Helping businesses achieve funding for growth
COMMENTATORS have underlined the critical need for small and medium sized firms to have access to the finance they need to grow. This is vital to their development and the success of the national economy.
A new project is being launched to address this need. Entitled 'Understanding Finance for Business' it is delivered by GWE Business West and its Partners across the South West (excluding Cornwall), and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Neil Higginson, who is leading the initiative, explains: "It is a cliché, but cash is the lifeblood of a business – and when businesses enjoy strong growth, their requirement for funding can increase significantly.
"Funding decisions made during these periods can have a fundamental impact on the long-term development of the business – our new service is designed to help entrepreneurs make the right choices."
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Nigel Howells, Head of ERDF competiveness programmes for the South West RDA commented: "Understanding finance is an important business support function for the region and one that we feel will deliver real results. There are lots of funding opportunities available to develop and invest in business, understanding and being able to secure this funding is a huge advantage for any company."
The new service offers firms an experienced finance coach, who can work with owners and managers over an agreed period, fine tuning their financial performance and if required put together a compelling case for raising finance.
Neil Higginson explains: "Finance is available to businesses, but lenders are looking for strong, clearly articulated propositions. They want to be confident that the management team has a product with the competitive advantage to succeed and a cashflow plan that allows them to meet repayments."
Through discussions with a range of lenders, Neil identified the following common mistakes:
Business owners can struggle to explain their new product or service without using jargon or technical language. The value proposition has to be clearly articulated - and it must be compelling.
Funders want to see evidence that the market is interested in the new product or service. Demonstrate customer feedback that proves serious interest.
Ensure that there is clarity in your cash projections – clearly demonstrate that you will be able to meet repayments. Maybe invest in having this plan vetted by a trusted financial adviser.
Don't be complacent or take your bank for granted. Make sure that you communicate on an on-going basis, so that there is an understanding of your business. If you are never in touch except for the time when you need a considerable amount of money – don't be surprised if they say no!
The Understanding Finance for Business programme offers businesses a minimum of 12 hours support including time with their dedicated business finance coach.
Neil said: "This new initiative will be a very welcome resource for local businesses. It will give them tailored and sound investment presentation capabilities, an understanding of all available options and potential exposure at investor forums."
The service is available for businesses which seek clarity of the finance and funding options available to support their growth. This comprises specialist workshops, tailored events and one-to-one business coaching.
To find out more about the new programme call 0117 2020 199 visit www.growthsouthwest.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To get involved in our 'Growing Business - the Big Conversation' campaign visit www.businessi.info/thebigconversation or follow us on Twitter @growthsouthwest
Other useful funding options can include grants and competitions. A competition, 'Born Global 2011' has been launched by GWE Business West in the South West and offers businesses with global growth potential the chance to win access to a £50,000 prize fund of cash, advice and professional services. The closing date for entries is 17th January 2011 – visit www.born2bglobal.co.uk for more details.