Good financial advice throughout your business journey is invaluable. If you do invest in advice, you will quickly discover that advisers have experience of many businesses, whereas entrepreneurs may just have experience of the one they are in.
As a business owner, even someone who is experienced in accessing finance, you should always seek independent advice before taking on any product or approaching a finance provider. That independent advice can help you present the case for investment or lending in a way that will increase your chances of success.
Business owners build a network of trusted advisers that can provide support when making financial decisions. These will include your Chartered Accountant, your bank, investors and business partners.
Some of these advisers, such as your bank and investors, will provide valuable insights of particular products or solutions with their knowledge of your business. Others, such as Chartered Accountants and Corporate Finance Advisers should be able to provide independent advice on finance options, that is so important for these decisions.
Investment readiness may be the goal, but before a robust business plan can be prepared, the business may need access to knowledge and information so it can make the right finance choices.
Business mentors have both practical experience and a network of contacts to help businesses make the right choices. A mentor acts as an independent sounding board for ideas, provides guidance and support from a different perspective and directs the business to the right areas for appropriate help.
Coaching can help a business produce its business strategy and financial plan. Presentation training is extremely useful in helping management present the company and their plans in the best possible light. It prepares them for the rigorous scrutiny of those plans by potential lenders or investors.
At this stage, an adviser would be comfortable introducing the company to a network of investors or lenders. Many independent advisory firms offer mentoring services.
Accelerators and incubators
There are now many business accelerators across the UK, which can be a valuable resource for start-ups. There are many different types of accelerators, often supported by national or local government, academic organisations and large businesses. An accelerator provides advice, mentoring, and practical and technical support to groups of new ventures often in return for a small equity stake in the business. Some accelerators will also invest equity capital or convertible loans. Others may take an option to acquire an equity stake at a later date.
Incubators are similar to accelerators and mainly work in the science and technology sectors. These are co-working spaces, where early-stage businesses are given guidance when developing concepts into commercial projects, whether they have been independently developed or spun out of academic, government or commercial organisations.
Government and regional support
Government sources of information
The finance and support finder provides details on publicly supported finance, advice schemes, grants and loans.
The government’s Intellectual Property Office offers comprehensive guidance on using intellectual property to raise finance in its ‘IP Finance Toolkit’.
Support for businesses in Northern Ireland
Invest NI provides services, finance programmes, support and expert advice to businesses. In addition, debt and equity support is provided through external FCA-approved fund managers.
Support for businesses in Scotland
Business Gateway provides a first point of contact for all publicly funded advice to business and is delivered through the local authorities. It offers a range of advice and support to new, established and growing businesses. Visit the Scottish government’s business advice for further information.
Businesses can also find out about the funding opportunities available through the Scottish government’s website.
Businesses located in the Highlands and Islands region of Scotland should contact Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the economic and community development agency for the region, which provides support to businesses to help them shape and realise their growth ambitions.
Support for businesses in Wales
Business Wales provides support to people starting, running and growing a business.
The Development Bank of Wales helps businesses get the capital they need to start up, strengthen and grow. Businesses can get loans and investment from £1,000 up to £5m.
Local support for businesses across England
The government supports many local initiatives across England that help smaller businesses grow and access finance. You can find out what is available in your area by contacting your nearest Local Enterprise Partnership through the LEP network website.
Business growth hubs (England)
Growth hubs are public/private sector partnerships under the governance of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Finance at every stage
Business financing is not a one-off decision, but an ongoing and evolving situation. No decision can be made in isolation to the businesses journey. Find out more about what options are suitable now and what might work at another stage.
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