Invest in advice today
Good independent 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.
Government sources of information
greatbusiness.gov.uk links to key sources of advice for businesses looking to grow, export and recruit.
gov.uk/business provides advice on starting, running, growing and financing a business, with an accompanying helpline available on:
- telephone: 0300 456 3565
- textphone: +44 (0)20 8742 8620.
gov.uk/business-finance-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’, which can be found at gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectualproperty-office .
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 accelerator, often supported by the EU, national or local government, academic organisations and large businesses. An accelerator provides advice, mentoring, 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.