Where to find business advice

Business Insights

Entrepreneurs and small businesses had a difficult year, to say the least. Whether your operations are direct to consumer or you provide goods or services to other businesses, times have been tough and few have been unscathed. Even success stories have seen a lot of hard work.

While challenges are likely to continue for some time, there’s also a lot of opportunity around. But having an idea of where you want to go and knowing how to get there is not the same thing. Besides, finding those opportunities right now is difficult when we couldn’t even plan our Christmases up to the last minute. Remember that you're not alone. There are lots of places you can go to for advice: accessing support is much easier than you may think.

You might have built your business single handedly, but asking for advice doesn't change that. The government website has a list of support networks, schemes and Growth Hubs you can think about. Take your time going through the options as there’s a huge variety.

Not-for-profit movement, Be the Business, helps SMEs improve their performance. It connects entrepreneurs and CEOs with experienced executives and advisors. They offer tools and resources to help businesses’ productivity and during COVID-19 they broadened the platform to help even more entrepreneurs. Businesses can have their strategies evaluated and receive tailored advice.

If you’re lacking digital skills, or are trying to reach the next level, Tech Nation is there with access to free online courses and programmes. And if you want to have your ideas supercharged then Innovate UK can help with funding and research collaboration. Whatever you’re unsure about, there’s someone out there who can help.

If your issue is financial, then generally speaking there are two ways of getting round it. Either consider investment, if you’re prepared to lose some equity, or go to lenders for debt. There are pros and cons of both, so it needs to be the right choice for your business, but as they say, cash is king. Good cash flow will help you grow.

You’ve no doubt heard of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme by now. You can apply for £50,001 to £5 million with the government covering fees and interest for the first 12 months. At MarketFinance we offer loans and facilities backed by your invoices through the scheme.

There are of course plenty of other banks and other solutions, from overdrafts to asset finance and there really is no one-size fits all. The best thing you can do is talk to the people who work at these lenders and banks, and figure out what options suit you best. So much comparison is done online nowadays, but sometimes a phone call with someone who has seen it all before and understands the offering in depth can solve a problem faster.

Financial advisors are more than just banks. Our recent research shows that accountants are an SME’s most valued advisor. Along with banks and brokers, they’ve watched SMEs of all kinds succeed and fail, and have learnt lessons with them. Reach out because it’s their business to know about all the resources and schemes available right now.

In December we launched our first Business Booster Fund at MarketFinance. We’re making £5,000 grants available to dynamic small businesses to give them a kick start into the new year. But it had to be about more than just money. We’ve been lending to SMEs for almost a decade and have seen what it takes to propel a business forward. Cash is king, but sometimes you can get stuck and strategic advice is what you need to take the business further.

So, we’ve also offered the time from the top people at MarketFinance to help advise the winning businesses in areas of their business where they’d like a little help. Applications have closed but we’re in the difficult process of putting together a shortlist. Stay tuned for the winners.

Advice is out there if you need it. Reach out and find support networks and schemes that can help your business. Right now you’ve got to use everything in your toolbox. Talking to your financial advisors like accountants is an easy way to discover new opportunities as they have a wealth of knowledge from their careers to help you out. And above all else, make sure you’ve got the cash flow to see these plans through.

For more information on the facilities we offer at MarketFinance, head to marketfinance.com.