Heather Waters, Natwest: Key considerations when scaling your business

Five key considerations when scaling your business

Scaleups play a vital role in growing the UK economy, but it’s equally important that business owners have the right mindset as they enter the scaleup phase to maintain sustainable growth.

The Scaleup Mindset is a new series of tips and advice articles from Two Zero. We’ll partner with Lancashire and UK experts to understand the mindset of a scaleup leader and prepare owners and managers for rapid business growth.

A scaleup is a business growing consistently at 20 per cent each year, a rapid measure of growth that needs to be carefully managed. Heather Waters, North West regional ecosystem manager at NatWest, highlights five key considerations for business leaders to address when entering this phase of growth.

1. Review your business and personal goals

Make sure you have time to follow up on the objectives outlined in your original start-up business plan and see them through. Consider who you need to engage with to develop your growth strategy and plot out how you will do so.

Developing a business plan for scaling up should include a strategy and plans for your own personal development, that will inevitably support the vision for your business.

2. Include the right people, skills and talent

You may know what you need from your team during the growth of your business, but it’s crucial you have the right people in place to support your growth plans. While there are regular reports of skills-gaps in the UK, consider how you can recruit a growing team for your business. There is an appetite for apprenticeships and internships among the scaleup community, which ensures scaleups are able to develop their people.

Be clear with your team about your scaleup plans. Ensure they understand what you aim to achieve and how you plan to accomplish it. Facilitate training if necessary and let your team be a part of the growth journey.

3. Getting funding to meet your growth needs 

According to the ScaleUp Institute, scaleups are more likely to use external finance than their SME peers, with 84 per cent using such funding to support growth. But around 40 per cent of scaleups think they don’t have access to the right funding for their needs.

If you’re not sure what funding options will suit your growth needs, speak to local business support services. Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub has a team of business relationship managers who can discuss your finance and funding needs and direct you to suitable support partners.

The team can also assist in developing business plans and forecasts to make your business ‘investment friendly’, so before your meeting, make sure you know your numbers so they can make appropriate recommendations.

4. Establish and grow your networks

Networks are invaluable to scaleups. The ScaleUp Institute has found that businesses with an established network of like-minded entrepreneurs who are also scaling, have a great sounding board for sharing experiences and best practices.

Seek support from the various peer to peer networks in your area and available mentoring programmes. These provide a confidential ‘safe’ environment to discuss, share and learn from other like-minded business owners.

The ScaleUp Institute is currently working with Innovate UK to launch a national peer-to-peer learning initiative. In the meantime, the Institute has endorsed a series of leadership programmes across the country.

5. Seek support to sustain your growth

NatWest’s A springboard to recovery report quotes “a revitalised small and medium-sized business sector driven by scaleups has the potential to deliver up to £140bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy over the course of the current decade – provided the right external assistance is in place to help them boost productivity.”

There is no doubt that scaleups do play a vital and valuable role in the UK economy. But wherever you are in your scaleup journey, having the right backing and support is key to sustaining your growth plans and staying on track.

The ScaleUp Institute has developed a number of recommendations designed to ensure that scaleups receive the external support that will enable them to realise their true potential.

‘Scaleup Visas’ should be made available in areas with a high concentration of scaleup businesses in order to make it easier for these enterprises to recruit the skilled workers they need to drive growth.

And local scaleup hubs should be developed and promoted by local ‘scaleup champions’ in order to increase scale-up density in all parts of the UK.

In your own scaleup journey, make sure to regularly be in touch with the ScaleUp Institute and your local support providers in Lancashire including Two Zero and Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub to benefit from their latest support services and programmes.

Heather Waters - Natwest

Heather Waters, North West regional ecosystem manager, NatWest.

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