Business Finance: Mark Prince on funding options for start-up firms seeking to grow

Mark Prince of KPMG.

Mark Prince of KPMG. - Credit: Archant

Access to funding is vital for start up businesses looking to move their enterprises to the next level. An ideal way of funding your business would be through your own cashflow – ploughing the profits back in to fund growth but as many business leaders recognise – you can grow faster if you access external funding as well.

For the majority of entrepreneurs, personal assets and savings or borrowing money from friends and family has been the main source of funding when getting their business going. This underlines the significant personal risks that many entrepreneurs take when following their dream of starting their own business.

In general, bank lending has become easier to obtain than it was in the depths of the downturn. Private equity (PE) and venture capital funding is also becoming more popular now as the economy improves and has real advantages – not only ongoing investment but ongoing advice and support too. It can also offer the opportunity to monetise or release some of the investment entrepreneurs have already made.

However, unless you have a track record from running a previous business or significant assets to put up as security, bank or other institutional lending can be very difficult to secure in the early days.

Angel investors have become more popular as a way of filling the gap between starting up and becoming ready for institutional investment. Alongside their money, angels often bring invaluable strategic insight to a company and a commercial discipline that will stand the business in good stead when negotiating later with banks or PE houses.

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One thing is certain – there are plenty of options. Alternative funding sources such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending may not have taken over the world yet, but they are starting to genuinely emerge and will, no doubt, grow in future years.

So whilst much funding remains at the hands of friends and family for new businesses in the early days, there are lots of options available when looking to move your business to the next level. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution but wherever you are in your business lifecycle you should be looking at the options available to find the funding stream that’s right for you and your business.

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: : Mark Prince is head of enterprise for KPMG in East Anglia.

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