If you can keep your head when all around are losing theirs...

As we head towards a General Election next May, uncertainty surrounding business support and funding for businesses seems to be growing. Numbers are being defended and attacked.

Much is being written and spoken about Tesco’s amended profits, public debt levels, employment and start up enterprise statistics and value for the Government’s money, the future of LEPs and their funding streams, talks on creating larger combined authorities - all leading to a growing level of uncertainty. 

The good news appears to me to be that much of this is being ignored by businesses that are looking to grow and seek finance.  Many are managing to keep their heads, no matter what all around them are doing.

In truth, there probably has never been a better time to seek finance.  In addition to the banks there are now so many alternative and additional forms of finance available to businesses.  Peer lending, local loan and equity schemes, loans from Community Development Finance Institutions like ART (Aston Reinvestment Trust) and even, for the time being, grant schemes funded by national pots of money as well as European funding.  

A viable proposition and realistic expectations are the main requirements when seeking to access finance.  If you have those and are willing to treat your funder as more of a partner than a liability, you are likely to succeed.  Increasingly packages of finance, which include the banks alongside some of these alternative and additional sources are becoming the norm.

So no matter what happens in the months ahead – and it is certain that many more numbers will be bandied about and much discussion will accrue – my advice to businesses is: be sure that your own numbers are accurate, hold your vision and carry on.

Dr Steve Walker is Chief Executive of ART (Aston Reinvestment Trust).  He has been a champion of access to finance for enterprise throughout the UK and overseas for many years and has advised the Government on access to finance.