Why business planning is the key to unlocking funding for scale ups

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When an ambitious business is making the move from self-funding to seeking outside capital, the headlines tend to be all about the money: How much? Who from? What’s the valuation?

But the reality for both business and funder is that the real focus will be on how that new money will be used to accelerate growth. No matter how much a potential investor likes you and your company, they won’t invest until they can clearly see how you will spend their funds to achieve the plans you lay out to them.

From growing pains to growth plans

So, for the scale-up seeking external investment for the first time: what’s on their mind? The answer is probably an awful lot.  Without the cash to employ senior staff, the founder is probably combining some or all of the following roles: CEO, sales and marketing director, financial director, tech expert and client relationship chief. Not to mention shop floor worker, loving partner and possibly parent!

As well as hitting the buffers in terms of time, cashflow is likely to also be limiting options, so external funding will be needed to unblock this impasse. The Catch 22, however, is that any potential investor is going to want a business owner to have spent a lot of time thinking through what the future looks like and how they are going to get there. Yet with owner managers struggling to do any more than keep the business going day to day, time is in short supply.

This is where we can help by sitting down with you to understand not only how your business is functioning today, but how you see it in the future and how it will get there. As these conversations progress, supported by our experience of many businesses in a similar position, that vision starts to take shape. It will soon become clear what you need to scale up across the key pillars of people, processes and technology. By plotting what resources you will need to grow, a clear plan of how to get from A to B will emerge.

The right funder for your business

At this stage, our experience helping similar scale-ups means we will be thinking carefully about the best type of funder to approach. It’s not just about the money. Of course, finding an investor willing to write that cheque is vital, but so is finding one with the knowledge, contacts and culture to help you grow and navigate your specific challenges.

Just to clarify, for nearly all scale-ups, equity funding will be the best and probably only option. That means the founder or owner manager will not only be choosing a potential funder but engaging with a future partner fully motivated to not just ‘get their money back’, but help the business grow.

Pulling your plans together

Of all the elements you’ll need to show your potential investor, the most important is the business plan. It will include at the very least: sales strategy and channels, barriers to market and how you overcome them, competitor landscape, business model, operations and tech set up, management team, vision and mission statement. Getting this right will mean you taking time out of your business to really think it through then get the data and other evidence needed to back it up. Our experience can focus you on what a potential funder will be looking for and help you produce everything they need, at the heart of which is the business plan. But we understand that it’s not only for your investors: it’s your plan to grow your business and you have to have every confidence in it and its ability to be delivered. This means that when you get into the room with a potential investor you are telling your story with passion and conviction.

So, by helping you provide the potential investor with all the evidence and comfort they need to risk their money in your business, you get the cheque you need to unlock your potential.

The start of the journey, not the end

You’ll find most blogs about this subject stop here. But we don’t. Because we know that, for most scale-ups, it is immediately after receiving funding when you need us most. Until now, you’ve done everything pretty much on your own. It’s been hard work, but you were in control of it all. Now you’ve got the money, it’s very likely that you need just as much support in delivering the plan as you did with designing it in the first place.

We can share our experience to help you maintain the culture that made you successful, while scaling up for much bigger and better things. There will be many other ‘steps into the unknown’ and we can be there to help make sure they land on solid ground. Your investor will also be a key feature of your business and will be keen to help you deploy the money wisely. But it remains about you, your business and your future – and we will be there to help you navigate the next stage on the journey of grow, fund and exit.

If you want to discuss how we can build with you a programme of support through our Grow services or get you ready for your scaleup funding get in touch. We would be delighted to discuss how we can help you.