About Me

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The business bit: I have had 25 years experience in the IT sector encompassing equipment finance to computer recycling. The coaching bit: is about delivering business mentoring and personal performance coaching. My clients range from senior executives to the unemployed and I delight in working with them all to build excellence and promote growth. My specialisms are working with business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses and enjoy themselves in the process, and helping individuals to realise their full potential. I also work with young people to build confidence and life skills so they can grasp life's opportunities and make the right life choices.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Business funding, loans and grants...how? where? what?

The Government has tried hard, very hard, to get our banks to lend to businesses.  And some banks have lent, so long as the business is robust enough and can prove a decent trading record.  These recipients are however not the businesses that really need the funding.  What about the struggling entrepreneurs with the great ideas that have started small, thought big and grown carefully?

We're not suggesting that every new business idea is going to work, in fact about 7 out of 10 new businesses survive for only 2 years (although statistics fluctuate).  Mr Cameron realises what a significant sector the small business economy is in the UK:   There are 4.5 million small businesses accounting for 99% of all the UK enterprise. constituting 58.8% of private sector employment with an estimated combined annual turnover of £1,500 billion.  Not to be sniffed at.  No wonder all the Government enthusiasm for backing entrepreneurs.

So back to the thorny question of how to get them funding when they need it.  Firstly the banking route, the Enterprise Finance Guarantee whereby the Government guarantees lenders 75% of the loan funding for borrowers who lack sufficient security to get a normal commercial loan.  This is delivered through approved lenders (mostly banks) on amounts between £1000 and £1million to enterprises with a turnover of up to £44 million.

Then there is the Funding for Lending initiative where commercial banks can exchange existing collateral for Treasury bills at an interest rate of 0.25%.  They will then be able to borrow wholesale money cheaply using these bills as backing and lend the wholesale money to homes and small firms.  Or at least that is the objective. Four out of ten small businesses were refused bank credit in the second quarter of 2012 (FSB) so it will be interesting to see how the banks go with this scheme.

If you are a young person wanting to start a business then you can apply to the  Start-up Loan Scheme where the Government has made around £80m available to help young people start out in business.  Anyone aged between 18-24 can apply and the average loan is around £2500, repayable within 5 years.

Following on from the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) is the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS).    Investors can commit £100,000 in any tax year and spread their investment over a number of companies, receiving up to 50% tax relief in the relevant investment year.  Businesses eligible for loans under this scheme must be no more than 2 years old, have assets less than £200,000 and fewer than 25 employees.

If all the above is just too confusing or complicated, the alternatives include organisations which match lenders to borrowers.  Thincats target loans between £50k and £1m, Seedrs specialises in lending up to £150k seed capital to entrepreneurs, Iwoca offers capital to on-line market retailers and Funding Circle offers low cost loans as well as asset-based loans.

This week Prince Charles called small businesses 'the bedrock of any economy'.  The Princes Trust Enterprise Scheme has helped 78,000 young people into a new venture so there's another option if you are a young person looking to create a new business.  Or there is the Fredericks Foundation which offers microloans up to £10,000 to people in the South of England for businesses who have been unsuccessful in raising bank funding.

And we haven't event started yet on other forms of business funding - invoice factoring, angel investors, asset funding, leadership and management funding, high growth funding, local grants or specialist industry focused grants.  It's a wonderful gallop through the tulips getting the right money for your business.  Get in touch if you want some more tips!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Checking the Choke

Think about the last time you were in the flow of achievement and then you stalled.  What happened?  What did you suddenly become aware of?  In all likelihood, you started to 'think' about what you were doing while you were doing it.

Matthew Syed in his book Bounce talks about the 'choke' that sportsmen and women experience for no apparent reason that results in their performance diving.  These are high achieving elite athletes with years of practice and experience in their field and yet they suffer apparently inexplicable and seriously big performance failures.

Huge chunks of what we do in our lives is learned unconscious action - the obvious is the stopping at a red light behaviour.  If you break down all the individual learnings that constitute these unconscious behaviours you'd probably disintegrate into a jibbering wreck of processes and would not be able to function because of the protracted time it would take you to follow all the instructions that make up each action or behaviour.   So it seems that we do stuff well because we're not really thinking about it.

That's not to say we can all just be good at everything.  As Matthew Syed emphasises, we need to practice, a lot, over and over, in order to achieve excellence.  Once we do that, the behaviour becomes set in our unconscious and we can perform.  We still need to practice and we still need to be aware, but we are dealing now on a higher plane where the practice and awareness relate to the 'getting better' bit of our performance.  The process is one where you learn the behaviour to the point where t is unconscious  - so, you don't think about what you are doing when you are driving for instance, as this has become an implicit memory.  Choking happens when  our anxiety is such that we feel we need to take conscious control over something that should be done automatically from implicit memory.

This is the point when we perhaps we need to draw on other skills and techniques to prevent the choke.  Stepping out of the moment, concentrating on the breath, taking the time-out to make a break in the pattern of your behaviour.  Find out how some performance coaching can help you gain perspective.Take the pressure off by thinking that this is about more practice, there are other opportunities out there and this is one on the way to that, not the biggest and best and only win of your life.