Business Link Finance Finder
Business Link Finance Finder provides online information for business, is a searchable database of publicly-backed and private sources of finance that can help you to start up and grow your business. The tool will help you explore the full range of options that you might want to consider from government grants through to investment types of finance available from Business Angels and Venture Capitalists.
Before you start – see section on Preparing for investment
Get more hints and tips about raising finance on the Better Business Finance website
Learn about credit management on the Institute for Credit Management website
Find out more about how to manage your cashflow and how to deal with slow paying customers on the Asset Based Finance Association website
Find out about Community Development Finance Institutions – who lend to people who find it difficult to borrow money from banks and building societies – on the Finding Finance website
Other sources of funding
StartUp Loans for young entrepreneurs
Shell LiveWIRE – free funding and support for young entrepreneurs
The Prince’s Trust – funding and support for young entrepreneurs
Iwoca – ‘instant’ working capital for eBay businesses
Seedrs – small scale crowdfunded investment capital
Crowdfunder – crowdfunded investment funding
Funding Circle – crowdfunded loans to small businesses
The Fredericks Foundation – micro-business loans for people in disadvantaged circumstances
Community Development Finance Institutions – CDFIs are regional organisations providing small loans to businesses
Better Business Finance – a project jointly set up by high street banks to give more information on lending criteria and alternative sources of bank funding.
BBC Dragons’ Den
Last Year’s Dragons’ Den was record breaking, attracting more viewers than ever before. New Dragon Hilary Devey arrived, arched her shoulder pads and firmly established her place amongst the revered business leaders, and some of Britain’s best entrepreneurs gained the cash they desperately needed to turn their business fortunes around. Now it’s 2012 and the Den is ready to open once again.
Series 9 saw sixteen entrepreneurs accept an offer of investment from the business savvy multi-millionaires. One of the most dramatic pitches came from Chris Hopkins, who needed £120,000 to take his solar panel service nationwide. Having demonstrated his business was on a steep profit trajectory, four Dragons entered into a fierce bidding war to take a stake in the Yorkshireman’s company. A total of seven offers were made, including one notably retracted by Duncan Bannatyne. Chris finally shook hands with Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden, and with their help, he says he is now operational in eight regions and has quadrupled his sales revenue. Last year his profit exceeded £1M, and he is delighted to say, “Dragons’ Den has made me a millionaire!”
Former city worker Georgette Hewitt, who offered a stake in her children’s gift website, had an experience marked by extremes. After one of the worst starts ever in the Den that saw her fail to complete her presentation, she reined in her nerves and steered her pitch back on track. Such was her transformation; Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis agreed to invest £60,000 in her business, and it seems that viewers were won over too as she tells us her website received 1.4 million hits that night.
Since then, Georgette says she is spending her Dragons’ money wisely, and reports a 70% increase in sales. It was Hilary Devey who spotted the opportunity in Liz and Alan Colleran’s memory foam sleeping bag. Impressed with their invention she invested the £80,000 they needed to improve manufacture. Now they say their influential Dragon has helped them to pursue new markets; including arranging a meeting with Richard Branson to pitch their product to his airline. They’ve also secured a major new deal that already guarantees half the turnover they achieved last year.
Previous success stories in the Den include single mum, Kirsty Henshaw. In 2010 she convinced Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones to invest £65,000 in her healthy deserts. She tells us that since her Dragons came onboard, her produce is now stocked in 665 stores nationwide, and she has achieved nearly £700,000 worth of sales. 2012 will see her new product range hit the shelves, and she is in talks to launch in America. Of course not everyone secures investment in the Den, but that doesn’t stop determined entrepreneurs going on to prove the Dragons wrong. In 2008, Natalie Ellis failed to convince the financiers to back her non-spill dog bowl, now she tells us that the product is available in 42 countries, her business is worth millions of pounds and even Barack Obama owns one!
The rules are simple: Entrepreneurs ask for a cash investment in return for equity in their business. They must get at least the amount they ask for or they will walk away with nothing. The Dragons are prepared to be pitched any kind of business but they must be convinced that it requires investment and will make money. Businesses and products that have previously gained financial backing in the Den have demonstrated one or more of the following: unique selling point, scalability, clear route to market and a planned exit strategy.
If you’re genuinely seeking investment for your business idea or invention, we’d like to hear from you. The BBC will be auditioning throughout the coming months. If you would like an application form please send an e-mail to email@example.com or visit www.bbc.co.uk/dragonsden
Britain’s first online mentoring resource
Great new business mentoring site launched called Mentorsme – connects companies with mentoring organisations that can support and guide their growth.
