August 2011

Sectors bucking the trend

In light of the current economic climate and recent media coverage of goings on in the financial community, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that securing funding as a small business is all doom and gloom. Here at, however, we know different and thought we’d lighten the mood slightly by mentioning a few of the industry sectors that are bucking the trend and managing to maintain a continued investor interest.

  • Clean Technology / Renewables: A rapidly growing market over recent years, the cleantech sector covers all manner of clean energy production methods, carbon reduction and storage methods, recycling and green finance models. Recent notable events in the funding community have included investments in carbon capture technologies, recycled plastics, smart grid technologies, solar energy and the next generation of lithium-ion batteries. It also looks like this trend is set to continue as large investment companies set aside significant amounts of capital for future investment in the sector.
  • Cloud computing / Software as a Service (SaaS): As an industry sector,
    this spans the following areas: e-commerce, cloud computing,
    infrastructure software, enterprise software, gaming and mobile
    applications. These areas have seen a high volume of investments in
    recent months, especially on the continent, and promise to maintain
    continued growth as technology that provides access to shared
    resources, software and information on the internet becomes ever more
    popular with consumers.

This is not an exhaustive list and both areas span a huge variety of technologies that continue to attract investor interest. From this it easy to see that there are plenty of opportunities for securing funding around, despite what general media reports would have you believe.

Making the most of mentoring

Starting and running a business isn’t always easy and having good mentors, advice and support can make a huge difference to its success. This is something that appears to be increasingly acknowledged by Government and within the private sector. Back in July, the UK’s five biggest banks launched a mentoring scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and, early in 2012, the Government plan to launch the Business Coaching for Growth programme, which aims to help up to 10,000 high growth businesses a year to address barriers to growth and grow more rapidly.

Of course, these programmes will both make an incredibly valuable contribution to enterprise support but companies can also make the most of the vast amount of information available to them via the internet. The Startup Britain website, which launched in March of this year, is one example and has proved to be very popular in its first three months, with over 1500 hours of mentoring pledged to 131 young startups and over 3500 Blackberry-sponsored startup guides downloaded.

In terms of securing finance, getting good advice and mentoring can make the difference between success and failure. The first step is, of course, to understand your options – and this website is a great place to start! The second thing is to think carefully about what will be required, or desired, by the people who you hope will fund your business. If you’re going for a bank loan, can you provide the security they require and show your ability to make the repayments? If you’re pitching to a business angel, can you demonstrate how the investor will make a return on their investment? If you’re looking to get a grant, do you meet their specified objectives? Again, getting advice and coaching (preferably from someone who has successfully secured funding) can be invaluable. So, keep an eye out for the mentoring schemes and make the most of the help that is out there!