Why and How You Should Scale Up Your Business

Why and How You Should Scale Up Your Business

If you are thinking about ways to scale up your business, you might well have been looking at high growth companies and wondering how you can continuously innovate and create high growth in your businesses. We all know the superstars (eBay, Alibaba, Netflix, Google, Starbucks, Apple, Cisco and Dell) and their path from start-up to scale-up status, employing thousands of jobs. Scaling up and staying dynamic and entrepreneurial looks like living the dream.

How can I scale up successfully?

As with everything in life, you need to start from where you are! The good news is that in as little as four minutes, you can get your Scale Up health check when you take our free Scale Up and Exit Business Assessment. This report will give you insights into your business worth thousands of pounds!

Learn from the Experts

In his book, Scale Up!, the FD Centre’s Chairman Colin Mills defines scale-ups as companies that have grown by 20% a year for a minimum of three years and which started the three year period with a minimum of 10 employees.

Scale-ups disrupt and revolutionise entire industries, according to a Deloitte & THNK report. “They embody ingenuity, innovation, and foresight,” its authors concluded after studying 400,000 enterprises worldwide.

You Don’t Have to be a Start Up

There’s a common misconception that only startups can be innovative, dynamic and entrepreneurial. Yet as scale-ups like Google and Alibaba illustrate, that’s far from the case.

Perhaps startups attract more attention because there’s so many of them: it’s estimated that there are 300 million startups globally. By comparison, only a tiny fraction of startups ever survive long enough to make the transition to scale up, according to the authors of the Deloitte report.

“Our research shows that the chances of a new enterprise to ascend as a scale-up are around 0.5%, which means that only 1 out of 200 surviving new enterprises will become a scale-up. ‘Unicorns’ make up the even smaller subset of scale-ups; only 104 startups are valued over $1 billion.”

Scaling Up Boosts Economies

Those companies that do become scale-ups help to boost local, national and international economies. They provide direct, ongoing employment and that, in turn, creates more consumer spending which in turn stimulates the economy and expands the tax base.

Or as business guru and venture capitalist, Daniel Isenberg says in Scale-Up!, “One venture that grows to 100 people in five years is probably more beneficial to entrepreneurs, shareholders, employees and governments alike, than 50 which stagnate at two years.”

Contrary to what many policymakers believe, startups don’t help economies to flourish or cause per capita income to rise.

“The relationship between per capita income and entrepreneurial activity is generally negative, rather than positive as is often believed,” wrote Scott Shane, Professor at Case Western Reserve University, in Entrepreneur magazine. He referenced a Gallup Organisation survey which compared per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the fraction of the population that reported being self-employed in 135 countries. It showed that the self-employed fraction had a negative linear relationship with the log of GDP.

“That is, self-employment rates are lower in rich countries than in poor ones.”

Does Your Business Model Move You to Growth?

But growing a company past the start-up phase is not without its share of challenges, whether they are related to employees, sales and marketing, operations, administration, or finance. Most importantly, if growing companies don’t have the right infrastructure to support their expanded operations, those challenges can become increasingly severe.

“While on paper, they may have the revenue, the manufacturing base or customer reach of a substantial business, the culture, the controls, the processes, the personnel and the leadership remain those of a much smaller business than they were a short time before,” says Mills in Scale-Up!.

“Worse, they haven’t yet accumulated the resources to build and maintain that infrastructure.”

If the situation is not resolved, the business will outrun itself (cash reserves will dwindle as it tries to meet the expanded demands) or get stuck (as the owner and employees find themselves unable to cope with the problems).

But if you revise your business model, you can overcome these challenges or even avoid them altogether.

“You need to consider your whole business model, because if you have a terrible business model, then the last thing you want to do is to start scaling it,” says Mills.

How our CFOs Support Scale Up Businesses

The CFO Centre’s part-time FDs or CFOs help clients revise their business model using a framework known as the ’12 Box’ approach.

It has three levels:

  1. Operational
  2. Strategic
  3. Business Support

Operational

This refers to finance operations and focuses on two key aspects: cash and profitability. There are four boxes: Cash Flow Management and Profit Improvement (which generate money), and Internal Systems and Reporting (which generate time for management).

Strategic

This involves your finance strategy: how are you going to finance the business to achieve future cash and profits? The four boxes in this section cover: Risk Assessment, Strategic Funding, Strategic Activities and Exit Planning, and an Implementation Timetable.

