SME & Micro Business Advice
Can you afford not too? It shouldn’t be a question of can you afford me, but can you afford not too? Having worked with small and micro businesses throughout my career and specifically in my last role as the CEO of Gulf Finance, I am well placed to support and advise SMEs with the many challenges they face. I have also set up my own small business so I have an understanding of what it takes. So why choose me over deciding to continue as you are and not spending anything on your business?
One of my mantra’s is “don’t practice struggle” Often this can be a case of getting a fresh pair of eyes on a problem or bouncing ideas around on how to solve it. I bring a wealth of practical hands-on experience, accumulated from over 30 years of working in banking, finance and insurance in emerging markets – particularly in the Middle East. Assistance could be by way of undertaking a critical diagnostic of your business, helping you present a case for finance to your Bank, assistance with the feasibility study for a new product or entering a new market.
Examples of client case studies:
So what are the challenges facing small and micro businesses and where can I help?
Without doubt the biggest challenge I see for small businesses is managing their cash flow and getting paid for work done. Cash is king and without it many small businesses can go bankrupt even though they are profitable and have great products or services.
Business Plans & Planning
A well thought out and constructed business plan is the starting point for any small business. I can help you put together a business plan that will test how robust the business model is. This will help you, as an entrepreneur, ensure that you have fully thought through all aspects of your business. It is also a document that potential investors and lenders will require if they are to support. They will try to pick holes in it, so let’s make it as solid as we can.
Obtaining and Raising Finance
Once funding from family and friends has been exhausted it is time to go out into the big wide world and seek either additional equity or debt. Both forms of finance have different characteristics and the providers have different requirements and time horizons. For example, if you raise equity you will need to decide how much “control” you are willing to give up in return for the extra funds to grow your business. Equity holders will require their return in the form of dividends and will need an exit route for their investment.
Providers of debt, typically financial institutions (banks and finance houses ) have shorter term time scales and typically will want a rate of interest paid on the money they have provided. Security may be required and the rate of interest will depend upon a combination of factors such as amount, time-frame, purpose etc. Having spent 30 years in banking and finance I can help you with your financial case and guide you on how to present it to have the best chance of success.
One area which small businesses frequently overlook is a four letter word – risk. Are you aware of the risks that your business is running? If so, have you got strategies in place to manage and mitigate those risks? Are you adequately insured? In my experience small and micro businesses are often seriously under insured against the risks they are running in their business. I have worked on numerous risk committees which look at all aspects of risk including credit, operational and liquidity etc.
So what’s your strategy? Where will your business be in three years or five years time? What are your goals? What is your Unique Sales Point (USP). How and why are you going to beat your competitors? Do you have a Vision and a Mission?
Strategy is not rocket science. It is about working out the two or three things you are really good at and then executing the hell out of them! More than strategy, the implementation of the agreed strategy is the key to success.
Balancing Growth and Costs
Small businesses generally want to become big businesses and that requires them to grow. The challenge is managing the costs of that growth and ensuring that you remain focused on what made you successful in the first place. Avoid distractions that create extra work but not much revenue. There is a temptation to try to run before you can walk and to try to conquer the world before your core business is successful. In these instances it really helps to bounce ideas off others. Are the costs that you are adding producing revenue?
What’s your target market and what’s the size of the profit pool of the segment that you are trying to reach? Have you researched your offering and go to market strategy? Have you undertaken a feasibility or market sizing study? All these will help reduce the risk of failure and improve the return on your marketing investment.
Recruitment and Staffing
It’s all about the people. You need to get the right people on the bus and then drive the bus in the right direction. Is your organisation correctly staffed and structured around delivering what your customers really need.
Networking / My Community
One of the skills I bring to the table is a network of contacts across industries, geographies, market segments and products etc. You may need specialist help that I am unable to provide so being able to help you find the right resources for your business at the right price and is a value add.
Risk Management Advisory Services
Click here to see information about my risk management advisory services.
Fees and Rates
For information about my rates click here or to discuss your unique requirements please contact me.