Disruptors: Maximising your growth potential

From an idea to a scalable business, a panel of speakers at TheBusinessDesk.com’s Disruptors conference brought to life some of the key areas of focus for companies to maximise growth and value potential.

The conference was hosted by Nexus in Leeds and sponsored by BHPClarion and SPG.

On the panel, which was chaired by Andy Haigh of Translink Corporate Finance, were Jonathan Sims and Sue Streatfield – both partners at Clarion – Nick Washbourne, of Force24, and Matthew Briggs, of AU Limitless Global.

Briggs said too many entrepreneurs and early stage businesses which are keen to expand lack focus and are too quick to jump to the “next shiny thing”.

“You should understand the problem you’re solving and stay focused on that – which doesn’t mean you can’t be agile,” he said.

“And you should surround yourself with the best people you can afford, define your strategy, execute relentlessly and stick within your strategic arrow.”

He added business managers who are struggling to grow their enterprises should not be afraid to seek external advice.

“It’s always good to have an independent viewpoint and it is best to have someone advising who isn’t emotionally wedded to the business,” he said.

Washbourne had his own words of advice for firms which decide to maximise their potential by raising equity finance.

“You need to start preparing early pre-deal and you must understand how your role is going to change,” he said. “It won’t be your business in the same way anymore and that can be difficult.

“Post investment, when you have lots of cash and you’re wanting to accelerate fast, it can be painful if you bring in senior hires and they’re not the right fit for the business.

“When the money comes in and you think you need senior talent, you need to do due diligence and it’s really important to keep hold of your core talent.”

Streatfield said businesses seeking outside financial backing should be aware that potential investors are particularly interested in companies which have protected their intellectual property.

“If you own your IP you can stop other companies competing against you, giving you a huge advantage which is very attractive to investors,” she explained.

Expanding on IP’s role in making the most of a company’s potential, she pointed out: “You can use IP in different ways. It’s like owning a house – you can use it yourself or allow someone else to use it and they pay you for the license. Or you can use IP as security for a loan.

“It is always worth considering whether you have IP and whether you’re maximising its commercial value. It’s about protecting what you have created.”

Also picking up on the topic of gaining external funding, Sims said: “You need to make sure you have the right funding partner.

“Talk to other businesses which have invested with that partner. You have to be happy with who you’re in bed with.”

Sims addressed how firms can retain their valuable talented staff in a difficult labour market.

“Talk to the people at your business, ask them where they are in their life journey and ask what you can offer in terms of incentivisation,” he said.

“There’s always going to be someone who can pay more. Which is why you need to give your people a chance to succeed and grow, as if they are a partner in the business.”