Business Support

This involves crucial tasks such as compliance, tax planning and legal issues, banking relationships and outsourcing. In the case of The CFO Centre’s FDs they don’t carry out the tasks but instead, manage the work on a client’s behalf. They’ve built relationships with the right people in each country where they operate so that they can connect clients with the right supplier at the right cost when they need it, and then manage the work on their behalf.

Find Your Future Challenge Areas

If you haven’t taken the quiz already, you can identify strengths and weaknesses in your business in just four minutes with our Scale Up and Exit Business Assessment. Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive a customised page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Take your Scale Up and Exit Business Assessment now. Uncover how your company is performing in terms of your finance function and also uncover untapped opportunities for non-linear growth.

To discover how The CFO Centre will help your company to scale up, please call us now on 0800 169 1499 or contact us here.

Updated from a post originally published in December 2018

MAN Commercial Ltd

MAN Commercial Ltd

We recently teamed up with our client MAN Commercial Protection Limited, to film an exclusive Client Experience story, showcasing their journey over the past 28 years!

If you feel inspired by their success and you’d like to start your own Scale Up journey, we can help you get started! In as little as four minutes, you can discover where you are now with our free Scale Up and Exit Business Assessment. This report will give you insights into your business worth thousands of pounds!

Don’t Call it Your Dream, Call it Your Plan

Don’t Call it Your Dream, Call it Your Plan

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” Charlotte Bronte

Business-owners the world over have spent the past year or more searching keenly for silver linings around the pandemic cloud. It can be hard to decipher the wisdom in Ms Bronte’s words when we haven’t always felt free to make our own decisions.

What Bronte’s words can do however is remind us why we’re here in the first place: to live our lives as fully and as satisfyingly as possible.

Life through a lens

One of the toughest challenges for owners of SMEs is to be able to stand back, to look at their business through a wide-angle lens and identify what it is they really have.

Because quite often, the day-to-day distractions and diversions that inevitably surround the running of a successful business get in the way of sensible, objective evaluation and strategic decision-making. Crucially, that can mean that really important opportunities to grow and develop go at best un-exploited and at worst, un-noticed.

This is where the role of Finance Director/Chief Finance Officer becomes so vital. And where the specific advantages of joining forces with a part time (and often virtual) FD or CFO are brought sharply into focus.

Allow yourself to dream…

What does your FD/CFO do for you as the owner of an SME? With a bit of luck they’ll make sure that everyone gets paid the right amount at the right time; they’ll do their best to keep things square with HMRC; sort out your internal reporting, compliance and tax planning, and probably run your relationship with your bank.

While that (along with a few other bits and pieces) is probably enough to keep a business ticking over, it’s not a reasonable platform on which to base a sound growth strategy.

Of course, things might look even worse if you don’t have an FD/CFO on your team. Whatever your business and whatever your own specific talent, it’s almost certain that you didn’t get into business to spend your life doing cashflow projections or dealing with HMRC! No dreaming for you – you’re more likely to be waking up at 3am in cold sweats.

An FD/CFO can help make your dreams come true

When you started your company, you almost certainly allowed yourself to dream – every successful business operator needs ambition. But as we’ve seen, all too often those aspirations become bogged down in the everyday grind of keeping a business afloat.

The FD & CFO Centre team provides FD and CFO expertise of a very high calibre – the top 1% of talent in the marketplace. These are people who know their stuff – the operational finance stuff, which keeps the wheels in motion and the strategic finance stuff, which brings the dream to life.

In many cases they’re able to draw on their own business success to guide others.

An FD/CFO will help decode the dream and turn it into a plan and be the one to hold you to account to make it happen. He or she will bring forward the target by showing you how to come at it from a different angle. Great FDs/CFOs are catalysts and can help you break the pattern of linear growth and get you what you really want on an expedited timetable. And that’s essential if the dream is still to come true.

The FD & CFO Centre ‘Entrepreneur Journey’: our ‘secret sauce’

All our FDs/CFOs operate within an environment that provides comprehensive support and expertise. The FD & CFO Centre has a global network – a Collective Intelligence Engine – of more than 700 individuals, each of whom has achieved success as an FD, a CFO and often as an MD or CEO, themselves. What’s more, they are uniquely able to access and deploy the limitless potential locked up in your business model. And they talk to each other, share expertise, experiences and contacts.

