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  1. No matter how liberal you may consider yourself to be, if you run your own business then most decisions will more than likely be okayed by you and you alone. That is, however, unless you’re a member of a co-operative. Unlike the entrepreneur-led majority of contemporary businesses, co-operatives are comprised of a group of like-minded individuals or institutions who all have a say in the everyday dealings of the business. So, how do the two models stack up? At Gener8 Finance, we decided to compile a useful guide to help you find out.

    Two heads are better than one
    By analysing your options and their potential outcomes as a group, you could argue that mistakes are more likely to be spotted and rash decisions less likely to be taken thanks to a co-operative model.

    Who knows best?

    Did you ever hear the phrase that a camel is a horse designed by a committee? Sometimes, an individual needs to be in charge because they know and understand the business better than anyone else. Much like too many cooks spoiling the broth, co-operatives can run the risk of having their priorities pulled in too many different directions.

    Staff motivation
    Co-operatives usually employ a profit share scheme that entitles all employees to a share of the company’s profits. This can help to motivate staff, increase productivity and reduce excessive wastage.

    Risk and consequence
    It is sometimes necessary to take a few risks in the business world if you wish to be successful. Potentially lucrative, higher-risk strategies are unlikely to be okayed by the fellow directors of a co-operative...

    Philanthropy
    While selfless entrepreneurs can be very philanthropic once their ship has come in, co-operatives have philanthropy sewn into their very makeup, meaning they can help people right from the get-go.

    The downside of democracy
    The directors of a co-operative are democratically elected thanks to a voting process. However, as we often seen in the world of politics, sometimes the best candidate doesn’t get elected, and at other times, it can feel as though there are no adequate leaders to choose from at all.

    Whatever your preferred choice of business model, ensuring your company’s success will often come down to effective cash flow management. Whether you’re looking to expand or are faced with long payment terms, financial assistance needn’t come with a high price tag or an impersonal service. Why not take a look at our invoice financing and credit management services and see how we could help your business?
  2. Ask many influential businesspeople about their success and they’ll likely attribute it to a number of important factors. Determination is a common trait among entrepreneurs, as is self-belief, but perhaps the most crucial attribute for those hoping to make a go of it in business is a good head for risks.

    During the course of your career in business, you’ll be required to make numerous choices about the direction in which your company should move, and the result of these decisions will determine whether your business is a success or a failure. Right from the get-go, you’ll be faced with options over where you want to locate, which staff members you’re going to hire, the scale of your business premises and when to expand your operations, any one of which can act as a financial boon or a grievous error; it’s all a bit of a dice-roll, really.

    Business is all about understanding the risks that your company is likely to encounter ahead of time, and knowing how to respond to them when they inevitably do occur. Adequate risk assessment means planning ahead, ensuring that your processes and employees are safe, compliant and productive and taking out appropriate insurance policies to guarantee that you aren’t caught out if things do go wrong.

    While it is prudent to be as risk-averse as possible when it comes to safety and professional practice, there are other areas of business where a gambler’s instincts will do entrepreneurs no harm at all. To a certain extent, everyone must go out on a limb in order to grow their business from its original foundations. Expansion requires businesses to take a gamble as it’s not a cheap undertaking; however, it’s true that you must speculate to accumulate, and if a good opportunity comes your way, you need to know when the time is right to take it or if it would be better to let it pass you by.

    Fortunately, Gener8 Finance appreciates the risks that businesses must take to achieve their goals, and is here to help expanding businesses keep their heads above water. Taking on more clients means that you’ll be raking in more profits, but it can also mean that your business becomes overstretched, particularly if those clients are tardy with their invoice payments or if you’re subject to long payment terms. Our invoice finance services can give you the capital you need to stay solvent while your clients come up with the cash, and our credit management service can take the pressure of chasing up that money off you so that you can concentrate on preparing for the next month’s trade.
  3. We appreciate that expanding your business can be scary. There are many risks involved, particularly for small businesses without the umbrella of protection offered by a big parent company, but there are also a lot of benefits as well. Here is a brief rundown of some of the things you can expect as you look to grow your business.

    Exposure
    You’ll attract more clients, your market presence will become more robust, and word of mouth will spread. This is an exponential process: if you can handle the demand, expect to see more and more business come your way as your reputation builds.

    Scrutiny
    With exposure comes analysis. As you become better known, people will expect more quality and consistency from your goods or services. Beware: a mistake that would barely register for a small company can destroy a household name.

    Presence
    As word gets around about your business, expect to become more present in people’s minds as well as on web pages. Think of the ubiquitous companies like Macdonald’s or Tesco, and those who have become generic such as Mackintosh raincoats.

