By Jonathan Davies

There is just one week to go before the deadline for applications for the government's Growth Vouchers programmes.

Applications must be submitted by the closing date, 31 March 2015.

There are two key programmes; Growth Vouchers and Small Business Charter Growth Vouchers.

The Growth Voucher programme helps companies find and pay for professional strategic advice. After applying online some businesses will be randomly allocated a voucher for up £2000 to cover half the cost of the advice. The business chooses the accredited adviser from the Online Marketplace. That advice can make a huge difference to sales and profits, skills and confidence.

The Small Business Charter programme is specifically designed to address the issues faced by small businesses as they grow and is practically focussed to help owner managers apply business theory within the workplace. Designed and led by leading UK business schools, it begins with a free half-day diagnostic workshop and one-to-one mentoring session, after which some businesses will be randomly allocated a voucher equivalent to £3,000 to cover 60% of the cost of the full programme.

The full programme is a series of 10 practical, strategic growth workshops delivered over three months, with an additional 9 hours of professional mentoring support. You will meet other like-minded business owners, work with experienced faculty and business mentors, and leave the workshop with an action plan to help you unlock the growth potential of your business straight away.

Does it work?

Virtual Landline, a virtual telephone service based in Dorset, is part of the Growth Vouchers programme.

Chief Financial Officer, Mark Swire said: "The programme has enabled us to develop a more coherent market strategy, as previous to engaging in the programme we did not have adequate resource available. As a result, we have progressed Virtual Landline’s online presence and improved our social media output, which has been hugely beneficial. Additionally, as a business, we have been able to become much more customer-centric and have gained a better understanding of who our customers are and how they’ll use our service.

"We have found that the programme has been a useful strategic planning tool, as it has forced the management team to plan on a longer-term basis and consider the future in more detail. An additional benefit is the access we have gained to a well-connected network, which is beginning to lead to many business opportunities."

You can apply and find more information here.