In brief, an FD Centre FD/CFO will guide the entrepreneur on a three-stage journey to achieve clarity about what it is they really want from their business. To take them from where they are now, to where they want to be.

And to be clear: ‘where they want to be’ is an individual choice for the business owner. It might involve scaling up significantly; it could mean launching new products in new markets around the world; perhaps it means ratcheting up your multiple as you prepare for exit. Whatever form it takes, it’s invariably about making that dream a reality by refashioning the plan and making sure it actually happens.

Stage One on the journey covers the process of achieving operational excellence. In other words enabling an organisation to do what it does best, to the best extent possible.

Stage Two, strategic opportunity, involves preparing the springboard. This is where the strategy to achieve those dreams is forged. Perhaps it’s a question of entering new markets; evaluating risk, raising new funds. Whatever the strategy, it’s based on sound experience and, yes, that ‘secret sauce’ that blends the logic with a little magic and know how.

Stage Three, game-changing performance is, simply, what happens when stages one and two are complete.

The dream is achieved by developing a concise roadmap based on what the business owner wants to achieve. The role of the FD is to identify and unlock that potential – thus freeing the dream and making it a reality.

Fly like a bird

Of course this is not to suggest that success comes easily. Business challenges are usually complicated and risky. That’s another reason why potential isn’t always realised; why many business owners end up working late nights on mundane tasks.

So one of the first conversations an FD will have with a client is to understand what it is that motivates them to be in business, and what they want to achieve from it. What really matters to them. There are numbers, many numbers, in the life of an FD or CFO. But it’s identifying and understanding the numbers that really matter in the client’s life that is crucial.

In the UK, after a year of battling with three sets of increasingly stringent lockdown restrictions, things finally look more positive. Many businesses have a lot of ground to make up however. An FD/CFO can help to structure a clear and effective path toward realising dreams that may have temporarily been put on hold.

Charlotte Bronte’s passionate cry tells us that we should never allow ourselves to be ensnared, to be dragged down by the minutiae of life. An FD & CFO Centre FD/CFO aims to unlock that potential and give wings to the dream.

Inventing our way out of the pandemic

Inventing our way out of the pandemic

Here’s another in our continuing series of ‘reasons for business owners to be cheerful’, based around a seminar session delivered to The CFO Centre by respected UK behavioural economist Roger Martin-Fagg.

Necessity. It’s the Mother of Invention, as we know. When the going gets tough, we all know how that phrase ends. But it is an undeniable fact that while innovation in general can happen at more or less any time, it’s when our backs are against the wall that we see these innovations actually put to valuable use.

So we emerge from challenging times armed with new skills and new tools with which to feed business success. For example, most of us are by now all too familiar with the concept and practice of video conference calling. We’re aware of the value of a dressed background, a well-lit subject, an adequate microphone and above all a reliable broadband connection – even if we can’t always attain them. It’s a skill many of us didn’t recognise or require 18 months ago.

The pandemic inevitably means that office working and commuting won’t dominate the working landscape as it once did. In a survey conducted after the first lockdown, 78% of employers said productivity had either stayed unchanged or increased, after home working was encouraged[1].

On a macro scale, the smart investment money is pouring into quantum computing technology, which will deliver transformational processing power and efficiency to functions such as back-office administration and operational support. It’ll mean white collar redundancies, but it’ll also mean leaner, more efficient businesses. Businesses that, since the Brexit deal was signed, will (bar the inevitable teething issues) continue to trade with Europe.

So, despite plenty of apparent evidence to the contrary, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2021 and beyond. More to the point, there’s a great deal to prepare for. Good luck and keep those glasses half full. And who knows, we might soon be raising them in a pub…

[1] https://www.alliancevirtualoffices.com/virtual-office-blog/remote-working-statistics/

How to Scale Your Business for Growth

How to Scale Your Business for Growth

If you want to scale up your business and make it a success, you should begin by asking yourself a couple of tough questions about your company’s capability and its capacity to deal with growth. This is not the time for egos and optimism; it’s time for honest reflection. You need to get a clear perspective on your current position. Many entrepreneurs tell us that they find this hard. They’re too close to their businesses and that means they don’t have the perspective to assess the situation clearly. To overcome this, you could consider turning to a trusted professional, like a CFO, or you might have a business mentor or coach who can give you dispassionate advice.

