FREE support is being offered to new business owners as they face unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.

AD:VENTURE, a support programme for businesses in North and West Yorkshire, has moved its events and support online during the lockdown but advisers are still working hard behind the scenes to help.

The programme supports pre-start and new businesses which have been trading for up to three years and who have ambitions for growth. Help includes mentoring, events, access to finance and grant funding.

The Press Love Local Business campaign is highlighting support available, such as this, to help businesses get back on their feet.

Since the programme started in 2016, AD:VENTURE, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, has helped more than 3,000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved more than 160 grants to help start-up businesses grow.

Sarah Carling, programme manager, said: “Our advisors are here to support new business owners in these really tough times.

“As a new and growing business there are always so many things to consider, particularly in the current situation it can seem like you are literally spinning plates. With so much to do, it is easy for new businesses to feel the are too busy to access support. But this can be when it is most important. AD:VENTURE is here to provide that support.

“We can provide a listening ear, be a critical friend and offer practical help to overcome the real challenges ambitious businesses are facing currently; that might be funding or training or advice. Whatever a business needs, we will do our bit to help.”

Among those who have benefitted is Smiles and Miles, a tutoring business in Selby, launched by Sarah Oliver, a former primary school teacher.

She said: “The access to professional advice has been incredible and with so much business support out there, I can’t believe every start up isn’t tapping into what’s available.”

Thanks to Selby District Council and AD:VENTURE, Sarah was able to access individual business mentoring, specialist support for website and SEO development, and attended business workshops covering topics including customer relations and marketing.

Seminars and workshops have now gone online and AD:VENTURE is running webinars covering topics such as strategic marketing, networking, data protection and advertising law. Eligible businesses can book via

Sarah Oliver said: “I would not be where I am today without the help of AD:VENTURE and Selby Council. There is such a friendly business community here and everyone is so supportive, but you need to know where to go to access these networks in the first place.

“I never thought my business would become so successful so quickly and thanks to the support I’ve had I have learnt so much about how to think like an entrepreneur.”

AD:VENTURE can also help with funding, with grants of up to £25,000 available if match-funded.