Growing your business is an exciting time. But when it comes to finding finance, enthusiasm won’t take you all the way. Preparation is key.
Having a clear picture of the road ahead helps you plan for any surprises that may arise.
It can help give you clarity when identifying suitable finance options, and confidence when looking to make the most of your opportunities.
This article will take you from planning your growth strategy to pitching to an investor. Here’s everything you need to know about growing your business.
Planning for growth
So you know you want to grow your business – but what are you trying to achieve?
First, decide what success looks like to you. Then map out how you’ll reach your goals.
- What’s your action plan for the next 12 months?
- For the next three years?
- The next five years?
Once you have a clear vision, you’ll get closer to knowing where external finance could come in.
You may have got to this stage thanks to a large chunk of will, excitement and momentum. But now it’s time to breathe.
Spend some time identifying your business’ key needs.
- Do you understand your strengths and areas of development?
- Do you have clear goals in place and the ambition to hit them?
A good foundation here will help you further down the line if you need to pitch to potential investors.
Assessing your options
You have the plan and you’re ready to grow. But do you have the right financial capital to execute your strategy?
When you start to look for finance, it can feel overwhelming. It’s worth getting to know the range of options before deciding which is right for you.
And it may be that your business could use more than one form of finance. So there’s no harm in exploring – just be wary of over-leveraging your business as it may be off-putting for some investors further down the line.
Break down your search for finance into steps.
One decision you’ll have to make is between equity finance and debt finance. At a very high level:
- Equity involves selling shares to raise money
- Debt involves borrowing money
Choosing between equity and debt depends on a number of factors, including your attitude to ownership and growth.
If you’re happy to sell a share of ownership and your business is ready to significantly grow over the long term, equity might be better for you.
See the full range of finance options available
Read our success stories to learn how other UK businesses have used external finance
Use our quick six-step tool to see which finance options could work for you
Learn when it might be worth considering equity and debt
Searching for finance
Once you’ve decided what type of finance suits your business, you need to start looking for an investor or finance provider.
It can be very tempting to take the first offer. However, it’s important to keep your options open and find a deal that’s right for you – whether that’s the right type of debt or the right investor relationship.
Peers and networks
Speak to contacts who have gone through the same process. This should give you a better idea of what might work best for you.
Whether you’re looking at equity or debt, there are lots of ways to access potential funders or investors.
You could find an expert finance partner or a financial adviser, for example. Not only can their wealth of knowledge help increase your reputation, but they have a network of valuable contacts too.
Don’t forget to make the most of your own professional network. Grow your contact list by attending industry events. You’ll quickly start to expand your pool of contacts, and a contact from your existing network can go a long way.
If you can’t get an introduction from your existing contacts, write a personal email or make a phone call yourself.
Securing the finance
Like most businesses actively seeking investment or debt finance, you’ll be asked to present your business plan and ideas.
See this as an opportunity to find someone who believes in your business as you do. If you know what you’re looking for, an investor or lender can offer you much more than money.
You know your business better than anyone, so tell a story. Be honest and passionate: that way you’re more likely to find someone you actually connect with.
Remember: this partnership could last long into the future, so it needs to feel right.
Growing your business can be a long, hard journey. There are rarely any quick wins, or challenges you can avoid.
But if you’re prepared for the slog and have a clear, well-thought-through business plan, the end result could be very rewarding.