Before you begin scaling your business, these are the two tough questions that every entrepreneur should ask:

  1. Is your company capable of growing? Are you and the employees in your company capable of dealing with a growing amount of work or sales and of doing it cost-effectively? What happens if your company achieves exponential growth? Will your costs rise exponentially as a result?
  2. Does your company have the capacity to deal with growth? Can your business systems, employees, and infrastructure scale up fast to meet demand? For instance, if you get a sudden surge in orders, will your company be able to cope? Will you be still able to manufacture and deliver products or services on time? Do you have enough employees to deal with a surge in work or sales?

As you scale up your business, it’s really important that your quality and performance stay the same. You’ve built a reputation on delivering a certain standard and you don’t want to lose that by scaling up without robust plans in place. You also don’t want to run out of money because your rapid growth hits your cashflow.

Once you’ve finished your review, it’s time for you to work out which of the 7 factors for a successful business scale up you’re going to need. Investing in the preparation stage is the key to success – when you get this right, you can scale up rapidly and meet your goals. Remember to keep sight of your personal goals (what we call the Numbers That Really Matter), as well as your targets for your business. At the CFO Centre, we have a passion for helping clients to balance what’s important to feel accomplished both in their work and as humans.

You can see that you are going to need some careful planning and some funding to scale your business. You’ll also need to have the right systems, processes, technology, staff, finance, and even partners in place. If this sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry! Our CFOs have shared their incredible wealth of knowledge and experience so we can provide you with the 7 factors that they find in all effective business scale ups.

1. Identify the gaps in your processes

You need to audit your business processes (core processes, support processes, and management processes) to find their strengths and weaknesses. Find the process gaps and address them before you start to scale up.

Keep the processes simple and straightforward. Remember that complex processes slow things down and hinder progress.

2. How will you boost sales when you scale up?

Ask yourself what your company needs to do to increase sales. How many new customers will you need to meet your scaled-up goals?

Create a sales growth forecast that details the number of new clients you need, the orders, and the revenue you want to generate.

Examine your existing sales structure and decide if it can generate more sales. Can you increase your flow of leads? Do you need to offer different products or services? Is there an untapped market? Do you have a marketing system to track and manage leads? Is your sales team capable of following up and closing more leads?

Make sure you have enough staff to cope with an increase in sales. If you don’t have enough staff, consider hiring new employees, outsourcing tasks, or finding partners that may be able to handle functions more efficiently than your company.

3. Forecast scaling up costs as accurately as possible

Once you’ve done the sales growth forecast, create an expense forecast. This should include the new technology, employees, infrastructure and systems you’ll need so you are ready to handle the new sales orders. The more detailed your cost estimates, the more realistic your plan will be.

4. Get funding to cover your business expansion

If you need to hire more staff, install new technology, add facilities or equipment, and create new reporting systems, you’ll need money to invest. If you don’t have enough reserves to do this then you need to find money another way. Check out our helpful article if you aren’t sure how to fund your company’s growth.

5. Make delighting customers a priority

To reach your sales forecasts, your company will need loyal customers. You’ll win their loyalty by delivering outstanding products or services and customer service every time you interact with them. Don’t let scaling up reduce your quality.

6. Invest in the right technology

As you scale up, you and your team will find that manual tasks become overwhelming. If you leap from processing 5 website sales each day (for example) to 5 sales per hour, your employees will quickly get overwhelmed. You need to be ready to invest in technology that will automate tasks and you need to allow enough time to find the technology, migrate from your old system and train your team. In the end, all businesses depend on automation to bring costs down and make production more efficient.

Another important point in this area is integrating technology. You can have the best systems in the world but your business will struggle to thrive if they aren’t integrated. You need robust, scaleable systems that work smoothly together.

7. Successful scale up is hard – ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from experts who have experience in scaling up companies. We love this quote from an interview with Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. He said,

“I’ve never found anybody who didn’t want to help me when I’ve asked them for help.

“I’ve never found anyone who’s said no or hung up the phone when I called – I just asked.

“Most people never pick up the phone and call; most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you’ve gotta be willing to fail; you gotta be ready to crash and burn, with people on the phone, with starting a company, with whatever. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

You can ask a high profile entrepreneur for help, turn to a trusted mentor or recruit a part-time CFO sit beside you. Whatever you choose, you will need a supportive, non-judgmental partner. A person who will help you develop a forward looking, scale up strategy that delivers the right numbers so your business can grow and fulfil your aspirations.

