Champagne corks may be popping in the knowledge that, in the recent City of Expertise – ‘Barriers to Growth’ survey, over 80% of the businesses in St Albans and surrounding area are anticipating growth within the next 2 years. 60% are expecting up to or over 10% growth in productivity. But growth comes at a price – literally!

A growth environment always creates challenges and though ‘cash flow’ was a long way down the list of concerns for businesses seeking growth, in the survey it is still listed as the 6th most critical issue.

Nearly 10% of those answering the survey saw cash flow as a considerable risk to their growth plans and 16% saw access to finance and cash flow having a serious effect on their ability to deliver productivity targets.

Whilst many of the businesses responding to the survey have not tried to attract funding from external sources, it is satisfying to report that 24% have successfully raised finance and the further 17% intend to do so in the next 12 months.

The report indicates, the key intention for the businesses in the survey who had raised finance, is to use the funds to develop the business. This is followed by investment in property or premises and products and services.

There is certainly no shortage of investment money available to help growing business, but it is also important to note that this is not ‘easy money’. Whatever the source, lenders expect good business plans, accurate and sound financial thinking, clear growth strategy and a sensible vision of how the debt will be repaid or an appropriate exit strategy.

However, it is also clear from the results of the survey that not all businesses have the internal expertise or skills within the financial management and business planning arena. When asked, 19% responded that they lacked skills in business planning and 13% said they lacked skills in financial management. These are core management functions that can help contain the cost of growth and ensure both funds and resources are available for investment at the right time, and businesses would be well advised not to ignore them.

If your business is having difficulties of any sort, please get in touch with one of our members and if they cannot help then they will certainly know someone who can. We are called ‘The City of Expertise’ for a very good reason!