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Scale up: How to grow your business in 2015

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From finance to flexi-time, here are five key ideas to boost business

This article is brought to you in partnership with RBS, as part of the Dynamic Enterprise Summit 2014. Find out more here

As we enter the final quarter of 2014, enterprising business leaders must look for new opportunities to scale their operations in 2015. From finance to flexi-time, we bring you five key ideas to motivate, inspire and, ultimately, boost revenue and profit.  

1. Make the leap into exports

Back in July 2012, marketing giant Sir Martin Sorrell praised Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the London Olympics saying: “Britain looks like it’s at the centre of the world, which will be critical to our competitiveness as India and China continue to grow.” Fast forward to autumn 2014, and “Brand Britain” remains a powerful force – with BRIC nations buying up quintessential goods faster than you can say “Keep calm and carry on”.

One business that’s ready to go further into exporting than they have previously is menswear label, Guide London. “We’ve exhibited at The Moda Show at the NEC for the past eight years,” explains Richard Benson, director of Guide London. “This exhibition targets almost exclusively the UK market and it’s been a good show for us. However, as our distribution has grown in the UK, there are less new customers to do business with at the show. So it’s become apparent that our spend would be better targeted elsewhere – it makes more sense to target an overseas show where we can open new accounts.”

2. Apply for a bank loan

Cash flow and access to finance are real concerns for many of today’s business owners whether you are a start-up or a growing company. What was once a simple set of options has become an increasing challenge as the accessibility of the more traditional forms of finance are perceived by many to have diminished. To boost your chances of success it is important to have done your research and present a commercially-sound business case.

Geoff Ray, Regional Managing Director, London at RBS said: “A detailed and robust business plan can be your strongest asset and is generally used as a way to secure funding. Consider what evidence you have to detail financial control and forecasting and a business strategy that banks can challenge when considering funding. Keep it realistic and detailed, including real life targets, because this document provides us with the information we need to assess the viability of your business. It is vital that you are very clear on your proposition and requirements. Explain why you need the funding and how you can repay the debt repayments and fulfill the commitments. At RBS we know that the economy can only keep growing if we keep investing in the future and our message is clear, we are very much open for business and we want to support business growth across the diverse and rich business communities across London.”

3. Ramp up your content marketing

There’s no two ways about it, the last half decade has been all about… CONTENT. If you want to ramp up your marketing, boost sales and bring in more profit, then 2015 should be the year you embrace content marketing and really add value to customers via the comms that you produce.

Content marketing is about you helping your customers and helping your prospects. It’s about using your knowledge of a product, service and industry and turning it into a valuable piece of content that can be read, viewed and shared. It’s a brilliant way to position yourself and your company as a market leader. So if you haven’t already done so, think about starting a company blog where you provide advice, or look into penning a thought leadership article for a trade magazine or website.

4. Seek out alternative sources of finance

Crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, angel investment – sources of alternative finance have swelled in recent years. To help you make sense of it all, the RBS website has an incredibly useful appendix called (quite simply) Sources of non-bank finance, where it lists twenty-odd organisations that businesses can go to and discover more about alternative funding.

“We’re always looking at ways to help our customers and recognise that in addition to traditional bank products there are other sources of finance that can support your business,” says Geoff Ray. In many cases these options can be used in conjunction with other bank lending products.”

Meanwhile, crowdfunding platforms like Seedrs, Unbound and Crowdcube have now well and truly entered the British mainstream – smashing new records regularly and helping more and more businesses get the finance they need.

5. Introduce a flexible working policy

Amid plenty of hype and fanfare (much of it driven by telecom companies), the right to request flexible working was finally mandated on 30 June this year. British workers can now apply for flexible working practices like flexi-time and home-working – and employers are legally obliged to consider their requests. So what does this mean for scaling your business?

“If possible, progressive employers should consider introducing flexible working practices to their operations,” says Geoff Ray. “It’s a great example of forward thinking that will attract talent to your business, and, when executed properly, drive down overheads and make for a more productive workforce.”

Eager to help you grow a new turbocharged workforce for 2015, are a tonne of telcos and IT companies – all competing to offer the best products and packages on the market. With this myriad of tools on offer – from interactive whiteboards to bluetooth headsets – 2015 couldn’t be a better year to roll out flexible working.

So there you are – five ideas to get you excited about 2015. Now all you need to is get your NYE plans in order.

This article is brought to you in partnership with RBS, as part of the Dynamic Enterprise Summit 2014. Find out more here




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