and Hardware

To support innovative businesses, this grant scheme does not limit the purchase of software or equipment to named options. Instead, the adjudicating board is willing to consider any meaningful investment as long as it fits into the business operations and will aid digitalisation.

9. Training on Acquired Software and Hardware

This cash grant scheme also covers setup and training costs to help your team use the software and hardware that you’ve invested in. By receiving proper training, team members will be brought up to speed quickly and will be shown the best solutions to common issues.

The Fine Print of the SME Digitalization Grant Scheme

As with any support measure issued by the national government, there are terms and conditions that all applicants must be aware of.

The main objective of this grant is to assist micro, small, and medium-sized businesses that are registered and operational in Malta to invest in digitalisation solutions. Only eligible software, hardware, and training for projects which are yet to be implemented will be supported. Any investment that has already received funding from other national or EU support measures is not eligible.

When calculating the maximum cash grant that can be given to a business entity, the adjudicating board will consider De Minimis State Aid. This means that if your business has received prior funding, you may not be eligible for the full value of this grant.

In addition, all investments must be completed and installed, if applicable, within 24 months from the signing of the grant agreement.

Making the Most of Your Business Digitalisation Efforts

The SME Digitalization Grant Scheme may be an excellent source of funds to assist your enterprise to start or develop its online presence. Get in touch with a member of the NM Advisory Services team today to discuss your plans for transforming your business.

Our team of experts will be able to explain the benefits of this scheme in further detail and even identify additional support options that may include cash grants and tax credits.

 

How to grow your business and get a guaranteed return

As a business owner, one of your constant concerns may be how to grow your business. This is a very natural and necessary challenge which can provide new opportunities while also developing your enterprise into a more resilient one. But as we all know, growing a business can present several risks – especially when so much effort and resources are needed to ensure sound implementation. Plus, very often business owners take on additional personal risk or put a strain on the business’ financials in order to see things through.

The good news is that business growth can be just as exciting as it is scary. Growth encourages innovation and diversification, the very basis of entrepreneurship. In fact, the EU, together with the Maltese government, has developed a grant which reduces the risk for you and your business. This is better known as the SME Growth Grant Scheme.

The Support Your Business Deserves

The SME Growth Grant Scheme is targeted at micro, small and medium-sized businesses. A maximum grant of €500,000 is being offered per applicant, based on the total cost of the growth project. Micro and small businesses can benefit from 30% funding, whereas a medium-sized business can get up to 20%. This grant can allow your business to capitalise on new opportunities and become more sustainable over the long-term.

Getting access to capital has always been a challenge for Maltese businesses. The long and expensive process involved in getting funding from traditional institutions can easily make you miss a golden opportunity. In contrast, this grant allows for a much faster process at a considerably lower price.

Eligible Funding Projects

In simple terms, the SME Growth Grant Scheme can support the investments which will help you generate a higher revenue. Whether you are diversifying your business or building on past successes, there are several ways in which this grant can help you. These include:

  • Leasing of private premises
  • Construction of new property
  • Purchasing of equipment
  • Investment in energy efficient machinery
  • Purchasing of patent right or licences

The ultimate goals of the SME Growth Grant Scheme are to support local enterprises to reach their full potential while also encouraging further employment and development. In order to be deemed successful, each grant application needs to adhere to strict guidelines so as to ensure a just distribution of funds… which is what our team of funding experts is for!

NM Group can handle your SME Growth Grant Scheme application and offer advisory on eligible costs. Through our experienced consultants, we continue to achieve a success rate of over 95% for all grant applications. Get in touch today to benefit from this or any other grant or support measure!

The Secret To Writing A Foolproof Business Plan

A common question we get from entrepreneurs is if a business plan is necessary.

And our answer all depends on what you believe is necessary. Business owners often view business plans as an extra hassle, especially when it’s only needed as a required document by a third party. But what happens when you need to take stock of all your ideas and projections?

A great business plan can not only represent a business’ scope on paper, but it can also act as a roadmap to success.

So, even if is a business plan isn’t formally required – it has its uses. How do you make it foolproof?

First things first. Not all business plans are created equal.

There is no specific rule which says that a plan needs to have so many pages, chapters or statistics. In order to understand the level of detail, what data and which arguments to include, the writer must first understand their audience. A business plan to be used by the entrepreneur will probably not require the same information needed for one that’s presented to third parties, such as banks or investors.

So, with an audience in mind, what kind of information should you include?

The Basics

When it comes to writing business plans there are standard areas that are addressed, such as:

  • Mission statement and vision Statement
  • Company description
  • Unique traits of your products and services
  • Finances
  • Market strategies
  • Operations and management plan

Even if you don’t have any grand ideas for these elements, writing about it in your business plan will force you to consider your options and help you choose a direction.

Now that you have a fair idea of how to split up your plan, it’s time to think about it in context.

A plan for your own use

If you’re creating a business plan for yourself or your inner circle, then detail is not as important as objectivity. The goal of the plan is for you to put down your thoughts on paper so that you can visualise them better. In this way, you can identify any possible gaps in your reasoning or in your business model. The plan itself can be very short, and you can find templates for one-pagers across the web.

Although detail is not necessary for such a plan, critical thinking is. You need to ensure that you’ve got all your bases covered, from your core products or services to the organisation of your business. The thought process which is involved is the same as that used to make a more detailed plan.

A plan for third parties

When you need a business plan that will be read by people outside of your business, you need to include background information and more detailed explanations than you would in a one-pager.

Again, deciding what you would include in the plan depends very much on its audience. A bank might require more detailed financials, whereas an investor would be looking for key people that will ensure the success of the business. Even applying for local and EU-funded grants require particular information to be included.

Once you provide your plan to the third party, it will probably be read by a number of people –  your business plan is officially under scrutiny. These people will be checking the plan for several criteria, not least, consistency. There is nothing worse when a plan that says one thing on one page and then says the opposite on another.

Another important element that is often sought is data to back up your proposals and arguments. This is where market research really pays off. Put yourself in the third party’s shoes – their investment in you involves a certain level of risk. This business plan is your chance to prove to them that not only is your project worth the risk – it’s got potential to bring in a return too.

When do I know it’s ready?

A business plan is not a static document – as with your business, your plan will evolve over time.

The point of the plan is not so much to instruct as it is to guide. New business opportunities and changing environments will constantly challenge your business, and having a plan will help you make the right decisions at the right time.

Researching and writing a business plan is a time-consuming effort, especially if you are very busy. NM Group can create your plan and get you funding to cover the majority of the costs. We can also use your business plan to apply for a range of funding opportunities. It’s a win-win!

Get in touch today on [email protected].