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A few years ago a politician’s favourite catch phrase for his incoming government was ‘Education, Education, Education’.  I would have to agree that ‘education’ is currently much needed in the world of enterprise finance.

Over the past few weeks, I have attended and been a speaker at a number of events on the subject of sources of finance for small businesses and how to access them.  I have been personally delighted that these events have been both staged and showcased.  After all that has been written about small business finance – or rather the lack of it – initiatives to raise awareness of what is available are to be applauded.

The audiences varied from youngsters, including graduates, considering enterprise as a career path, start ups and early stage growth businesses – some small and some potentially large – in addition to established businesses seeking to grow.  Specialist sectors and communities were also represented.

Members of the professional advisory communities seeking to help small businesses were in attendance – lawyers, accountants, financiers and marketers – as you would expect.  What has surprised me is the trend that seems to be emerging for these professionals, mentors and coaches not to have been able to update their knowledge.  Having already observed that many of the websites supposedly offering help to small businesses are woefully out of date, I am now greatly concerned about where busy small business owner/managers, who have very little time to do their own research, are going to turn for accurate information on how best to finance their businesses.

There is another worrying trend – for small businesses to rely on credit cards, high cost loans, even pawn brokers, when they could be using a mixed package of finance at a lower cost and benefitting from the expert business advice that comes from specialist providers.

How are we to ensure that small businesses and their advisors have access to the ‘education’ they need?  The world has changed substantially and there are many new sources of finance available.  It is far more usual nowadays for a blend of different sources of finance to be the planned solution to fulfil the needs of a business.

Ironically, in a world in which it is easier than ever to publish information and communicate with each other, it seems that it is harder than ever to keep in touch and remain up to date.

At ART we will continue to do our best to gather and pass on up-to-date information and guidance about access to finance for small businesses.  So, if you can’t see something on our website which you believe should be there do get in touch – and we will do likewise!

July 1, 2013 1:05 pm

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