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20/10/2015

Start up as you mean to go on

“Small businesses are part of the fabric of the Welsh economy and many of them have the potential to make an even greater contribution to it,” explains Nicola Edwards, Finance Wales’ Micro loans Fund Manager. 

A former small business banker, Nicola currently heads a team of six investment staff based all over Wales, making micro loans of between £1,000 and £50,000 to Welsh start-ups and small businesses.

“We’re backing a wider range of start-ups and small businesses than ever, including more bars, restaurants and retailers,” she adds.  “Some of the more unusual businesses our micro loans are helping include an app designer, an ice cream parlour as well as a special effects company. We even backed a zoo earlier this year.”

In fact, businesses in Wales’ retail, wholesale, hospitality and tourism sectors benefitted from over 40% of the loans Nicola and her team made in the last financial year.

“We’re helping hundreds of Welsh small business owners and potential owners to get their businesses off the ground or to take them to the next stage,” Nicola continues. “We have a flexible approach, consider each application individually and our loans can be used to buy stock and new equipment or to fit out their existing or new premises. They can also be used to boost cash flow, recruit new staff, to unlock much-needed additional investment. or even to buy a business.”

With money to lend to eligible businesses, Nicola and her team are keen to talk to more Welsh business owners about their growth plans.  She’s also keen to share a few tips on how business owners can smooth the application process and secure the funding they need.

“Preparing a robust business plan is an absolute must and a key starting point for anyone who’s serious about setting up or expanding their business,” Nicola explains.  “A well-written business plan demonstrates that a business owner really understands the business, its key drivers and knows how it will make profits.  It also demonstrates to potential funders that they’re serious about making it a success.”
 
With few start-ups an overnight success, understanding your business is only one of the keys to success.  Knowing your market is another: “Potential funders will want to know that you understand your customers and can demonstrate that you have a good understanding of all aspects of your business and are likely to keep one step ahead of the competition. This will help you to produce accurate forecasts, manage your stock effectively and negotiate better deals with suppliers, for example,” she continues.
 
“There’s no unique recipe for success, but start as you mean to go on - an up-to-date business plan will pay dividends as you grow your business.  It will help you to focus on what’s key to your business’ future success and to secure additional funding when you need it,” Nicola concludes. 

Micro loans are one of the growth funding options available from Finance Wales.  Find out more about the full range on at www.financewales.co.uk.