Find out how an experienced scaling-up CFO can help you

Would you like a chance to talk to someone who understands exactly how to de-risk your scale up? We’re pretty sure the answer is “yes” so why not book a no-obligation, 60 minute discovery call with one of our superstar CFOs?

Simply give us a call on 0800 169 1499 and let our in-house team know that you’re looking to scale up your business. They’ll book in your call and help you get your journey to success underway.

 

Checklist: How to Sell Your Business Fast

Checklist: How to Sell Your Business Fast

Want to Sell Your Business? Follow our 11 step Checklist to Plan Your Perfect Exit Strategy

You’ve decided that time has come to sell your business. As the owner, the responsibility falls on you and now you need to find the right buyer, who is willing to pay the right price, at the right time. To make sure your business sale runs smoothly and efficiently, you need to have 3 important elements in place. Firstly, your business has to be in the right state of health. Secondly, you should have the right advisors working with you, and thirdly, you need to get your timing right. When these factors come together, you can make the sale of your business a success and complete the negotiations in a short timescale.

Is my Business Exit-Ready?

In as little as four minutes, you can get your Exit health check when you take our free Scale Up and Exit Business Assessment. This report will give you insights into your business worth thousands of pounds!

With or without your free assessment, you’ll need to clarify where you stand on these key points:

  1. Why you want to sell the company and what you hope to achieve.
  2. Your ideal buyers and what their plans for the business would be. Does their style of ownership matter to you?
  3. Your goals for the sale. Do you want an earn-out clause or a cash sale?
  4. How you’ll improve the current value of your business to get the best price.
  5. How to market your business to potential purchasers. You need to decide whether to use business brokers to do this or do it yourself.
  6. The timing of the sale. You need to sell the company while patents, licenses, leases, etc. still have value on your assets register. If these important components are close to their expiry dates, their value will reduce.
  7. Due diligence. You’ll need accountants, legal advisors, along with specialists in tax, sales, and IT to perform vendor due diligence and make that information available in a virtual or real data room for potential buyers.
  8. Who will negotiate the deal? Are you able to do this yourself or would you prefer to entrust this important role to a trusted advisor or professional?

The following checklist was developed by our highly experienced CFOs who have helped many clients with successful business sales. Follow their checklist to help you to achieve the best deal for your company.

Your Exit Plan Checklist

1. Clarify why you want to sell your business

You need to decide why you want to sell your company. This is a question that prospective buyers will ask you, and it will have an impact on the business sale.

There are many reasons for deciding to exit a business. For instance, do you want to retire because you’re fed up with the stress of running a business or are you suffering from ill-health? Or is it because you want to start a new business, or allow someone with more expertise to take it to the next level? If you are an entrepreneur and you enjoy growing businesses to sell on, be clear about why you believe this is the right time for you to exit.

Your reasons for selling the business could have an impact on the timing and outcome of the sale. For instance, if you decide you must find a buyer as soon as possible, you might have to accept a lower price or less attractive deal.

2. Decide what you’re selling

You need to decide if you’ll sell some or all of your company’s assets or the legal entity of your business as a share sale. On a related note, a potential purchaser will also want to know whether or not your management team will stay with the company or leave with you.

3. Focus on areas of improvement

Identify the issues and areas of improvement in your business and develop a plan for dealing with them.

For example, how can your company become less reliant on one or two major customers or suppliers? Are there areas that will benefit from cost-cutting? Is there a potential for rapid growth in the business? Can you improve productivity? If you can begin implementing improvements in these areas, you will increase the sale valuation of your company. This should also make it more attractive to a wider number of potential new owners.

4. Prepare your accounts

You need to show how well the company has performed in the past few years.

Prospective buyers will expect to see at least three years of trading accounts. Be honest about your profits, factoring arrangements and tax position. Buyers will be put off if they discover reports are missing or inaccurate. It will make them doubt your claims about the company’s health.

5. Get your paperwork in order

Your company paperwork needs to be up to date and available to prospective buyers.

They’ll want to see supplier/buyer arrangements, licenses, maintenance agreements, lease or hire purchase agreements, business rates, insurance policies, list of employees, and their contracts, along with your company incorporation documents.

