Belfast Telegraph

Work smarter... business event to showcase routes to success

By Debbie Orme

Funding a business used to be a simple case of approaching family or friends, or a visit to the bank manager.

Like so much else in business today, that's all changed, and financial help for entrepreneurs and others takes many forms, one of which will be right for you and your business. At the outset, your choice will be influenced by how much control of your business you're willing to relinquish, before choosing the most appropriate source.

Business loans

Business loans from banks are appropriate for those who do not want to give up any control of their business. Some banks will offer a fixed rate option, so you can budget for the loan repayments.

The bank will look at your past accounts and your current balance sheet, as well as your future forecasts and plans, and then determine the credit risk that your business presents.

Angel investors

As experts in their fields, angel investors can offer ongoing support, management expertise and badly needed capital.

They will, however, want to be involved in the business. The key benefit of angel investors is that they understand the importance of keeping money in a business during the start-up months and so will not usually seek any remittance until the business is profitable.

After that, most will want at least a 20% annual return.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept, but one that is rapidly growing in popularity. It literally means sourcing funds from a crowd: you could, for example, be put in contact with 100,000 like-minded people, who each want to invest £10 in your company.

Crowdfunding has been described as 'democratic finance', allowing businesses and projects access to money without having to go to traditional banking institutions.

These are just a few of the many options, which range from hundreds of pounds (e.g. The Prince's Trust) to millions (e.g. Invest NI, InterTrade Ireland). You can talk to them all at the Smart Business Show, Odyssey Arena, Belfast on May 29 and May 30 – see www.smartbusinessshow.com for details.

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