    Diversity
    As your business grows, expect to need more staff; you won’t be able to keep up with demand if you don’t diversify. You may find yourself hiring personnel for job roles that simply didn’t exist when your company was just starting out.

    Property
    Growth is a physical process as well; you’re going to need somewhere to put all those new staff or produce all that newly-desirable merchandise. It’s a financial gamble, but an essential step if you want to make a go of it in business.

    Revenue
    This is what you’re in it for, after all. If everything goes to plan, your expansive business will be attracting increased custom, and your fast-improving reputation will ensure that your goods and services will be worth more to the clients you wish to attract.

    High stakes
    The bigger they are, the harder they fall. It’s a long way to the top and undoubtedly a long way to fall if things don’t go to plan, but no-one ever achieves anything without rolling the dice a few times. Take the gamble because the potential rewards are certainly worth the risks.

    Gener8 Finance is committed to helping growing companies achieve their dreams. Whereas other invoice providers may charge a percentage of annual turnover, we instead work with fixed price finance products. This allows you to know exactly what you’ll be paying as long as you stay within your facility parameters. It’s just one of the ways we’re better than our competitors. Contact us to find out more about our invoice finance and credit management facilities.
  4. THE BIG IDEA!
    A spark or a thunderbolt. That moment of “Oh my god! How has no one thought of that before? It’s so obvious.” Spending an evening making sure it hasn’t actually been done before. Researching the market, calculating profitability, creating a 3-year projection followed by days and days of shrewd plotting. Friends worry for your sanity, as at dinners and get-togethers you explode from pensive silence to intensely scribble notes onto a tattered piece of paper that you keep with you at all times.

    CONCEPTION
    Coming up with a clever business name, preferably involving a pun (see “A Cut Above” hairdressers and “Tanfastic” solarium). Investing all of your money then begging, stealing or borrowing the rest. Making lots of promises to family members. Long hours. Stress. Struggle. Micromanage.

    Advertising budget: £100

    POTENTIAL
    Spend too much money commissioning a website from a design agency ran by a bearded twenty-something. He probably knocked the thing together in a day. SEO. PPC. Buying books on e-commerce and marketing. Identifying an opportunity to expand. A happy skip to the bank. Gasp at the high interest rates for small business loans; listen to non-committal grunts from the loan officer. A dejected trudge away from the bank.

    EUREKA!
    You find an alternative. Whether it’s through a business or property loan, factoring or invoice discounting, you’re able to raise the capital you need to take your business to the next level. You buy extra assets, become more productive, increase your client base and expand. Sponsor a local football club. Improve brand values.

    Advertising budget: £5,000.

    EXPANSION
    Aggressive takeovers of local rivals. Delegate. Become a PLC. Call centres in India. The positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer are no longer held by the same person. Work less, earn more. A nationally recognised brand. An interview with the Financial Times. Give money to charity and local causes. Hobnob with the political elite. Market leader.

    Advertising budget: £275,000.

    COMPLETE MARKET MONOPOLY
    Become a genericised trademark. Offshore accounts in tax haven countries. Student protests outside Head Office. Sponsor a Premier League football club. The Sunday Times 100 rich list. On the cover of Forbes magazine. Buy an island.

    Advertising budget: £10,000,000.
  5. If you’re starting a new business there is one thing that is just as important as hard work and industry knowledge: money. These are five things an extra cash injection can provide to help you successfully get your business off the ground.

    Property
    The fact is shops cannot sell, barbers cannot cut, and restaurants cannot feed unless there is a place where it can all happen. Whether you’re on the high street or a back street, get the finance you need to lay down the welcome mat that gets customers through the door.

    Publicity
    If you build it, they will come. But first, they have to know it exists. While it might be said that there is no such thing as bad publicity, there is definitely such a thing as good publicity. Business finance can help you implement an eye-catching advertising campaign to let the world know you’ve set up shop.

    Tools
    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give him the means to buy a sunbed or two and he can open a tanning salon that will allow him to feed his family for years to come and keep the community nicely bronzed. If your business needs expensive equipment, asset finance will make sure you aren’t left in the dark.

    Independence
    Sometimes a prospective business partner has insight and contacts that can help you succeed. And sometimes they are just someone you have to put up with because you need their funding. If you have what it takes to run a business on your own, don’t let a lack of cash flow stop you – get the finance to do it by yourself.

