Running a business can be stressful and demanding. Particularly during the earlier stages, it can feel lonely at the top. You might find yourself:
- Struggling to evaluate and make key decisions, sometimes making no decision at all.
- Regretting your decision to not take an opportunity because you feared the unknown.
- Concerned that you do not have the data to evaluate the financial impact of growth.
- Not understanding the true funding needed.
- Struggling to find the team to help you achieve your plans.
But an experienced EFM Growth advisor can help – a professional, who has been in your situation. They can offer support and be a sounding board. Speaking to one can take the weight off your shoulders, and you can use their experience to drive your growth. Starting from as little as £250 per month, you get to have an experienced growth advisor at your side, every step of the way.
A business entering a growth phase has plenty to consider. Here are some of the things you will need to think about:
Develop a viable business model and plan
The starting point for any business venture looking to grow is a viable business model and plan. While some start-ups don’t develop one until they look for funding, it is a key step in the evaluation process and can avoid you wasting time trying to execute a non-viable business opportunity.
A business plan should include a one-page executive summary that states what the opportunity is, how much it needs and the potential rewards. You should prepare a pitch deck of around 10-15 slides which include the following key elements:
- Delivery (including financials)
Once completed, it is crucial to review the pitch deck with colleagues and friends. They will be able to offer feedback and tell you whether it makes sense. It is also important to include some initial market review and/or testing. Ideally, there would be a minimum viable product (MVP), but this may come later.
Your full business plan should be no more than thirty-five pages long. It needs to include a three-year integrated financial model, including profit and loss, cash flow, and balance sheet. This should back up the pitch deck for any potential funder.
In summary, it is key that you get your plan reviewed externally to ensure it makes sense and demonstrates there is a market. This initial plan is critical in not only bringing on investors but also in preventing you from wasting your time on a non-viable business opportunity.
Building and testing the MVP
MVPs are particularly useful for those in the technology start-up space. An MVP allows you to assess whether your product is something customers want. They favour lean production and offer significant cost savings, but only if they are done right. An MVP needs to:
- Offer a real solution to your customer’s problem, so it is able to generate sales.
- Have enough core features to make it viable.
- Allow you to gather feedback so you can continue to learn and improve your product.
- Not be over-engineered which will both increase costs and delay market testing.
Remember, an MVP is only the start, and the feedback will be invaluable in developing your product further and achieving growth. Think of it as a win-win solution. It should offer your business a significant cost-saving, most businesses over-engineer the initial product and allow you to develop a superior and competitive product based on customer feedback. Meanwhile, your early adopters get a solution to their problem and the opportunity to share what it is they really want from your product.
Developing adequate systems and processes
Systems and processes are fundamental to allowing a business to run at an optimal level. They improve efficiency, and free you up to push your business forward and work on its growth. You should have a system in place for each area of your business. This can include:
These systems should state who is going to do what, as well as how and when they are going to do it. People or technology can conduct systems. How you record the details, and the level of detail required can vary, but you may want to include text, images, or even videos.
Once you have tackled your systems, you can move on to documenting the processes within your business. You should record the most efficient workflow and review the processes regularly to see if you can make any improvements or necessary adjustments.
Once in place, systems and processes allow your people to run the business effectively, freeing up the time you need to focus on growth. They also make your business a much more attractive proposition should you wish to sell in the future.
How to raise equity and grant funding
Having both a business plan and systems and processes in place will support you in raising equity or grant funding. You will need a strategy and business plan in place to present the opportunity to potential investors and funders. They want to know they will get a return on their investment.
Raising equity and applying for grant funding can be time-consuming procedures, but with the right systems and processes in place, you can free up the time you need to spend on them.
When applying for finance, you will require various documents in place, such as:
- Pitch deck
- Business plan
- Financial budgets
With grant funding, you will also be required to complete an application and will need to consider the right partners.
Grants and some forms of equity funding can be highly competitive and, therefore, it will be crucial for your application to display the potential you offer. Raising these finances can often take much longer than business owners initially estimate. It is also important to note that equity funding can also come with costs such as administration and legal fees for both your own and the funders.
While raising equity and grant funding can be vital for business growth, it is not always a straightforward process. The more comprehensive and competitive your business plan and pitch deck, the more likely you are to succeed.
Navigating financial issues such as raising equity and grant funding can be complex, with a multitude of opportunities to consider. However, with the support of one of our growth advisors, they can help you navigate this and ensure you have everything in place to give you the best chance of success.
Get in touch today to discover how we can help. Visit EFM Growth | Helping businesses grow (efm-growth.com) or call 01582 516 300.