By Miranda Khadr, below, founder, Provide Finance
Britain has long been renowned as a nation of small businesses. Indeed, government figures suggested that there were around 5.5 million SMEs in action across the country at the start of 2022, with the vast majority of those having 49 or less staff. While that number has dipped somewhat following the pandemic, when it peaked at around six million, it’s worth reflecting on what a boom period we have seen for the emergence of smaller businesses. Back in 2000 the figure stood at around 3.5 million, with numbers on a steady positive trajectory until Covid reached our shores. Clearly there is an enormous appetite among Brits to start and run their own businesses, to deliver the products, services – and of course employment – needed by the country at large.
Accessing the right finance
A keen concern for all SMEs, whether they are start-ups or experienced hands, will be finance. If a business is to succeed and grow, there will be times when they need to look beyond their regular revenues and raise funds for some purpose.
However, understanding that you need to raise those funds is only the first step; the crucial part is working out where you are going to be able to get the finance from. After all, this is not necessarily an area of the financial sector that is particularly well understood nor accessible for most people. It’s not like opening a bank account or taking out a credit card – most of us at least know where to start with that.
But if you are hoping to raise some asset finance in order to invest in the machinery your business requires, or supply chain finance in order to free up working capital, for example, then your options may be something of a mystery. These aren’t necessarily areas that high street lenders are active in, and so a different approach is required.
Organising existing debt can also be a challenge. It’s not uncommon for a business to have multiple lines of debt, with different lenders, in place at any one time. Calculating whether you would be better off opting to consolidate those debts into a single facility is not necessarily easy to do.
Business owners will know that they need funds, understand where that finance can make a real difference to their bottom line and future prospects. But that doesn’t mean they will know how to go about raising those funds and helping that business take the next step.
Making things easier for business borrowers
It’s because of the difficulties that businesses can have in pinpointing their finance options that we launched Provide Finance. If you are running a business, chances are you don’t have the time to take hours out of your day trying to make sense of the business finance sector enough to find a suitable lender, let alone compare your options to ensure you have the right deal.
Throw in the fact that businesses often need to move swiftly when it becomes clear that funds are needed, and the whole process becomes a nightmare.
It doesn’t have to be like that, however. The Provide Finance platform allows borrowers to connect directly with more than 200 lenders active in this more specialist space. All you need to do is submit your enquiry on the platform, and you will be paired with funding options from pre-approved lenders – the ones who are going to be most keen to work with you on your specific project.
From here borrowers can speak with individual lenders, work out the terms of the deal and determine which option is right for them. Throughout the process, there is also a team of specialists on hand to offer advice and guidance, ensuring that you are fully supported every step of the way.
Making use of technology
For too long business finance has been an opaque and confusing area, but smart technology developments can demystify the industry and make it faster and easier for owners and leaders to access the funds they need, whether they are looking to make investments in their own operations or simply consolidate the debts they already have.
Pinpointing the providers who will make that process easier, and who have the requisite partnerships with lenders in the business finance space, can ensure that businesses are able to push their business on to the next level.