    Focus
    Your first few months running a business need to be focused on making it thrive, not just survive. If you are worrying about how you’re going to pay bills at the end of the month, you might be inclined to cut corners here and there. While this might work in the short term, it’s not the best way to start a business. Use clever ways of managing your finances to ensure you give your business the best start in life, and you can then look forward to growing old together.
  6. So you've got a world-beating idea and the business plan to back it up, but the bank offers extortionate rates or point-blank refuses your application. Do you take the hit or give up? Think again and read on.

    You might think that the banks are the only option small businesses have for finance, but you'd be wrong. There are in fact many companies devoted to getting your plan off the ground, and these focused financers and lenders could prove to be a far better option. Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs are turning their backs on the banks and getting the assistance they need from these specialised companies. So why are these lenders right for you? Here are three reasons why:

    1. Specialisation
    These lenders know what they're talking about. When you want something done properly, you go to a specialist. Why should small business loans be any different?

    2. Flexibility
    With a close working relationship comes the ability to keep up with your growing business. You could be restricted by your bank, but a commercial finance company is always there to give you an extra boost when needed.

    3. Competition
    Brokers are good for business. When you go to a bank, you have to prove yourself, but wouldn't it be great if lenders had to compete for your business? That's what it's like using a broker – they find you the best deal possible.

    The banks simply can't compete with these benefits. You're always going to be a name rather than a face, which means your business isn't getting exactly what it needs. So before you go to the banks to fund your growth, see what the smaller, more personal finance companies can do for you. It could be the best thing you ever do for your business.
  7. The money tree has been growing ever since the first coin changed hands. That first coin was soon lost down the back of an Ancient Greek sofa, but the idea was the seed that grew the tree. People prospered along with their new system of money, and the branches of man's family were richly hung with leaves of every currency.

    This is of course a rather flowery metaphor intended to illustrate the connection between human progress and the monetary system. It serves as an example of how words work – by painting pictures that connect together separate thoughts. Where money is concerned, sometimes words can conjure lucrative ideas. And no, we don't mean “Abracadabra”.

    So if you plan to plumb the wisdom of words in your quest for financial success, here are five top timeless tips that should always be on your lips, along with some more modern advice to keep everything fresh and relevant.

    1. Hard work never hurt anyone.
    ...just make sure you always bend at the knees.

    2. Don’t count your eggs until they’ve hatched.
    …unless you sell eggs. Then you should definitely not count them if they have hatched.

    3. You need one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
    ...so keep deodorant handy, or no one will do business with you.

    4. One in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    ...and one at the checkout is worth two looking in the shop window.

    5. A fool and his money are soon parted.
    …So if the email comes from Nigeria, click delete.

    If you've followed all these steps, you should now be well on your way to riches and wealth. But I sense some of you dragging your heels. What is that, you mutter? Money doesn't grow on trees? Ah, but this saying is a lie. You've never seen money grow on trees, but only because someone else got there first!
  8. You’ve researched your idea, you’ve got your small business finance and you’ve handed in your notice. But that’s not all you need to start a small business. You may have the greatest business idea in the world, but if no one else is interested then your business will go bust.

    To really make moolah, you need to choose the Out There option. Come up with that genius concept that no one else has thought of and you could be in the money!

    The UK’s biggest businessmen all started small, so for all you Alan Sugars, Richard Bransons and yes, even Clive Sinclairs out there - here are the top ten weird business ideas that worked!

    1. Divorce cakes
    This cakey concept tapped into the zeitgeist with baked goods! Fay Millar made her first divorce cake in 2001 and she’s been up to her eyes in orders for her ‘separation celebration’ confectionary ever since. Her success has inspired other unusual cake makers to set up shop and today hundreds of bakers offer Divorce Cakes.

    2. Million Dollar Pixels
    21-year-old Alex Tew had exactly the right idea at exactly the right time when he launched the genius ‘Million Dollar Homepage’. His simple concept was to sell pixels on his homepage for $1 each. The idea was a huge hit and made student Alex his millions. Copycat sites sprung up all over the net but none was as successful because the selling point of the Million Dollar Homepage was its originality.

    3. The Venting Place
    Only the Japanese could have come up with this eccentric idea and made it work! Shoppers in a busy mall can stop off mid shop to smash plates against concrete slabs and vent their spleens. Crockery costs from around a pound for smaller items, to £7 for large plates. The Venting Place has been so successful that plans for a franchise are afoot.

    4. Say it with T Shirts
    Katharine Hamnett made slogan T-shirts massive in the 1980’s. What started out as political protest became a worldwide phenomenon that is still going strong. The first slogan T-shirts were sold in 1983 with a percentage of the sales going to charity. Today, millions of people sport slogan T-shirts every day and Hamnett is a household name.