6. Resolve disputes before you put your business up for sale

If you have problems with suppliers, customers, other companies, or employees, you need to document them and, if possible, resolve them before you put the business on the market. Lingering disputes can cost a buyer an unquantifiable amount of money so it’s better to eliminate this risk in advance.

7. Decide who will sell your business

Business brokers (or business transfer agents) can market your business for you, or you could do it on your own. Although brokers reduce the amount of work you have to carry out directly, they will demand a percentage of the sale if they sell on your behalf.

If you choose to use a broker, you need to clarify exactly what role the broker will play in the company sale. You can hand over most of the responsibility to them, or you can get involved in picking and interviewing candidates.

Before selecting a broker, check for details such as extra fees or costs, termination rights, and cooling-off periods. From experience, our CFOs recommend you look for business brokers that have a strong track record in selling companies in your industry, in your markets, and similar size businesses.

8. Get a business valuation

Prospective buyers will want to know the true worth of your company. They need an independent assessment so you should hire a business valuation expert to do this for you.

9. Get expert advice on selling a company

Put together a team of trusted legal and financial advisors, including a CFO, with expertise in selling companies. Get their help to identify areas of the business that need attention and on how best to proceed with a sale. Their knowledge will be invaluable to you as you select a new owner and negotiate a price.

10. Create a confidentiality agreement

You won’t want sensitive details about your company or its sale leaked to employees, competitors, suppliers, creditors, and customers, so make sure prospective buyers sign a confidentiality agreement.

11. Perform Due Diligence

You need a team of specialists to produce a documented business strategy, healthy financials, along with information about your employees, and plant and IT systems.

That information must be made available in a real or virtual data room for prospective buyers to view and check.

An Experienced Part-time CFO Can Help You De-Risk Selling your Business

Would you like a chance to talk to someone who understands exactly how to de-risk your business sale? We’re pretty sure the answer is “yes” so why not book a no-obligation, 60 minute discovery call with one of our superstar CFOs?

Simply give us a call on 0800 169 1499 and let our in-house team know that you’re looking to sell your business. They’ll book in your call and help you get your journey to success underway.

External Funding Options for Your Growing Business

External Funding Options for Your Growing Business

Your Guide to Business Financing

Getting external financing to fund your company’s growth will depend on your plans, how willing you are to give away a stake, and, therefore, control in the business, your eligibility, and the short-term or long-term funding you need.

How to finance your business growth

Bank finance

Banks can offer you:

  • Unsecured business loans. These will have fixed repayments (including interest) over a set time frame. The amount and the interest rates will depend on the bank and your circumstances.
  • Secured business loans. To obtain a business equity loan, you’ll need to offer your company collateral or assets as security (for example, property, inventory, or equipment). The amount you can borrow will depend on the value of the assets.
  • Buy-to-let loans and commercial mortgages. These are suitable if you’re looking to buy or remortgage business premises.
  • These are more suitable for short-term financial support when your company has a cash shortfall.
  • Business credit cards. Again, these are probably best for short-term support.
  • Invoice finance. It will mean you can access cash that is otherwise tied up in outstanding invoices. It’s ideal if your company offers long payment terms to customers or if you need to grab growth opportunities.
  • Asset finance. This allows you to make small regular payments for an asset rather than a large, one-off payment. It is ideal If you want to preserve your working capital and generate income from an asset as you pay for it.

Angel investors and venture capitalists

If you’re willing to offer a share of your company or equity, you could approach third party investors such as angel investors or venture capitalists (VCs).

You might not have to repay their investment, but the share they will want in return is likely to be high.

Alternative investment markets

You could also consider alternative finance options. These include crowdfunding and peer-to-peer funding.

  • Crowdfunding. In return for early access to your products/services, discounts, or an equity stake in your company, you can raise the money you need from a crowd of small investors.
  • Peer-to-peer lending. You can borrow from individual small investors. If your application is successful, you’ll probably be able to borrow more than you would through a bank and access the funds quicker.

The criteria for the loan might not be as stringent as a bank, but the costs might be similar.

Is your company eligible for funding?

Banks and investors often use what’s known as the CAMPARI method to decide if your company is eligible for funding. That is:

  • C This incorporates everything from your professionalism and brand reputation to your company’s record in repaying loans.
  • A This is about you and your team’s knowledge and expertise and how successful you’re likely to be to generate growth from the financing that investors are being asked to provide.
  • M This is about how well your business is equipped to meet your growth plans. Investors will want to see your Return on Equity (ROE), growth projections, your competitive advantage, detailed financial reports, performance record, and a comprehensive expenditure report.
  • P Investors will want to know how you will use the funds and how they will help to boost the company’s financial situation or generate a profit.

