Four ways to speed up access to finance for SMEs

In this guest post, Growth Street CEO Greg Carter looks at sources of alternative funding for SMEs. A must-read for any business owner seeking funding.

Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy. Indeed, the FSB has said that SMEs could make up as much as 99.9 per cent of the private sector.

SMEs are strong drivers of British economic growth and employment. However, poor cash flow – whether down to late payments from customers, supply chain pressures, or access to capital – is often cited as a stumbling block for SMEs.

Accessing funds quickly can be crucial for a business’s survival. But a recent Growth Street survey of more than 1,000 UK businesses found that 70% of respondents had never gone anywhere other than their bank for funding.

Banks are known to have restricted SMEs’ access to finance products like overdrafts in recent years. But even so, a majority of respondents to Growth Street’s survey haven’t looked elsewhere for funding.

To make matters worse, the SMEs that do manage to find loans through banks often find the terms inflexible and expensive. So how can business owners find out about other channels for funding?

Here, we list just a few ways for SMEs to go beyond the banks in seeking finance.

Growth Street Founder, Greg CarterGrowth Street Founder, Greg Carter

Peer-to-peer platforms

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks operate platforms that match investors’ capital with individuals and businesses. There are a growing number of P2P lenders specialising in business finance – including Growth Street!

One of the main pulls of these platforms is that they can offer loans to borrowers more quickly than traditional banks. And the facilities on offer can be similar to the conventional bank overdraft, too: Once a facility limit has been approved, Growth Street’s GrowthLine allows businesses to draw down funds and make repayments as often as they like within their limits.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding allows a business to raise money from a large number of people, in order to launch products or secure funding for growth in exchange for an equity stake.

People often invest through crowdfunding by giving to businesses that they believe in on a personal level. Usually in P2P lending, borrowers and investors are anonymously connected, but crowdfunding can rely on personal connections and networks to build a groundswell of interest in a business, product or service.

Angel / seed / venture investment

Angel investors specialise in providing finance to early-stage businesses. They are commonly individuals, although there are firms which specialise in early-stage funding too. As businesses get bigger and begin to scale, institutional funding from seed or venture capital firms can help to accelerate growth.

Regional funding and grants

There is a significant number of regional funding options that can be available to SMEs. A good option could be to speak to your local Chamber of Commerce, as they often have existing connections with finance providers.

A national example of this is the British Business Bank, which is a development bank set up by the government. Its purpose is to increase the supply of credit to startups and SMEs, while also providing advice and support about running a business.

Although banks are still a vital part of the financial landscape, we continue to urge SMEs to look beyond their traditional bank. Our survey shows there is a lot for alternative finance providers still to do: SMEs shouldn’t have to struggle due to a lack of access to capital.

Greg Carter, CEO, Growth Street

(Head to our site to learn more about Growth Street and our GrowthLine product!)

Growth Street Exchange Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 739318). Growth Street Exchange Limited is registered in England & Wales (company number 09495712) and our registered office is 5 Young Street, London W8 5EH.

Tips For Web Design Students

Tips for choosing a website hosting provider

“It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.”

Paula Scher

Good website design is crucial to the success of businesses in the modern era.

Becoming good at website design isn’t easy, however, and even the experts we have here at Ri Web will tell you that they’re still learning.

Starting out as an amateur can be difficult; there is so much to learn. Also, the trends and theory behind good website design is constantly changing as we discover more about how people actually use websites.

To help out any aspiring website designers we thought we would create a little list of tips.

Practise on friends

There are some things textbooks and tutors just can’t teach you.

There’s nothing like ‘on the job’ experience to really catalyse your learning.

You might struggle to get paid assignments before you’ve built up a portfolio, so you’re going to have to work for very little or free to begin with.

This will allow you to build up a log of work to show to potential clients, who will pay you based on the strength of your prior work.

You don’t need to tout your services across the internet, think of friends who would benefit from your skills. Maybe the ones who want to or are starting a business or are looking to promote something – you might get a few drinks in return!

Get A Mentor

Your Mum, Dad and pet cat might think you’re the best website designer in the world but they would still think that if you were producing absolute rubbish.

To improve you need to source and take constructive criticism from people who understand what it takes to succeed.

Find a mentor, who can help you with this.

It might start as them simply checking out your work quickly in return for a drink or two, but it could blossom into a fruitful relationship.

They might even pass you down the work that’s too small for them!

Get Hands-On Support

Another way you can get support is online. There are so many different websites you can visit that provide great support for students of loads of different subjects. One of these is custom writing service PapersOwl, if you go on there you can detail to them exactly what you are struggling, whether it’s an essay or a design. They will assign you a partner that will be able to help you out with your work and steer your work in a positive direction. You will pay them a small fee, but it’s nothing in exchange for having an amazing piece of work you can call your own.

Web design is such an integral part of so many different aspects of cultural, social and economic-based companies and businesses. If you are training to be a web designer you’ve definitely made the right decision. The point is that you need to capitalise on the opportunities that you have, reach out to people that are going to help you improve your brand and your style, and look for support where you can get it.