In a recent poll, we asked you about challenges to starting a business. Unsurprisingly, most of the respondents said finance, but just as many said strategic planning was a barrier.
Show me the money!
Securing finance for either a new or existing business is just one of the many challenges business owners face. The business finance marketplace has significantly expanded over the last 5 years with both new providers and a myriad of alternative products. Despite this complexity, funding and finance options essentially comprise grants, debt or equity.
Ian Dixon, Senior Access to Finance Specialist, from the GM Business Growth Hub provides some initial reflections on approaching your fundraising journey….
- Remember you are not alone, support and resources are available.
- It is essential that you clearly communicate your opportunity to potential lenders or investors. So be sure that your fundraising ‘assets’ are concise and focussed on the key requirements of the funders targeted. And avoid technical jargon! ‘Assets’ will vary according to the type of funding sought but typically include grant applications, business plans, financial forecasts, investment summaries and pitch decks.
- Know your numbers and be prepared to explain how these impact your funding proposal.
- Develop a resilient mindset. Perfection in fundraising doesn’t exist. Listen, learn and adapt your approach based on the feedback you will get.
- Like many aspects of your business, fundraising is a process. Planning and giving yourself time is important.
To help guide your understanding of which is appropriate to your stage of business development the Growth Company will launch the ‘SimpliFi’ platform on 30th November 2023. SimpliFi aims to expand your funding awareness, knowledge and understanding. It seeks to address many of your fundraising questions and importantly provide you with the links to sources of support for your future journey.
Register for the launch of SimpliFi here.
Fail to prepare... prepare to fail
Strategic planning is more than just a document you write once and never look at again.
It provides a clear roadmap for your future direction, setting priorities for the whole team. It also is a framework to drive decision making for the whole, so it’s best discussed and agreed as a team.
Peter Gaunt, Senior Business Adviser – Growth, GM Business Support, has helped hundreds of businesses get off the ground and thousands to grow over a period of 25 years in business support.
Here is Peter Gaunt’s advice on how to approach your planning -
- Financial management is key. It’s not just about funding or cost management it’s really important understand where the revenue growth is coming from? What are you key and new markets, major accounts, where will you be selling, what prices will you charge? This is as much about where your most profitable revenues come from as it is about managing costs and return on your investment into the business.
- Customer acquisition and customer retention. Where are these profitable customers coming from, what do they look like, act like and behave, what do you offer them? If acquisition strategies are important, they are nothing compared with retention. Remember it might cost as much as five time more to acquire a new customer compared with retaining a good one.
- Growth is rarely smooth - Sometimes growth happens in steps, when you’ve proven yourself, built genuine credibility and that large order drops, bigger than anything before. How do you resource it without losing your quality? How do you look after your existing customers? Where are the resources going to come from? The strategic plan needs to predict this with planning for “what do we do if the unexpected happens?” So, resource planning, optimisation and risk management are essential.
- Performance measurement. How are you doing on your growth path? Quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily perhaps. Goals, Objectives, KPIs.
- Communications - Not just marketing or social media, but how you communicate to all your stakeholders; colleagues, employees, customers, partners, shareholders.
- How your products and services contribute to sustainability and your community, how you ensure your company is one is respected locally, and your company is one that employees are proud to work for; ESG or Environmental, Social and Governance.
If you're looking to start a business, or are already getting started and need help our Enterprise and Growth team are here to support you. Get in touch today!
Contact us if you have faced these issues, or others, to access our wide range of business support.