How to Maximise your Chances of Securing a Small Business Loan

One of the biggest challenges start-ups and fledgling businesses face is securing the funding they need to realise their potential.

A majority of business owners feel that finding finance is difficult in the current climate, and in particular, that banks are reluctant to provide business loans at competitive rates.

So to help you maximise your chances of getting that all-important business loan, we asked Rishi Khosla, the CEO and co-founder of OakNorth Bank – a bank that specialises in lending to entrepreneurs and growth businesses – to share his valuable insight and personal experiences with ByteStart readers;
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9 ways to strike the right work/life balance as a small business owner

Being a business owner, and your own boss, is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life, but it can come with some drawbacks such as long hours, stress and a poor work/life balance.

If you’re running your own business and want to stay on top of your game for the long-term, you need to look at the way you integrate work into your life. If you work too hard, you can run yourself into the ground and actually end up damaging the business, you so desperately want to succeed.

So here are 9 thing you can do to help strike the right work/life balance while running your own business; (more…)

The Founder’s dilemma – Managing the transformation from start-up to growth business

Business growth can be characterised in several ways – sales, profit, employees…. and looking to make the business scalable and capable of achieving sustainable profitable growth is a fully understandable objective.

However, whichever way you look at it, the underlying driver is likely to be that the founder wants to look beyond funding his or her lifestyle and start seeking value creation. (more…)

How to get people around to your point of view

Being able to persuade people to come around to your point of view is a very valuable skill to have, and particularly so when you are starting and running your own business.

When you’re launching a new venture you might need to convince potential investors to fund your fledgling business, persuade suppliers to give you favourable terms, encourage great people to join you and entice new clients on board. To do all of these successfully, you will need to be able to influence others and their views.

So with this ability being so crucial in helping you to grow your business, how do you get people around to your point of view?

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How to avoid self-destruction and achieve your business goals

When we are starting up and running our own business there are extraordinary demands on our time. We need to spend time on getting our product right, finding customers, seeking finance, managing staff and dealing with the latest legislation, such as the new auto-enrolment pension laws.

With the sheer range of tasks and every day duties to tackle, we can all find that our business goals can get lost in the frenzy and the frustration of not meeting our aims can get us down.

To achieve long-term success we need stay focused on our goals. And to achieve those goals, we need to keep quite a degree of discipline to ensure that our time doesn’t get sucked away and evaporate like a puddle on a sunny day.
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How peer-to-peer lending offers start-ups and small businesses a new funding option

If you need more finance to grow your business, there are a number of options which you might wish to consider. You could turn to your own personal savings, ask family members for help, get a bank loan, issue shares, or speak to some business angels or venture capitalists.

Or you could consider peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.

P2P lending is fast becoming the norm for businesses needing finance to get an idea off the ground or raise the capital necessary to expand and take projects to the next level.

But whilst it’s become a more common financial avenue for SMEs to pursue, it’s still not as well-known as it could be. According to a 2014 Nesta Report, only 44% of UK small businesses have heard of P2P lending.

So what exactly is peer-to-peer lending and how can small and growing businesses use it to finance growth?
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How to motivate employees and create a loyal workforce on a budget

A recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management (iLM) suggested more than a third of UK workers (37%) were hoping to leave their current job inside 12 months, and that a quarter of people planning to change jobs were doing so because they felt underappreciated by their current employer.

Other studies have shown that many UK employees feel undervalued at work and often it’s the small things that count. Last year recruitment website monster.co.uk found 58% of British workers don’t believe employees are thanked enough in the workplace, with 54% saying this left them feeling unappreciated and 41% feeling demotivated as a result.

So what can small business owners do to help ensure staff are motivated to do a good job and want to stay with you for the long-term? (more…)

How to turn your customers into your best sales force

If you’re starting a business then chances are money is tight – so anything you can do to increase sales without spending a fortune is worth looking at.

It’s easy to imagine that you need to employ a crack sales team – but the truth is, if you’ve made one sale, then you already have one sales person – that customer. And more often than not, the best people to sell your products and services are your customers.

Customers have already gained benefit from you and because they are impartial, they can provide legitimate social proof. So how do you get your customers selling for you? (more…)

Get people queuing up to do business with you by creating a ‘Campaign Driven Enterprise’

There are restaurants that have people queuing up to dine, products that you have to pre-order months before they are released, tickets that sell out within hours and shares that shoot up in value right after they float.

