As part of our ongoing series of special weekly features, we asked our panel the question;
“What Advice Would you Give to Businesses Looking to Raise Investment”
If you are looking to raise investment yourself, Business Wales provides a ‘Finance Locator‘ to help.
Our panel's thoughts can be found below, but if you would like to contribute to this feature, or any of our future features, please contact [email protected]
Karen Thomas | Head of Corporate Banking
If you are looking to explore the financial options available to your business and apply for a loan, starting with a good understanding of what banks seek from a successful applicant is essential.
A focused management team
The quality of your management team is a key asset for your business and demonstrating their abilities makes a strong addition to your application.
Keep accurate financial records, demonstrating your ability to repay and service debt.
A well thought-out business plan
Being able to clearly articulate your plans will assist the bank to see how a new opportunity would fit with your business structure and current operations.
Realistic business forecasting
As well historic and recent performance, your business plan should also include projections for the future and ‘what if’ analysis.
Be realistic in what you ask for
Any venture or investment based on borrowing needs a 10-20% contingency fund, so consider securing more funds to avoid unnecessary cash flow complications at a later stage.
Believe in your ideas and the deal you are proposing – ask yourself if you are willing to put your own money on the line to support the loan, in the form of equity or security.
Beth Bannister | Growth Finance Services Delivery Manager
My first pointer to consider is to ensure that the business administration is in order as there are important records to prepare before considering any approach for funding. If you are trading, management accounts from the last twelve months is a good start. This is an important tool for your management team and provides the funder with an accurate view on your company’s financial position. Investors will also seek financial forecasts (3-5 years) in order to understand and quantify your growth ambitions. Some funders may ask for further financial information such as qualifying the cash position or getting to understand key ratios, which is an essential source of intelligence. Another top tip is to quantify your pipeline, identify routes to market and recognise target customers. This is vital in illustrating an understanding of the market opportunity and competitive advantage. Likewise, processes and systems should demonstrate they are scalable to support growth.
My two tips for success:
- Finance providers receive hundreds of proposals every month and decide quickly whether to spend more time on a proposition. So having professional documentation is essential to making your business stand out for the right reasons.
- And building a funding strategy will help you to understand which funder to approach, and what to say to them.
James Thomas | Co-Founder
To build relationships with potential investors there’s no better advice than simply network. Never underestimate the power of connections and try your utmost to make the best impression first time.
Post- introductions, you’ll need to effectively communicate your business proposition with a perfected elevator pitch. Remember, most investors are not investing solely in your idea, regardless of how brilliant it is. They will be interested in understanding your ability to create and execute a business plan and most importantly, how you’ll be spending their money – ensure you consider all of the little details.
However, prior to any agreements or accepting any money, you should consider the role you would expect any investor to play and understand what they are able to bring to the table outside of monetary value. I’d recommend being clear about what level of input the investor will have, whether that’s within quarterly board meetings or on a day-to-day basis.
James Williams | Partner with Blake Morgan
You really do need to be clear on what you need to finance as this will impact on the types of finance you may wish to explore – for example, consider factors such as how secure or risky is the financing proposition, what type of relationship are you looking for from a funder (more than just cash?), is finance required over the long or short term?
Make sure that you are organised and prepared. A robust business plan with relevant financial information, forecasts and a clear strategy is essential but bear in mind that investors also invest in a company, its products and most importantly its people. Get the right advice from advisors who can get you investment ready, manage the process and negotiate the terms. They can also make warm introductions to funders, which can certainly help.
There are many different types of investors, funding and sources. Given the wide range of options available: debt, equity, crowd funding, business angels, venture capital, bank and asset based lenders and private equity to name but a few, it is important to get the right advice since you may not be aware of what is available and most suitable for your type of business. You have a business to run so don't waste your time looking for the wrong kind of finance!
Investment Executive | Development Bank of Wales
From starting a business to growing a business, securing the right funding is critical to achieving business success.
People buy from people so if you’re looking to raise investment then your number one priority should be your people. While a strong business plan is a must, investors will definitely want to see your passion and enthusiasm, as these are the essential ingredients for business success.
