Debate: Business support and funding
Businesses of all sizes need help and funding to grow. But what’s the best route to take? We gathered our expert panel for a discussion at the Samlesbury Hotel hosted by Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub and asked them to share their journeys.[caption id="attachment_90986" align="f-align-center" width="600"] PRESENT: Richard Slater – Lancashire Business View • Anthony Mayall – Switchmy.com • Sue Haslem – NatWest • Andrew Leeming – Boost Lancashire • Mark Schofield – Haworths • Philip Hargreaves – Access to Finance • David Sussex – Remexx • Richard Swift – Britannia Footwear[/caption]
How would you define business support?Andrew Leeming: It is how we embolden businesses that are growth determined and want to do better for themselves with the tools and equipment they need.
I want to challenge the notion that public sector business support is passive. We’ve got to be smart in how we make our investments and find ways of accessing the absolutely amazing talent in Lancashire, discover what their barriers to growth are and what we can do in partnership with those businesses to go off and do amazing things.Philip Hargreaves: We help businesses understand what’s available to them in terms of finance and how to present themselves. Our key job is to get businesses in front of private sector funders at the right level, to get the right kind of facilities which are right for them at each stage.
We should be providing clear support and advice to businesses in helping them to understand how to access funding.Sue Haslem: There are clients looking at projects or new ventures, seeking support, and that might not just be financial, it also might be network or advice support. They could be at a cycle of their business where they need some more intensive care or more support from their advisors.
We often have conversations with our customers that ask ‘have you looked at grant funding?’ particularly when they’re looking to create jobs.Philip Hargreaves: Our job is not to move businesses around the banking network. It’s not what we do. It’s about providing that wrap-around support.
Banks still provide 80 percent of all funding that goes into commercial businesses. Our job is to help businesses understand what else is available when the bank has done its job.Andrew Leeming: I’m trying to move away from the mind-set of business support being free. What I want to do is get businesses into a space where they know they’ve got to make investments in terms of skills, time and finance and there is going to be a cost associated with that.
We are really clear that we have private sector partners delivering absolutely superb business support to the business community. There is some cynicism around the whole business support landscape and that includes public and private, and what we need to do is create conversations that are relevant.
- To read the full debate, see Lancashire Business View edition #73