    5. You’ve Got Santa Mail
    This Christmas cash-in concept has proved a festive success selling letters from Santa. Parents can order personalised letters, Good List certificates and even texts from Santa. Since its birth in 2003, Santa Mail has delighted over 200,000 children making a mint for the shrewd Santa impersonator.

    So if you’re about to embark on your small business journey, never forget that oak trees grow from acorns and see if you can come up with that weird little business idea that could grow into a massive success.
  9. Some of the world’s most recognisable brands started out as small businesses and though they surely believed they could earn a living, they chose not to take out small business loans on the strength of their ideas. These businesses started in garages, on local library computers, or from a spare bedroom.

    With the right kind of attitude, a big dose of ambition, and a pinch of luck some of these companies that started out with next to nothing grew to be multi million pound enterprises which are recognised worldwide. Here are four of the best.

    Apple
    Famously Apple, the owners of ubiquitous iPods, iPhones, iMacs and iPads, began their mission to world domination in a garage where Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs built a personal computer. The pair was so skint that when the first order came in for one of their systems they had to order the components on credit. These days the Apple brand is one of the most recognised on the planet and the company nets billions of pounds in profit each year.

    Starbucks
    There is barely a city in the world that has escaped the Starbucks revolution. Seattle in the early 70s saw three coffee lovers pool their resources to open a shop with little over $1000. Admittedly, they did have to take out a $5000 small business loan a few months in but every struggling moment was worth it. By the 1990s, Starbucks shops were opening at a rate of one per day.

    Subway
    Another little enterprise that grew to be one of the biggest fast food chains on the high street. At 17 years old, Fred DeLuca set up a little sandwich shop to help pay his med school fees. He borrowed $1000 from a friend. They planned to expand the business over a ten year period, and expand they did. Subway now has more locations worldwide than McDonalds – estimated at around 34,000 in 98 countries.

    Mattel
    If you don’t recognise the name of the business, you’ll certainly know about Mattel’s biggest export: Barbie. The company started in the home of Ruth and Eliot Handler who used scraps of leftover wood from their picture-framing business to make doll’s houses. This was the first step towards them becoming the driving force behind every little girl’s favourite toy. Mattel is now the world’s largest toy company.

    So there you have it: your little dose of inspiration. If they can do it, so can you.
  10. Thirty years on from its inception, the WWE is a global leader in the entertainment industry. Millions of viewers all over the world tune in weekly, and the combination of pay-per-views, advertising and merchandise mean that turnover is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Billionaire owner Vince McMahon is responsible for this huge success. Growth from a small-time wrestling promotion to a household brand has taken hard work. What is this success built upon?

    Trends

    Following trends has kept the WWE at the top of its game - McMahon has always ensured that up-to-date technology is used, from the introduction of satellite television, to high-definition broadcast. Vince says: ‘We do have our finger on the pulse of the marketplace, if for no other reasons than having all these live events and listening to our audience all the time.’

    Hard Work

    ‘I guess maybe another gift I have is a great work ethic.’
    Known for being constantly involved in the running of his company, McMahon’s hard work and relentless pursuit of growth has certainly paid off. Growth can be expensive, but it’s the best way to ensure your company’s continuing success.

    Fans

    The WWE is built on its fans. Without them, the business wouldn’t run, and McMahon is fully aware of this. McMahon says: ‘We love our fans, so there's nothing we wouldn't do for them, and we go directly to them.’ Whilst you might not think your business has fans, think instead about your loyal customer base. If you can value them as more than just a paycheque, they’ll be able to tell – and ironically, will be more willing to spend as a result.

    It seems as though these are obvious foundations for good business, but Vince McMahon and the WWE are proof that they work. Hard work is undoubtedly the main influence on success, but putting the fans first is vital in the entertainment business. Many would also agree that McMahon’s advice is applicable to any company.
  11. When a business is in its early stages one of the biggest financial outlays that the fledgling business owner has to think about is the cost of covering premises. The risk of signing a lease for premises can be massive if the business initially fails to make enough income to cover costs. That’s not enough reason to be disheartened when thinking about starting a business though.

    Many successful businesses have started without premises of their own. Extraordinarily it is not just office-based businesses or traditional home businesses that have managed to thrive without a door of their own. Restaurants, bars, retails shops, and art galleries are all examples of businesses which have dodged a bullet and sailed through the first few months of starting out without the burden of paying rent. These are some popular ideas for a travelling business.

