When you’re looking at financial growth for your company, it’s a good idea to pay attention to people who have been where you are before.
Among the many pieces of sage advice passed on by Steve Jobs, one should always stick in the mind for any entrepreneur: ‘Start small, think big.’
Starting small is hard enough. Turning the business idea jotted down on the back of a napkin into something tangible doesn’t happen overnight. But with the right ambition, drive and understanding, it’s possible to turn an idea into an iPhone.
Of course, not every SME will turn into Apple. Not every SME wants to. But for those looking to grow, there are more opportunities than ever to do so.
Uncertainty can lead to opportunity
Does that all sound a bit too optimistic? Certainly, although statistics suggest that the UK start-up scene is thriving – at times in the past few years we’ve been seeing more than 500 start-ups launch every day in London – the number of businesses that go on to successfully scale is far lower than in other countries.
And of course, it seems you can’t speak about growth or progress right now without throwing in great big caveats involving the phrases ‘Brexit’, ‘insecurity’ and ‘wait and see’.
But uncertain times can represent opportunities. When a business faces fresh challenges, it’s paramount that small business owners take control of their own future. When considering short and medium-term futures, nothing gives a business more confidence than understanding their own core capabilities.
One of those core capabilities is finance. Where are the next stages of finance coming from? What are your financial ambitions, and how are you set up to achieve them?
And whilst it may sometimes feel like there is a cloud over the British business community, there are a number of providers willing to finance homegrown SMEs.
If you get rejected by your bank and don’t have a network already in place to lean on – be that family, friends or business peers – it doesn’t mean you’re out of options at all (which is news, it seems, for the 56 per cent of those businesses who immediately gave up on finance after they were rejected by their bank).
Finding the right funding option
Often, discovering a finance option that can work for your business can simply come down to knowing where best to look. Indeed, a lack of awareness of the types of funding options available was identified as a key sticking point when we conducted a series of customer studies with the British Business Bank at the end of last year.
If you’re looking for equity investment, for instance, you’re having to comprehend options ranging from angel investment to corporate venture capital to equity crowdfunding and beyond. Those thinking debt options might be for them need to consider whether that means an overdraft, business loan, peer-to-peer lending or one of plenty other choices.
To navigate this minefield, there are some excellent, impartial resources that small business owners can access to find out more.
Objectivity is key, so unbiased public and private services are increasingly important. That includes this very site, while government-backed initiatives like the government’s Great Business site has a number of directories and tools that can open up new avenues for businesses looking to scale.
The British Business Bank’s new portal, financeyourgrowth.co.uk, takes the range of external finance options and distils each down so they’re easier to comprehend and see how you might apply. It quickly breaks down the finance options that are most suitable for a particular business.
Moving on to the next part
But identifying an avenue that’s right for you is only the start of the process. Once you are in a position to move forward, it’s worth doing additional research into how you can best get investor-ready.
From business support helplines available through greatbusiness.gov.uk to checklists and user journeys available on the British Business Bank site, it’s worth looking through further resources to equip yourself for growth. Investors want to see businesses who are prepared for investment, and you want to ensure you’re able to tick the right boxes.
Taking the next step for your financial growth is a big moment. So the more prepared you can be the better. The message is to not be despondent or give up simply because an initial setback can hurt. There are plenty of options there to help you capitalise. And you need to be in a position to understand what they offer.
Maybe, like Jobs, you did start small. But there’s never anything wrong with wanting to think big.
By Andrew Smith, chief strategy officer at Partners.
Useful link: – Looking for funding? Find the right finance for your business here