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Why Your Fear Of Seeking Funding Might Be Your Biggest Impediment To Growth

Are you so wary of debt that you won’t look for external funding to grow your company? Do you still consider the banks to be the only real source of funding?

A ‘yes’ answer to one or both of those questions is a sign that you could be hampering your company’s future growth prospects. (If you’d like to find out more about your strategic funding options, download a free report now by clicking here.)

If you are hindering your company’s growth, you’re certainly not alone. Research conducted earlier this year revealed that 78% of the 500 UK businesses surveyed by specialist mutual financial services provider Wesleyan Bank were too wary of incurring debt to seek external funding.

About three-quarters of those surveyed said they had a better understanding of traditional funding options such as bank loans and overdrafts than they did of alternative funding options such as asset finance. A national SME alternative finance survey commissioned by Nesta and the University of Cambridge found that only 9% of respondents had approached an alternative finance provider.

The so-called alternative funding market is growing rapidly, and in the UK alone has more than doubled in size year on year from £267 million in 2012 to £666 million in 2013 to £1.74 billion in 2014, according to the ‘UK Alternative Finance Industry Report’.

Sean Read, Director of Sales & Marketing at Wesleyan Bank says, “Without external finance, many SMEs are stilting their chances of prospering and fulfilling their ultimate potential.”

That’s because funding—whether through debt or equity— is often the catalyst for taking your business to the next level. Without it, you’re likely to stay where you are now or worse, stagnate.

Nowadays, there are many options for both equity and debt financing to consider. There is also the option to combine both debt and equity in a funding mix to provide the capital base for long term growth and the working capital to support working capital requirements in the business.

While there’s a vast array of options available—including some that can provide funds within days—figuring out how to access these funds can be a very time-consuming, frustrating experience, even for the most seasoned business owner.

Worryingly, the Wesleyan Bank research revealed that many SME owners turn to the internet for advice about funding options rather than speaking directly to banks or independent funding experts. While the internet does provide some accurate information, it is just as likely to offer information that at best is outdated and, at worst, wildly off-the-mark. Following such unqualified advice is likely to be disastrous for your company.

After all, raising funds is critical to your company’s future growth. As such, it should only be managed by those with substantial experience and knowledge of the strategic funding market.

Typically, that person will be an FD or CFO. And there’s the rub, for as an SME, you probably don’t have a full-time CFO with the necessary experience in fundraising to manage the process for you. So what can you do?

You can hire a very experienced part-time CFO to manage the entire process for you. He or she will manage everything from determining your immediate and long-term objectives to finding the right kind of funding partner for the business. You can watch a 3-minute video here which explains the part-time FD/CFO model.

At the CFO Centre, our CFOs have sourced more funding (over £5 billion) for our clients than just about any other company around the world. We will provide you with a world-class CFO with ‘big business experience’ to manage your strategic funding process for you and we’ll do it at a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO. It’s the business equivalent of having an Olympic coach to help your business thrive.

To find out more about your funding options, just book your free one-to-one call with one of our strategic funding specialists—just click here now.

How to Seduce Your Bank Manager

Given that the bankers are often ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most hated professions, the prospect of seducing your bank manager is probably not high on your bucket list.

It’s fair to say that you’ve probably never thought about doing it. But if you want your company to grow then it’s something you not only need to think about but act on.

Unfortunately, seduction, in this case, will rely almost entirely on the allure of your company’s numbers rather than your ability to deliver snappy one-liners, a bunch of hothouse flowers or the promise of a candle-lit dinner. That’s because the average bank manager is a risk-averse creature who will demand far more from you than the average romantic date!

And it will be down to you to do the running—because if you need to fund your working capital or if you’re looking to fund investment in the business and to grab an opportunity, you’re likely to need external funding.

In other words, you need your bank manager far more than he or she needs you. That’s because access to finance will be a key determinant in your company’s growth and if you’re like the vast majority of SMEs, you’ll approach traditional banks for funding (in the form of an overdraft or loan) before looking at other funding options. So you’ve got to be at your persuasive, most charming best.

And it will take preparation—masses of it. Think weeks, even months of preparation.

That new finance might be for working capital/cash flow or capital expenditure such as investing in new machinery or property or improving existing buildings. Or you might need it to enter new markets, develop new products/service or even to refinance the business.

Whatever your reasons for seeking external finance, if you’re going to approach a bank, you need to know the best ways to win over your bank manager. You also need to know what approach is going to trigger an immediate slap-down (an outright ‘No’) or the offer of a substantially smaller amount than you’ve requested. To download our full report on how to get the best out of the relationship with your bank manager click here

Why do bank managers rebuff applications?

Banks won’t always provide you with the reasons they’ve turned down your loan or overdraft application. But here are some of the reasons they’ve offered companies in the past few years:

  • The company is experiencing declining sales/profitability
  • The company is over-leveraged
  • The bank has changed its lending policy. A new feature of the new ‘normal’ financial environment means there’s been a reduction in the availability of longer-term debt (for loans with terms stretching over five years), according to the CBI.
  • The company has insufficient security
  • The company has no experience in the new product/service or market
  • The bank considers the company’s business sector or trading environment too risky
  • The bank is not prepared to lend the full amount
  • The company has a weak balance sheet.

How to boost your chances of a ‘Yes’ response

So how do you get your risk-averse bank manager to happily rubber-stamp your loan or overdraft application?

Be prepared

Your bank manager is likely to demand you provide fully audited accounts, financial cash-flow projections, security information and guarantees and full business plan details. You might also be asked to provide evidence from order books.

Companies who’ve gone through the application process in the post-recession years have noticed that it’s become a lot more stringent. They found there was a higher level of due diligence, sales and market reporting, security and guarantees and that the process took longer than was expected. This was particularly the case when they approached banks with which they’d had no previous dealings.

Improve your credit rating

As well as having all the required paperwork in place, managing and making efforts to improve your company’s credit rating will help your chances of getting a ‘Yes’ response from your bank manager.

That means making payments on time, maintaining regular contact with creditors and banks and ensuring you offer maximum financial transparency.

Enhance your internal resources

Hire an experienced Chief Financial Officer who has experience with accessing various forms of bank debt finance and can put together, for now, the business plans and financial projections the bank will want to see. Here’s the thing: you can now hire a part-time highly experienced Chief Financial Officer for less than you’d pay a full-time junior staff member. You can find out more here

 

Conclusion

Seducing your bank manager is going to take time and lots of effort but if you’re successful, it will provide your company with the financial fuel it needs to grow and reach its full potential. 

 

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