Financing your start-up: Scottish Investment Bank

November 18, 2014

Yvonne McLaren-Robertson, Financial Readiness Specialist at the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), looks at what funding opportunities are available to young creative businesses and how SIB can help…


Starting your own business is a daunting prospect. Most of us will never be faced with this, but for a growing number of budding entrepreneurs, it is indeed a leap of faith. Gone is the regular salary and in its place a whole lot of unknowns. And also a lot of bills! But what it also brings is boundless opportunity.

In my role as a Financial Readiness Specialist at the Scottish Investment Bank, I guide founders and management teams through the process of securing finance for a variety of reasons. Sometimes its expansion or a product development programme, but often it’s the finance package required simply to get the business up and running that is proving tricky to assemble.

I am often asked what the best piece of advice is that I can give to aspiring entrepreneurs, and even sometimes experienced entrepreneurs. The answer is quite simplegive your business the best chance of success by making sure that it is adequately funded.

That might sound easy for me to say as I sit on the other side of the desk, not risking my own money. The reality however, is that knowing the numbers is key to starting any business. Planning really is everything, and there are two things you need to know inside out:

  1. Your business plan
  2. How much money will be required to deliver it

A proper business plan and detailed (3 years minimum) profit and loss, cash flow and balance sheet is essential. Why? So that you can understand how much money you will require, and to help you consider where you might source this from. It’s also about getting your business into financially sound or ‘investor ready’ shape. Every business is different in terms of scale, product, customer, business model, growth ambitions. But one thing is certain- they will all need money!

There is a lot of really valuable support out there to help you get to a place where you are ready to apply for funding. Business Gateway is the best starting point.

As part of your preparation, it can be really helpful to sit down and talk things through with an impartial and experienced person to help you think clearly about what it is you actually need.

The role of my team is to help both early stage businesses and established small and medium enterprises with growth and export potential access the funding they need to meet their growth ambitions. In order to help, we need a business plan so that we can assess what sources of funding might be best suited to your needs and crucially, how you can maximise your chances of securing it.

Once you have a good idea of the direction in which you wish you take your business, we can help you get your business plan ‘investor ready’.  Then the hard work starts. There are a lot of potential funding avenues, from banks to business angels to larger investment funds. Public sector grants may also be part of the funding package if a gap remains. Armed with your business plan you can see the full picture and work out which route is right for you. And don’t forget to consider the needs of the funder – banks, investors and public sector agencies will all have to know firstly what you are asking them for, and secondly why they should give it to you. These basic principles apply regardless of the sector you are operating in.

The first stage is to get your vision down on paper and then we can start to look at the best options for you. If you think your business is in need of a helping hand or you’re interested in finding out more about funding opportunities, please get in touch.

The Scottish Investment Bank is the investment arm of Scotland’s economic development agencies. Working as part of Scottish Enterprise, they help businesses prepare to raise funding for growth, as well as operating a number of equity funds through which they co-invest with the private sector.

For more information, call us on 0845 607 8787 or visit our website.

Case study  – how SIB helped Dundee-based software company Allthings secure seed investment

Yvonne McLaren-Robertson

Yvonne1Over the past 15 years she has worked with early stage business looking to grow and develop in Scotland. She has particular experience in fund raising for these early stage ventures. Particularily those seeking to bring in business angel equity. She was part of the Business Ventures High Growth Start Up team based in Glasgow , working with young start up companies . She then joined Targeting Innovation as part of the management team with responsibility for High Growth Start-Up. Yvonne is now part of the Financial Readiness team at the Scottish Investment Bank (Part of Scottish Enterprise). She works with young and entrepreneurial companies and existing Account Managed portfolio –generally those who are seeking to raise funding. She is also one of the gatekeepers to the Scottish Seed Fund – an equity based fund that matches business angel equity up to the value of £250,000.