Archive: Feb 2015

  1. SouthWestfd Director named as one of UK’s Top 50 advisers

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    Jerry Davison, Managing Director of SouthWestfd, has been named as one Britain’s top 50 business advisers.

    Jerry, who offers business advice to help entrepreneurs, was picked from hundreds of advisers from around the UK for his work with growth businesses and start-ups.

    Jerry who runs, and, said: “It’s all too easy for an early stage business to get distracted and lose sight of what’s important to its founders and what they’re trying to achieve – there’s a strong risk that without good strategic advice you can wake up one day with a business that doesn’t bring you pleasure and you resent. And what’s worse, because you arrived there through a series of a hundred small compromises over several months, you didn’t see it coming.

    “Good advice can help you put simple systems and practices in place to make sure that the business stays on track and does what you wanted it to, and hoped it would.”

    Jerry has over twenty years of experience as a consultant and business adviser and has recently mentored Crowdcube, setting the Exeter-based crowd sourcing firm on a clear path towards future growth

    The awards are run by small business network Enterprise Nation, which asked fledgling businesses to nominate an adviser that had helped them to build and grow a sustainable business.

    The awards, which set out to highlight the work done behind the scenes by experts helping Britain’s army of small businesses to build and grow, revealed a rich vein of dedicated supporters for the UK’s expanding entrepreneurial culture.

    Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation said: “These business advisers are the unsung heroes behind Britain’s booming small business culture.

    “The awards have uncovered some incredible work that has helped fledgling firms take steps towards sustainability and growth by taking a strategic look at their business.

    “Research shows that those firms that take advice do better than those that don’t – and it stands to reason that good advice can help avoid some of the damaging, early mistakes entrepreneurs can make that can often force them to give up.

    “Thanks to the Government’s £30m Growth Voucher initiative, there is now an increasing interest in taking strategic advice to overcome some of these behavioural barriers and unlock growth potential.

    “The awards were designed to show this important work in action, in order to help more start-ups and small firms find out about the benefits of taking advice.”

    The 50 advisers were chosen from hundreds of entries from around the UK, with ten outstanding experts picked out as the top ten.

    Jerry’s top tips for growing a business are:

    • Question everything you’re told
    •  Ask others you know who’ve started up what they wish they’d asked for with hindsight – if you don’t know any, book yourself onto free business networking events (Eventbrite is a good place to find some)
    • Make sure you actually get around to running your business and don’t spend all your time talking about it

    A Government report entitled Growing Your Business, written by Enterprise Adviser Lord Young suggested if Britain’s smallest firms were to take on just one more employee each, it would eradicate unemployment in the UK.

    He said: “The evidence is unequivocal: businesses that seek and engage external help are more likely to grow. But much more needs to be done to encourage firms to invest in their capability.”

    A report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce suggested by 2018 there would be more than five million people working for themselves in this country – exceeding the number working in the public sector for the first time.

    Entries were judged by a distinguished panel including Emma Jones, and representatives from professional bodies including the ICAEW, as well as the Department for Business, Industry and Skills, StartUp Loans and James Layfield, the founder and entrepreneur behind Central Working.

    To see the full list of the Top 50 advisers visit


    Use your Growth Voucher with SouthWestfd and you can benefit from top advice. Not applied for a voucher yet – apply now.

  2. What can be done to help improve the UK’s skills shortage?

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    In 2014, figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed signs that the UK economy was finally in recovery, with the strongest rates of growth reported since 2007. Whilst this is undoubtedly excellent news for UK businesses, there is now a more worrying issue at hand – lack of skills.  Research carried out by the UK Commission for Employment (UKCES) shows as many as 1 in 5 job vacancies are left unfilled due to shortages in skills.

    Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), whose members are “on the front line of the UK labour market” as he puts it, paints an alarming picture.

    “Last year we had nine areas of skills shortages, now we have 43 areas. Every single type of engineering is in short supply, from mechanical to software, civil to electrical,” says Mr Green.

    “In IT, coders, programmers, developers are all in short supply; there’s a shortage of doctors and nurses in the National Health Service; and we need about 20,000 more teachers in the UK.

    “And the situation’s been getting worse month-on-month over the last 18 months,” he adds.


