Got a Business Question? Ask Us Anything, It's Completely Free

*This service is provided free of charge to all clients of UBC’s serviced and virtual offices*

This time last year, UBC launched a partnership with business support and advice specialists, Mi Ventures. The arrangement means that all UBC clients have exclusive access to business support via an easy-to-use online chat system.

Simply type a question into the secure live chat system and get an instant response from a business advisor. It’s that easy.

But sometimes the prospect of “Ask me anything!” can feel daunting. What type of question should I ask? Who is my advisor? Do they have specific areas of expertise? Do they know my industry? What if it sounds like a daft question?

UBC interviewed one of the advisors at Mi Ventures to show you just how the live chat process works. We spoke to Liza Armstrong, a Business Advisor at Mi Ventures, who has a comprehensive background in business mentorship and incubation.

Hi Liza, tell us about your role at Mi Ventures: I’m a business advisor providing instant advice through our live chat system. Any UBC client can log onto the system for free and find a business guide, seek support or ask us a question.

What type of questions can they ask? We respond to all sorts of questions. The most popular are questions around tax, marketing advice, help growing a business, taking on a first employee, and how to start exporting. Often we receive queries from startups who have an idea but don’t know what to do next, or SMEs who have been running for a couple of years and need a little help identifying the next stages in their growth journey.

You must get asked a huge variety of questions. Does it involve a lot of research on your part? Yes, we conduct a lot of research! I have been here for several years and I work closely with a team of advisors, some are generalists and others have specialist expertise, so we work together to share knowledge between ourselves and with entrepreneurs seeking advice -- in this case, UBC clients.

In terms of research, we all take part in ongoing training to stay on top of new guidelines such as HMRC requirements, or emerging business trends. We have various tools and processes in place to help us do this, and we partner with relevant authorities or business groups to ensure we receive up-to-date information. For instance, we’ve just partnered with the Department of International Trade and we also work closely with ACAS.

What’s your background and how long have you been in the role? I have been in this role for 2 years, and in my previous role of 5 years I was a business advisor and incubation manager at our parent company, Wenta. During that time I worked with a huge range of organisations including startups, pre-starts and established firms, helping them to identify specialist support for growth opportunities. Before that, I was a business advisor for Business Link.

What are some of the questions you have tackled today? I have been working with a wool manufacturer business that’s looking for funding. We usually receive questions from consultancy type businesses, so a wool manufacturer is an interesting one! They have been going for 2-3 years and want to develop the business to expand into new markets. As part of our conversation I helped them identify funding for rural businesses and provided contacts for specialist support in the manufacturing sector.

What have been some unusual or challenging questions you have answered? Often, the challenging questions come from people who are fixed on a specific solution. For instance, a business owner may think they need financial help but what they actually need is a better marketing strategy. Often with a little digging we get to the root of their issue and come up with workable solutions.

For any UBC client who hasn’t tried the live chat service yet, why should they give it a go? You don’t know what you don’t know! Whether you are an independent consultancy, a new-start business or an established company, speak to us. We’re a very effective sounding board and we might be able to highlight new opportunities for you. It’s free after all, so you have nothing to lose!

Sign up or logon to Mi Ventures and ask a question here >

If you need further help or advice getting started, simply ask your Centre Manager or check out our blog guides: