Business Advice Toolkit

What style of business support or advice is likely to lead to business and employment growth, and are they cost effective?

About this toolkit 

On this page you can find a set of policy design guides to help you to make informed decisions when developing business advice policy. Each policy design guide covers a specific aspect of programme delivery so should not necessarily be directly compared. They are intended to help you understand:

  • how much is known about effectiveness, in comparison to costs
  • what you should consider if you are thinking about using a particular approach

About the evidence

This toolkit considers a broader evidence base than the Business Advice policy review (see how we sift through the evidence in our methodology, and guidance on how to use our reviews). We also include evidence from outside the OECD, or from other contexts, where this is appropriate.

How to use this toolkit

These policy design guides can’t provide definitive evidence on how to design effective business advice. But in all cases they provide useful evidence that could help underpin more effective policy development, as well as highlighting the need for effective monitoring and evaluation to further improve cost-effectiveness. For more on embedding evaluation in to policy design, read our how to evaluate guide.

Business Advice Tools

Click each header below to find out how they work, and in what context they are most likely to work.


Business mentors are experienced business professionals who provide advice to SMEs. Read about how they work

Public Advisors

Public advisory services offer advice on starting up or running a business. Read about how they work

Subsidised Consultancy

Subsidised consultancy programmes provide grants or vouchers to firms or entrepreneurs that cover all or part of the costs of private consultancy services. Read about how they work

Tailored Support

Advice tailored to the requirements of a business, often provided more intensively or for a longer period of time. Read about how they work


Training involves publically funded courses for existing firms or for individuals aiming to start a business. Read about how they work


Accelerators are business support programmes that provide short term, intensive packages of support to startups. Programme entry is highly competitive. Read about how they work


Incubators are business support programmes that provide co-working plus business support to startups. Firms typically pay to join. Read about how they work

Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs)

IFAs provide area information and advice to increase inward foreign direct investment. Read about how they work

Export Promotion Agencies (EPAs)

EPAs provide market information and advice to help firms sell their products overseas. Read about how they work

Export Credit Agencies (ECAs)

ECAs help finance exports by providing direct credit, credit guarantees, or credit insurances. Read about how they work


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