Personal Finance | 24 November 2023

Six ways to grasp the opportunities when scaling your business

Franklin Asante, Head of Entrepreneurs at Coutts, explains the unique challenges and opportunities facing high-growth entrepreneurs as they scale their businesses.

Starting a business is a huge task, but for many entrepreneurs the real challenge lies in tackling the next stage of growth after steadying the ship. Scaling up to create a unique and competitive offering can bring rapid growth, as well as a unique set of hurdles that can be difficult to overcome.

Having worked with some amazing founders and their businesses, I’ve been fortunate to support them through crucial challenges and opportunities. Each one can be a pivot point – so here are the big ones.

Bring in the right talent at the right time

One of the biggest obstacles is attracting and retaining the right talent. As businesses grow quickly, the pool of qualified employees can seem limited and the competition for top talent intensifies, with other ambitious firms in competition for the same coveted hires. Businesses need to invest substantially in recruitment, training, development and retention programmes to ensure their colleagues have the requisite skills and motivations to meet their evolving needs.

Many founders struggle to transition from the startup stage to managing a larger team. So culture, process and management structure need to stay flexible alongside your growth – you want to empower as well as encourage responsibility. Equally, staying true to the core mission and values that inspired the original journey will help you keep the agile and opportunistic mindset of a startup.

Operations, operations, operations

As a business grows, infrastructure and systems need to keep growing with it. That can be challenging because it requires coordination and planning to ensure everything works together seamlessly. If companies fail to invest in new infrastructure because they do not have the time or resources, it can lead to inefficiencies and frustration among employees. Companies seeking high growth also often face the challenge of having to recalibrate their operations to capture moving market opportunities. That in itself is difficult enough, but if not done correctly CEOs risk further disruption.

Find the right finance for your growth

Funding and finance can be among the hardest growth aspects to manage. One way which could help fund growth is through borrowing. However, debt should be structured and flexible enough so it doesn’t overtly impact your cash flow. Another solution could be to raise capital through the sale of shares. This approach can dilute the ownership of the business and, understandably, founders may not want to relinquish control unduly. More nuanced share issuing can bring in minority equity investors, allowing you to plan out funding rounds in step with your value growth – and keep ownership and direction in your hands.

A good investment partner should know the importance of matching the finance to a clear purpose and time horizon – growing mutual value, not simply taking up equity. Ultimately, it’s about balance and planning through a range of options to make sure your growth runway is financed throughout – assuring investors as well as customers.

New markets need new approaches

Expanding into new markets can be crucial for high-growth companies but moving too fast without understanding the sector, the region or the regulations can be disastrous. High-growth markets also tend to attract lots of competition, making it harder to acquire market share.

Entrepreneurs may find that demand in new markets is not as strong as expected. Marketing can be difficult when entering unfamiliar territory, so hiring people with local knowledge is crucial. Navigating diverse regulatory environments across markets also requires significant legal and compliance efforts.

“Our service revolves around bringing our financial expertise and networks to fully support the growth journey of our clients.”

Franklin Asante, Head of Entrepreneurs at Coutts

Stay cutting edge

With digital disruption transforming business, embracing technologies like artificial intelligence and big data analytics has become vital for many entrepreneurs to help keep them ahead of the curve. You might have the tech embedded from the start as your USP – but it has to stay relevant and competitive. Making sure you’re thinking outside the box and engaging with partners in a constructive way that can multiply your offering and abilities can be crucial.

Similarly, sustainability and social responsibility have emerged as priorities for consumers and investors alike. Responsibility can support your purpose but can also underpin your profit route, so understanding that opportunity, and how broader investment models are changing to support sustainability, is important.

The importance of a proactive partner

At Coutts, we help entrepreneurs looking to raise capital by introducing them to potential investors through the Coutts Investment Club. Alongside providing capital , our clients can also bring their network, experience and sector insight to support the growth journey of the businesses we work with.

Importantly, this service isn’t just available to companies owned by our clients but to any business that meets our criteria. Businesses we’ve been able to help flourish include drone data provider SenSat, med-tech company Lightpoint Medical and software developer nDreams.

In addition, we have access to NatWest’s accelerator hubs, which have helped thousands of entrepreneurs scale up their businesses. We have also had great success with our UK Enterprise Fund, enabling clients to co-invest alongside BGF Group, the UK’s leading growth-stage investor.

BGF provides capital but also works with high-growth businesses in other areas, including building talent and supporting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations.

Jane Vinson, Head of Value Creation at BGF, says: “We’ve designed the value creation programme to share the experience, knowledge and contacts that exist within BGF’s network with the management teams of portfolio companies. By providing relevant introductions, information and content, our intention is to further support growth and value creation in a way that’s additive and helpful.”

If you would like to find out more about how Coutts can support your business and find ways to manage your personal finances, please get in touch.

The value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up, and you may not recover the amount of your original investment.

Eligibility criteria apply for Coutts. Advice and product fees may apply. Credit is subject to status and approval. Over 18s only.

The UK Enterprise Fund and Coutts Investment Club are a high risk investments and subject to strict eligibility criteria. Investors may not recover the amount of their original investment and are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.


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