    Pop-up Restaurants

    The idea started with supper-club type events, but has grown to be a viable business for many organisers. Rather than hosting guests in their own home, chefs and vent organisers organise dinners and entertainment for as many as 100 people in temporary premises. They might use a disused shop, a library, or a church hall. The point is that it is possible to present a successful dining event and still deliver great results without paying rent, and the locations can be an added attraction.

    Travelling Bar

    Alcoholic drinks are lucrative business. The British public know how to clear out the contents of a bar, and if the bar will come to them that can only be a bonus. Along the same lines as a pop-up restaurant, travelling bars will open at premises around the city, often with only a temporary events license which allows the sale of alcohol. It is a less common concept that the restaurant, but bear in mind that there’s no need for a kitchen, and a lot less mess to clean up.

    Event Management


    One of the delights of working in a field like events management is that much of your work can be done from home; all you need is a laptop. Of course, you’ll also need an excellent contacts book and a strong brand. Even providing a catering service is viable without your own kitchen. Pubs, schools, and community centres usually have kitchens which are not in use for a good chunk of the week. Ask about using their kitchen on an ad-hoc basis and you’re almost certain to get a great response.

    There are some differences to running a remote, or travelling business. The most important aspect is that you have great contact links; if it’s not possible to visit your premises then your clients need to know where to find you. A great website will also go a long way to promoting your business and to bring in new clients.

    The take-away point is this: don’t let a lack of immediate finance hold your business back. There are ways and means around every obstacle (and factoring can be one of them!)
  12. When you first get started in business, you tend to find yourself working long days and climbing a steep learning curve. New businesses are vulnerable businesses, and those first weeks and months can be difficult and stressful, although they bring huge rewards too.

    Once your business is established you can afford to slow down a little. Life can become less chaotic and you can start to take some time for yourself and your family, rather than being on a constant work-sleep-work treadmill. It is vital though, that in slowing down, you don’t step back. You might not need to work quite so hard now, but you do need to work just as sharp.

    Businesses survive when they are sustainably profitable. When you first start a business, you look to banks and grant-making bodies to help you get started. That initial finance is vital, but it is just the start. Use that to get going, but then get down to keeping your cash flowing and your profits healthy. Here are five essential things you need to know in order to get this right.

    1. Keep the cash coming

    Remember that there is a difference between profit and cash flow. Profitable businesses can go under if they don’t manage their cash flow effectively. A large client not paying up on time can damage young businesses irreparably. You could benefit from using an invoice financing service to keep the money coming in month-to-month, leaving you free to concentrate on making a profit.

    2. Understand marketing...properly

    Many new business owners hate working on their marketing. If you’re a specialist in your field, then that’s what you want to work on: marketing can seem like an unwelcome distraction. That’s understandable, but it is a huge mistake. It doesn’t matter how good your product is. It is not going to sell itself. Concentrate on building a campaign around your product: tell people why they need it, or they’ll never know.

    3. Don’t try and grow too fast

    Grow slowly and sustainably. Only expand if you are sure you can do so without putting the core business in jeopardy. Expanding too soon could mean uncompleted orders, a lot of irate ex-customers, and no business.

    4. Don’t relax

    Take every opportunity you can to keep your business healthy. Follow up every sales lead, research new products and make contacts whenever you can.

    5. Relax

    Your business is more likely to stay healthy if you do too. When you can, hand over some tasks to trusted employees. You’ll work out who these people are as time goes on. Use the time you save to relax and recharge. Everyone needs a rest sometimes: even you.
  13. It has long been the tradition in many industries, such as textiles, to use an invoice factoring company in order to quickly get a cash injection without having to get a loan. However, many people think that selling off receivables is scraping the bottom of the barrel when trying to keep a business going. Why else would a company sacrifice a chunk of what their customers owe? In fact, invoice financing can be a great way of growing a business.

    One great advantage is that a business who uses invoice financing is not stuck with owed debts for a long period of time – the transaction happens once, and it is then up to the customers to pay. A bank loan could be with them for years.

    When a business needs cash, they need it now, and this is definitely true when it comes to growth. Customers can take a long time to pay. With invoice financing, the money is there in an instant, ready to be used on anything from advertising to stock, or something else entirely. Another bonus to the speed of the process is that often, the factoring company doesn't need to look into the credit history of the business; instead, they look at the customers and their ability to pay.

    For those with a good head for finance, planning and organisation is hugely important. This can be difficult though, when the company isn't sure exactly when customers are going to pay. This problem is solved by selling receivables, because the money comes in exactly when it's wanted, in one instalment. Great for keeping things in order.

    So for companies that need a quick boost to their cash flow, and like to keep things nice and regular, factoring could be great for business. It's quicker, much less of a hassle and potentially more flexible than a bank loan.