Richard Bearman is the Managing Director of Start Up Loans, a government-backed programme that launched in 2012 to provide loans to new and early-stage businesses throughout the UK who may have struggled to access finance (up to £25k) elsewhere. As we look ahead to the New Year, Richard suggests now is the time for small business owners to consider expansion and prepare their finances for the future.
I have always found January a month of optimism in the small business landscape, as business owners finish reflecting on the year that has been and start to look forward to what is yet to come.
2021 was no doubt another challenging year for UK start-ups, and yet at Start Up Loans we saw over nine thousand successful applications over the course of the last financial year. Our recently announced Start Up Loans Ambassadors, drawn from every region and nation of the UK, exemplify UK business’ entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity over the last year.
I believe 2022 deserves an optimistic look forward. No doubt the smaller business community will face their share of challenges, and we are by no means out of the woods of this pandemic yet. However, I am confident many businesses are now in a place of strength from which they can scale up and expand. Having seen the ups and downs of the past years and weathered those storms, the nation’s business owners can use the agility, resourcefulness and optimism they’ve learnt to push their businesses into the next phase.
Essential to expansion, however, is careful financial planning. While many businesses start up by self-financing or using money from family and friends, growing efficiently and effectively often requires additional funding. Our fixed interest Start Up Loans are the perfect option for such ventures, not just being for businesses that are new and ‘starting up’, but also for businesses in the early stages looking to expand.
The tailored mentoring, support packages and guidance available to Start Up Loans recipients can also help them develop a strong business plan ‘ a crucial element to expansion. Planning for scalability early on in your business journey and formulating a plan is wise. Investors especially will expect to see evidence that you understand how future growth will be achieved if you decide to seek funding.
This brings me to the second key aspect of expansion ‘ clear goals and objectives. I am a strong believer that purpose is everything for a business, and that a clear mission, supported by strategic aims and objectives, gives you a better chance of success. I urge you to use this January to look hard at your business and think where you want it to be in three, or five, years’ time ‘ will you launch an e-commerce site? Will you hire a bigger team? Expand your product range?
By setting manageable goals with clear steps this January, and reviewing your financial plans for the year, you stand a better chance of making 2022 the year that your business thrives, not just survives.
For more detailed guidance from our Start Up Loans experts on expansion, visit our website for free and easy-to-follow support and advice.