It’s Britain’s first online gateway for small and medium-sized enterprises looking for mentoring services.
Mentors for start-ups, growing business, established, succession planning – If you are a business that needs support or a business professional who can offer support, the online can help you connect with each other.
There’s pages of useful national advice and resources , there’s pages for those seeking regional mentoring organisations.
Simple, easy to use site, with good factual information about how to become a mentor and how to seek mentoring services.
Business angels are wealthy individuals who invest in start-up and growth companies in return for equity in the company. The investment can involve both time and money depending upon the investor.
Typically business angels have already made their fortune through other business ventures, possibly their own start-up or a career in business. Most are men aged between 45 and 65. However, investors can be younger – particularly in the technology sector.
Business angels can operate independently, but many work as a syndicate. This is because 40% of all angel investments re lost. Only the top 20% achieve more than a 50% return. To avoid losing a lot of money on one big deal, an investor needs to make a number of investments and spread the risk.
The British Business Angels Association (BBAA) estimates that business angels invest roughly £300 million every year. BBAA research has indicated that business angels invest more in early stage businesses than formal Venture Capital funds.
Angels Den connects business owners who need funding with Angel Investors (High Net Worthindividuals.) Angels Den is one of the largest global Angel networks with over 4000 Angels registered worldwide and is the only company to offer pitching to Angels on a one-to-one basis. This is through the unique format of Speed Funding™ which provides a fantastic fast-track to business funding.
SpeedFunding™ is a highly effective matching mechanism with 90% of business owners finding at least one interested Angel and vice versa. At Angels Den, over 3,000 individual pitches, on average, take place a year between business owners
and investors giving business owners the best chance of securing funding.
Angels Den is passionate that every business looking to grow, or any start up with abrilliant business idea, in any part of the world, should have the opportunityto access funding.
How to pitch to an angel
In today’s turbulent economic climate, securing business funding can be a minefield for entrepreneurs. With credit from banks drying up, many small business owners are turning to alternative forms of funding such as angel investment. However, this can put added pressure on those who are not used to ‘promoting’ their business in front of potential investors. Here is a list of top 10 tips to help entrepreneurs deliver a successful pitch:
- Elevator pitch – Business owners should be able to pitch their products or
services in any circumstances, even when they have a very limited amount of
time. An elevator pitch is a quick, yet comprehensive, overview of a business
short enough to be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride.
- Prepare – As Mark Twain said “It takes more than three weeks to prepare a
good impromptu speech.” Pitching to a potential business angel could
dramatically change the future of a business. Preparation is key to take
advantage of this opportunity.
- Setting up the stage – If possible, it’s always ideal to prepare the room of
the meeting well in advance. This is especially important if the pitch includes
a product demonstration or the use of multimedia aids.
- Look your best – A common concern for small business owners is choosing the
right clothing for a pitch. Wearing a suit is usually preferred as it shows a
level of respect for a potential investor. A general rule of thumb is that in
these circumstances you can never overdress!
- Know your numbers – When looking for investment, small business owners
should know their accounts inside-out and be able to discuss them with investors
in detail. Commit key figures to memory and prepare a one-side ‘crib sheet’ to
avoid forgetting crucial information due to nerves.
- Have a clear strategy in place – A solid business plan that identifies the
strategy is crucial. The plan must contain a commercial idea which will provide
an eventual profit for investors or, as a minimum, sufficient profit to repay
the interest and the principal on a loan.
- Product vs. People – Investors are interested in not only the product, but
also the marketplace, the competition, the management team, the eventual exit
strategy and of course the entrepreneurs themselves. Business angels are
investing in people as much as companies, as they plan to work together over the
long term. Establishing a rapport with the potential investor is key to a
- Care – Business angels invest their own money and they would expect to see
business owner putting themselves on the line for their project. If an
entrepreneur doesn’t show commitment to what he/she is doing, why should
- Be honest, even about tricky subjects – A question that angel investors
frequently ask is “what are the risks in this business?” Small business owners
must be prepared to discuss contingency plans and potential difficulties the
business could face. Angel investors will appreciate a realistic assessment and
honest responses as opposed to a rose-tinted view.
- Feedback – Regardless to the outcome of the pitch and if funding gets
secured, receiving feedback from potential investors it’s invaluable.
Entrepreneurs should be prepared to receive negative feedback and take it on
board to refine their business ideas.
Finally, remember, no small business owner is alone. The support of experienced investment agencies and other professional advisors should not be understated. In addition, if small business owners prepare thoroughly and follow these best practice tips they will be well-placed to successfully attract potential investors despite the downturn.