Sean heads up our corporate finance department and makes the following suggestions to increase the chances of obtaining the required funding:
1. A robust business plan including financial projections, SWOT analysis, worst and best case scenarios is a must, as is detailed background to the business if being presented to a funder unfamiliar with the business. It is also vital that the business owner understands the assumptions made in preparing the projections as there is nothing worse than being unable to answer questions about the plan in a bank interview. Market research will be needed if the funding is to help with an expansion into new markets. If the application is for new equipment or alterations to premises then detailed quotes should be obtained from suppliers.
2. Any lender will be keen to know that the management are on the ball with regards to the business finances and that regular, accurate, timely management accounts are produced. Variances from the budget should be monitored and investigated, particularly if the funder is to receive management accounts as part of the terms and conditions of the lend.
3. With lenders less willing to take a risk these days, demonstrating that the management has the necessary skills and experience to carry a project through is more vital than ever. Inexperienced property developers for example are unlikely to obtain funding from a high street bank presently.
4. Having an ongoing relationship with a bank manager that understands your business means you’re already past the first hurdle when asking for funding. If your bank no longer allocates a specific relationship manager to look after your account then you should seriously consider moving to one that does if you plan to ask for finance in the foreseeable future.
5. Asking for the appropriate type and amount of funding is also crucial as you do not want to have to start the process again a few months down the line. Again, having detailed financial cash forecasts should help with this, as will obtaining advice from your financial advisers.
6. Obtaining grant funding will reduce the amount of borrowing needed, although grants are few and far between these days. The Regional Growth Fund may be an option for larger projects locally whilst most of the smaller grants tend to be focussed around creating employment for apprentices or unemployed people.
7. Finally, always ensure funding applications are made well before the cash is needed. If you leave it too late then at best you may miss the boat, at worst your business could run out of cash. Any potential funder will be suspicious of a business owner that leaves a request for funding until the last minute.
360 has a good working relationship with many of the high street banks and specialist lenders and can help you identify the most appropriate source and type of funding. There may also be grant funding available for certain projects.