When speaking to an investor like the Development Bank of Wales to raise capital, it’s not just about convincing us that your product or service is going to capture a meaningful share of a large and growing market. It’s about showing us that you and your management team have the qualities necessary to make that growth happen, and also to be able to withstand the inevitable challenges along the way.
So, what do we look for when considering an investment? Market demand is obviously a key factor and your business plan must demonstrate that there is real opportunity to develop a market so that you can grow your business. We’re looking for opportunities that can start-up and scale-up!
Communicate (and communicate…)
Good communication between parties is also important. Poor or slow communication doesn’t bode well; it’s important to show investors what you can offer and demonstrate hard evidence that supports your business plan.
Get the numbers right
Gathering and presenting all the necessary paperwork in a timely manner should be obvious, as should the need for robust financial forecasts. Make sure you have a clearly defined proposition explaining your business strategy and the potential for growth. A well-written business plan won’t guarantee you investment but no plan could well result in an application for funding being turned down. There is plenty of advice available if you need help; organisations like Business Wales offer a great support service.
Speak to us
The amount of paperwork you’ll need to complete depends on the size of the investment. We’ve spent a lot of time simplifying our investment processes to ensure that our application procedures are simple and straightforward. However, don’t underestimate the time and effort required to raise finance.
We have a small loan, fast track application process and an online eligibility tool https://developmentbank.wales/
Finally, be clear on your objectives. Investment is a two-way deal. You need to make sure that you are getting what you need from an investor. This may not just be about the money. Support to facilitate growth; proven industry experience, advocacy and connections may well be just as important as the actual funding. Get it right and you won’t look back.
Peter Lynn and Partners
Peter Lynn | Partner and Head of the Company & Commercial Law team
When looking to grow a business, there are many considerations. You may need bigger premises, more staff and maybe new owners to join. You may need more cash. Your customer base needs to grow and maybe bigger suppliers need to be identified. You may be thinking of merging or undertaking a joint venture?
Knowing how to prepare your company and how to develop a strategy for sustainable development are the basic requirements for a growth phase.
Engaging an experienced company and commercial law firm early on will enable expert advice relating to:
- Liabilities over your existing property or a new one.
- Updating employee contracts and policies as well as any insurance increases.
- Drafting and agreeing partnership or shareholder agreements with any new business partners
- The risks and security involved when seeking finance to fund the growth phase.
- Updating T&Cs or bespoke contract terms with suppliers and customers to protect the business
Peter Lynn, Partner and Head of the Company & Commercial Law team commented
“Without a clear plan, your growth phase could not only stall before it begins but you could damage your business. Identifying and preventing legal problems early on combined with proper planning can put your company in a prime position for growth”.
What can we do to help?
Our specialists are on hand to advise you on a wide range of matters including:
- Company Sales, Mergers & Acquisitions
- Shareholder & Partnership Agreements
- Commercial Property Sale & Acquisition
- Management Buy Outs
- HR & Employment Law
- Finance Agreements
- Succession Planning
- Contracts and T&Cs
- Regulatory Advice
- Debt Collection
If you want to develop a structured growth plan, contact our commercial team on 01792 450010 / 02920 600799 or email [email protected] for free initial advice.
Hugh James Law
Gerallt Jones | Partner and Head of Corporate and Commercial
Be prepared! There are several key steps a business can take to ensure raising funds is a smooth process, be it debt or equity investment. First, work out what you want, both in terms of funds and also what you are looking for in an investor, such as sector expertise or access to a network of valuable contacts. Secondly, get your paperwork in order. This sounds obvious but many businesses underestimate the importance of having a robust business plan and sound financial forecasts when approaching investors. An investor will want to see credible plans for the business which will help them achieve their ultimate objective of a return on their investment. Thirdly, consider tax incentives, such as SEIS and EIS which offer attractive tax breaks to investors. Finally, hire professional advisers: having good legal and accounting advice can ease the process considerably.