For example,  if you have no liquidity in the business but need it to fulfil an order or if you need a type of machinery to be able to increase your product or service range.

  • A This is about showing investors how you came to decide on the level of funding you’re applying for.
  • R Investors need to be convinced you can afford any repayments. They’ll look in particular at your cash flow and profit margins.
  • I This is all about showing investors you have a fallback position if things go wrong. They’ll need to be convinced you have another source of repayment should you need it.

Get expert help

To make it more likely your company is considered eligible for funding, it is advisable to get expert help.

For example, the FD Centre has part-time FDs with experience in approaching banks and major financial institutions, angel investors, VCs, and alternative lending markets for funding on behalf of their clients. Learn what to expect from a part-time FD.

We can help and guide you through every step of the funding preparation and application process.

Find out more.

Use Management Dashboards to Make Fast Data-Driven Decisions

Use Management Dashboards to Make Fast Data-Driven Decisions

The use of management dashboards to monitor management KPIs, metrics and other essential data points will allow you and your management team to make rapid, data-based decisions based on up-to-date information about your business.

A management dashboard provides you with a comprehensive snapshot of the company’s performance. This is critical since it condenses massive amounts of information into a one-page summary that can provide invaluable insight into the health of your company and help with executive decision-making.

It allows you and your managers to access the most relevant information instantly.

The data is represented graphically using tables, line charts, bar charts, sparklines, maps, or gauges so you and other users can see the information at a glance.

They also allow you and other users to drill down to investigate further if necessary.

Types of business dashboards

There are three types of business dashboards:

  • Operational dashboards which emphasise monitoring. These reflect the business processes and help monitor KPIs.
  • Strategic dashboards which emphasise management. They reflect the end status of a KPI or metric for a set period.
  • Tactical dashboards that highlight analysis. They will help you to identify trends and to track how metrics have changed.

Finance dashboard

Your finance dashboard should offer a summary and interpretation of key aspects such as profit and loss, and cash management.

Sales and Marketing dashboard

Your marketing dashboard should provide insight into how successful the company’s marketing efforts are at generating sales and attracting and retaining customers. You should be able to see where people are getting ‘stuck’ in your sales funnel or pipeline.

Risk management dashboard

Your operation and safety dashboard should help you and your team to manage and prevent risk. It could include training and awareness, incident management, claims, compliance, risks for assets and projects, and hazard identification.

HR dashboard

Your HR dashboard should provide reports on internal metrics such as employee satisfaction as well as external metrics such as your company’s success rates for recruitment. Depending on the size of the organisation, it could also be used to track turnover and retention rates.

The benefits of using management dashboards

  • Instant access to core business metrics

Users across your organisation will be able to access core business metrics.

  • Consolidate data from across multiple analytic services

The management dashboard consolidates data from many data points in an organisation to provide one reporting interface. It will save time and effort typically spent on compiling reports, signing into different analytic services and then sharing the data to everyone in the company.

  • Provide real-time updates

Since changes in data or values is reflected in dashboards, you can identify fluctuations in crucial business metrics when they happen rather than having to wait for daily or weekly reports.

  • Align departments

Dashboards can provide metrics that are relevant to each department.

  • Allow root cause analysis

If you spot unusual trends in your summary reports, you can drill down to find their root cause.

  • Communicate and manage strategy

Dashboards can be used as agents to boost organisational change.

How to design the best dashboard

A well-designed dashboard will help improve your company’s productivity and save time, but a badly-designed dashboard will confuse users and challenging to share. It needs to be easy to use and to report the most meaningful data and insights.

That’s why it’s critical that you select the right metrics to display. Avoid the temptation to add as many metrics as you can. If you need to monitor lots of metrics, use dashboard tabs.

Keep the design simple to make it easier for people to read and to digest the information. Avoid using too many colours or fonts or different graphics. Group data in a way that’s relevant and which provides context.

To encourage as broad a range of users as possible, make the dashboard interactive with options to filter and drill down.

Decide the reporting frequency based on the type of dashboard you’re using. For example, structure operational dashboards so they provide daily reports and set up strategic dashboards to give a monthly or quarterly report.

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