SME Funding – Is It Really That Difficult To Raise?

According to recent findings by the British Chambers of Commerce, nearly half (49%) of SMEs surveyed find it increasingly difficult to secure funding, with cash flow being the primary reason for seeking finance. But why?

As a lender we have never faced stronger competitive headwinds, not only from traditional invoice finance lenders, but non-bank loan providers, tech-based hybrid working capital providers and the like. From a lender’s perspective it seems to us that business owners have never had more choice, when it comes to funding.

What’s going on?

We talk about funding SMEs, but the term covers a very broad church. The Government currently defines Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as follows:

Size of Business Staff Headcount Annual Turnover Balance Sheet Total
Medium Under 250 Under €50m Under €43m
Small Under 50 Under €10m Under €10m
Micro Under 10 Under €2m Under €2m

According to official statistics from gov.uk:

Although these statistics are somewhat dated now, I can’t believe the optics will have changed significantly over the last 3 years.

We know that many SMEs are facing economic challenges, making it essential for them to have access to reliable financial support. While confidence in the business community is cautiously growing generally, there are still high levels of business failures, and the evidence suggests that HMRC are taking a less lenient approach to arrears and Time To Pay arrangements.

When we meet under-pressure business owners who say to us that they didn’t realise Invoice Finance existed as a product, we still scratch our heads.

There are so many funding options available to business owners at any stage in the business lifecycle, as a quick scroll through LinkedIn will demonstrate. Invoice Finance is (obviously) a fantastic solution for funding working capital. There are also some great non-bank lenders out there, including a nationwide network of Regional Community Development Finance Institutions, providing loans to businesses where the main banks can’t assist.

In the West Midlands alone we are lucky enough to have ART and BCRS Business Loans, in addition to other non-bank regional lenders such as Frontier Development Capital and UKSE. On the business start-up front, Biz Britain are a national delivery partner of the Start Up Loans Scheme. These are the unsung heroes of the SME funding landscape and as a working capital funder, we work alongside them to deliver packaged funding solutions when the main banks cannot assist.

Of course, the fundamentals need to be there for any lender to assist a business: responsible directors, a viable business and a solid financial plan. This is sometimes where business owners let themselves down, through inadequate preparation and organisation, but in most cases, this can be overcome, with a good advisor by their side to guide them through the application process.

Access to finance is vital for the growth and sustainability of SMEs. The challenges highlighted by the research underscores the importance of reliable financial partners.

All we can do as lenders and advisors to business owners, is to keep banging the drum that support and funding is out there. The bottom line is that there are lots of great lenders about, who are only too willing to engage with business owners and their advisors, to find solutions.

Click here for more information about how FlexABL can support owner managed businesses, with a working capital borrowing requirement of up to £500k.

Empowering Conservation: Flexabl’s Donation to Misool Foundation in Indonesia

In a world where corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly vital, FlexABL has stepped up to make a meaningful difference. Recently, we made a significant contribution to the Misool Foundation, an organisation dedicated to safeguarding biodiverse reefs on Earth through the empowerment of local communities, in Indonesia. This partnership not only showcases FlexABL’s commitment to environmental conservation but also highlights the power of collaboration in creating positive change.

The Misool Foundation, situated in Indonesia, operates in one of the most ecologically diverse regions on the planet. Their mission transcends conventional conservation efforts by actively involving and empowering local communities in marine protection initiatives. By providing educational programs, sustainable livelihood opportunities, and fostering community engagement, the foundation strives to create a sustainable future where humans and nature coexist harmoniously.

One of our key investors was fortunate enough to visit Misool in 2023, to experience, first hand, the fantastic achievement and turnaround in the marine environment at Raj Ampat. He felt, going forward, we should try to help in some small way, as this project has made such a massive contribution over recent years to the area, people and their continued education to protect and save the planet.

FlexABL’s donation of laptops to the Misool Foundation aligns perfectly with both organisations’ values. These will serve as invaluable tools for the foundation’s community outreach programs, educational initiatives, and administrative tasks. With access to better technology, the Misool Foundation can enhance their efficiency, broaden their reach, and streamline their operations, ultimately maximising their impact on marine conservation efforts.

Jo Marlow from the Misool Foundation expressed her gratitude, saying:

“We were thrilled to receive the donation of laptops from FlexABL which will be repurposed for use by the Misool Foundation team in Indonesia. A well-equipped office is critical to support our suite of programmes that have been created to protect one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth. Thanks, FlexABL for your support.”

Misool Foundation’s office management team

But this partnership goes beyond a simple donation; it represents a shared vision of corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship. Our commitment to sustainability extends beyond this as we recognise the importance of minimising our environmental footprint and promoting eco-friendly practices throughout our operations. We hope through partnerships like this, other organisations leverage their resources and expertise, as many already do, to drive positive change and inspire others to do the same.

Be sure to check out the Misool Foundation here to see the great work they are doing to safeguard marine life. Also, keep a look out for further environmental and sustainable initiatives we have coming up!