    UKCES found that many businesses were unwilling to take on school and college leavers, although those that did found they were largely well prepared for employment.  Perhaps those looking for their first job should not be so readily dismissed without proper consideration as they may prove to become a good and cost effective resource.  More apprenticeships and ‘earn-as-you-learn’ schemes would also help to tackle the issue, equipping school leavers with the skills that they may currently be lacking.  And with a greater input by employers into the content of these courses, would mean a quicker and more relevant integration into the workplace.

    Although educational institutions must play their part in helping with the crisis by providing better careers advice, businesses can also help employees who lack certain skills by providing regular access to training.

    As things stand, the future looks uncertain and if the skills shortage crisis gets any worse, the recent growth of the UK economy could suffer. It is essential that the government works with educational institutes and employers to ensure future generations can go into the job market equipped with all the skills necessary for the UK economy to continue to grow.

    Source: Skills shortages holding back the UK’s economic recovery, BBC News December 2014, UKCES and ONS.

  3. Can’t get a business loan? Here’s some alternatives.

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    Do you operate a small business, and have you ever tried securing a bank loan to grow? If so, you will relate with some of the issues small business owners can face when approaching banks.

    With the number of hoops you’re expected to jump through, it’s little wonder that businesses are looking at alternative financing mechanisms. Some seek financial security through small business loans via other businesses; whilst others, especially start-ups, look at peddling their wares via crowd-funding solutions such as Crowdcube.

    Does bank finance just appear hard to achieve?

    Some things in life appear harder than they are. Securing a loan from a bank isn’t one of them. The Bank of England’s Trends for Lending (October 2014) report highlighted this. Lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) continued its negative trend over the last several quarters, identifying one of the significant reasons being larger businesses had access to more lending facilities.

    It’s not just the Bank of England who has observed the lack of lending. The Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Credit Condition Survey (October 2014) found half of small business owners thought credit availability was ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ and that credit was unaffordable.

    In fact, the Small Finance Monitor found 78% of the 5,000 businesses they interviewed hadn’t sought external borrowing.   The SME sector is seeing growth, despite big banks’ reluctance or reticence to lend to them. Over half of SMEs interviewed by the Small Finance Monitor are planning on 2015 expansion, and 14% are also seeking to borrow finance.

    There are many alternative to bank lending

    It’s not just banks where you can find potential to find funds, there are many alternative lenders such as independent providers of business finance solutions such as, peer to peer funding schemes or look at seeking a grant rather than a loan with companies such as having access to a huge variety of available government back funding schemes.

    Do your homework

    Before speaking to any provider, remember it’s not all about numbers. Can you secure character references or provide case-studies to the bank? Have you had a strong credit rating? Even your personal appearance and attitude can make a huge difference!

    Make sure your accounts are up to date. Could an auditor distinguish your capital from your cash flow? Banks will want to see clear accounting, identifying any assets they can count as collateral. And what are the numbers on your business plan based on? Preparation is the key to a successful application.

    Could an external organisation, such as SouthWestfd, help you tidy your accounts; do your homework; or help you prepare for the questions the banks lenders will ask you?  Yes, we can, so if you are going down any of the lending routes, give us a call to find out how to get your business financials into tip top shape.


  4. New advisors on Enterpise Nation Marketplace Growth Voucher Scheme

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    SouthWestfd are delighted to have been accepted as advisors on the Enterprise Nation Marketplace and Growth Vouchers Scheme.

    What is the scheme about?

    The Enterprise Nation Marketplace is part of the government’s £30m Growth Vouchers programme, recently launched. The programme is a research project to test how best to help small businesses grow through the use of subsidised business advice.

    How do I apply?

    Businesses looking for advice can apply to the programme online and they will be randomly assigned to an online questionnaire or face-to-face business advice assessment.

    Some businesses will be randomly chosen to get a voucher for up to £2,000 to help pay for business support in one of the specialist areas. You’ll have to match the amount with your own funds.

    What can I use the vouchers for?

    Growth Vouchers should be used for strategic advice, so the activities funded by the scheme should result in securing long-term change in the business, its operations and its capabilities.

    Once you have your voucher please contact us to discuss how we help move your business forward.

    Here’s some examples of how we can help your business:

    • A financial healthcheck – consultancy to review the financial health of your business and developing a strategy for growth
    • Financial planning, creditworthiness and investment-readiness
    • Cashflow and credit management
    • Basic business planning for debt finance
    • Enhanced business planning and evaluation for equity finance
    • Strategic management accounting

    Download the Enterprise Nation Marketplace information sheet to give you more details of the scheme and how to apply.