Creating a cohort of excellenceJanuary 2016 | Viewpoint
BGF has big ambitions. We’re working to create something special – a network of entrepreneurs who can share knowledge, experiences and ideas to accelerate growth in their own businesses and each other’s.
We meet entrepreneurs and owner managers from all walks of life: a scientist or manufacturing boss from Cambridge; an hotelier in Scotland; a digital wizard in Shoreditch or Manchester - and plenty more besides. What they all have in common is ambition, talent and energy: and overwhelmingly, they know what they want for their businesses.
But they also know the challenge is in the journey. Growing sales from £5m or £10m to say £50m or £100m requires a sensible and detailed business plan, with a strong management team, and heaps of perseverance.
And it is a journey that, more often than not, requires investment.
Some entrepreneurs continue to be influenced by age-old views of what it means to take an equity investment: namely, that it’s burdensome and results in loss of control. But with the increase in the supply of growth capital (BGF, for example, was set up in 2011 and has up to £2.5bn to deploy) and with a growing number of companies putting this capital to work, more and more entrepreneurs are beginning to understand that equity investments come in all shapes and sizes. The key is finding the right one for your business.
BGF’s purpose is to champion British businesses by providing:
Capital: Money to spend
Implementing growth plans – which might mean hiring more staff, buying new machinery, making acquisitions or diversifying into new areas – requires capital. But not all entrepreneurs can or want to self-fund their expansion plans, particular if it means laying down millions of pounds upfront at additional risk to their personal finances or assets. And – realising the importance of being adequately capitalised – not all entrepreneurs can or want to build their businesses on debt alone.
BGF has the express purpose of providing growing companies with a different type of funding option: long-term, patient (meaning no forced exit) capital in exchange for a minority stake.
Connections: Access to senior, experienced business men and women
One of the concerns we hear time and again from entrepreneurs relates to the lack of access to strategic support and advice – ideally from someone who carries the battle scars of business and has come out the other side, with ambitions to help others succeed. The biggest barrier, they say, is in gaining access to these people.
Knowing this, BGF has created a talent network of more than 3,000 of the UK’s most successful business people. We show chief executives the breadth of our network and help them pick out two or three people to meet based on their specific brief. So far, we’ve helped over 80 of our investee companies find the right person for their business.
Confidence: to shine
With capital and connections, comes confidence. There’s a lot to admire in entrepreneurs: they’re the visionaries and the risk-takers and their success depends on having a robust support infrastructure. We want encourage our investee companies to continue doing what they’re doing. And we’re doing that not just through financial backing, but by creating a network of entrepreneurs that matter; who are building the businesses that matter and the relationships that count.