There are cars that are snapped up before they are constructed and apartments that are sold before the first brick has been laid.

But, why are a select group of people and products in such high demand? And more importantly, how can you recreate a similar desire for your business?
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10 ways your business can become more agile today

In the tech start-up sector agile is a popular mind set and method used for business and product development. It’s a methodology that aims to maximise profit, deliver value and help you to enjoy the journey of shaping and building a successful business.

When launching and growing a business and developing new products we face an environment of extreme uncertainty and constant change with disruptive and fast-moving markets. Being agile helps to navigate this journey and find the best path to creating a sustainable and scalable business model.

Agile isn’t just for tech businesses, any business can use agility to springboard their growth. Companies with an agile culture that embraces and adapts to change, can turn uncertainty into opportunity, and flourish when other businesses fail.

Here are ten ways your business can become more agile today by adopting agile thinking and tools; (more…)

Establishing a set of values for your company

Do you wish everyone in your business talked with one voice? There are plenty of corporate cliches for this – being on the same page, singing from the same hymn sheet – but it all boils down to one thing: having a strong company identity that everyone shares.

When you launch a business, you probably aren’t thinking about a brand, culture or values. However, by the time your growing start-up has reached the point where you employ more than a handful of people, it may be time to establish key words and values that ensure unity and continuity. (more…)

Why your start-up needs to slow down

It was Mahatma Gandhi who once famously said, “There’s more to life than increasing its speed.”

And his observation applies to business as much as it applies to life. Businesses that have the most success are the ones willing to take the time to slow down and think about what they are doing.

This is borne out by an Economist Intelligence Unit study that found companies who slowed down made, on average, 40% more sales and 52% higher profits than companies who had set getting faster and faster their main priority.

So what aspect of your start-up will benefit from you slowing down?
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Barriers to growth – how to identify them and how to overcome them

Why do some businesses appear to steam ahead, recording rapid year on year growth, when others even in the same sector, with the same market opportunity, lag behind, recording poor growth or often no growth at all.

Of course, every sector will have its own nuances, however there are some barriers to grow that every business owner (and aspiring business owner) will need to address if they aim to punch above their weight. (more…)

The 3 issues you’ll need to overcome if you want your start-up to reach £1m turnover

According to research, around 7% of working age adults in the UK expect to start a business in the next three years.

Many of these aspiring new business owners will be envisaging a multi-million pound business, or even a multi-billion pound business. But, statistically, only 4% of business owners ever reach the £1million turnover mark.

So, what’s holding back more than 2.5 million UK businesses from breaking that £1million barrier?
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Lessons in steering your business to export success – The Brompton Bicycle

The Brompton Bicycle is a great example of how a simple idea can be transformed into a global business. Today, the company behind the bike is a well-known British business success story, but it wasn’t always the case.

Back in the 1970s, having looked at the folding bike designs already on the market, Brompton founder Andrew Ritchie, decided he could do something better.
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Wisdom of Crowds: 4 ways customers can improve your company

The development of a strong relationship between consumers and your company is one of the keys to achieving a good level of customer retention.

Now, with the increasing possibilities offered by digitalisation, it is even possible to make the customer a part of the company, allowing them to play an active role in its activities and build a genuine emotional connection through the four following options (more…)

The 7 qualities every business woman needs

Popular media would have us believe that the legendary entrepreneurs are born that way, concocting profitable deals with their schoolmates from a young age, and that you either have those elusive qualities or you don’t. I disagree.

From what I have experienced over the years, you can acquire the qualities of those successful business owners, if you want to. (more…)

What is your business really famous for? – Understanding your IP and using it to drive growth

International bodies seem to be falling over themselves to upgrade their growth forecasts for the UK. The IMF recently hiked its predictions to 2.9% this year and the OECD to 3.2%. This is all good news. But what does it mean for business owners?

An interesting phenomenon occurs as economies race out of deep recessions; there is a rush for new and innovative products as buyers and consumers seek radical new solutions. This comes at exactly the time many companies are still in ‘recession mode’; blinkered, inwardly focused and slow, so creates a great opportunity for nimble and brave businesses. (more…)