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6 STEPS TO SCALING UP

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6 STEPS TO SCALING UP

Ben Cohen, Marketing Manager at UK Bond Network

Around half of start-ups fail within the first four years of being in business. And even those that succeed will have to work hard to achieve the annual growth in employees or turnover required to be called a ‘scale-up’.

While there is no fail-safe formula for securing 20 percent growth per year, following these 6 steps will help you to put your best foot forward and ensure you’re well positioned for growth.

  1. Consider your funding options

The 2008 recession saw banks dramatically scale down SME lending due to increased capital requirements and perceptions of risk. While the verdict is still out on whether the current economic climate will create a similar situation, it’s clear there’s some uncertainty ahead. On the one hand, the likes of Virgin Money are delaying entry into the market, but equally some feel that the Bank of England’s raft of policies will keep bank’s lending to smaller businesses.

During this period of doubt, growing businesses may find it more difficult to access traditional funding. But this doesn’t necessarily need to be a bad thing. They should take the opportunity to explore new avenues, such as alternative finance, that may actually provide a better fit for their business. UK Bond Network for example is able to provide between £500,000 and £4m business funding by matching SMEs with sophisticated investors.

In addition, it’s best to consider what form of investment suits your business. If your business is high-growth, do you really want to give away a stake in it? Carefully consider whether debt or equity funding would be most suitable and do some research into the propositions of a number of different providers.

  1. Learn from your mistakes and adapt to change

All businesses will make mistakes. It’s how you deal with these that will determine your future success.

When approaching investors, be transparent. Acknowledging errors made and learnings from these demonstrates maturity. Evidence your adaptability and trustworthiness by making clear the remedial actions that you have taken, and you will go some way towards turning a negative into a big positive.

Beyond this, be aware of the market and wider economy. Successful business plans take external factors into account and will adapt in response to these. Adopting a pragmatic approach early on will set you up to deal with turbulent market conditions in the future.

  1. Network, but for more than just business leads

The larger your network, the greater your pool of potential investors, clients, customers and partners. Getting the organisation’s name out there is critical for building customer demand – especially if launching a completely new product or service.

However, there is more to achieve from networking than just building a customer base. Aim to meet seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders who can mentor and offer advice. Investors look at the calibre of non-executive directors as an indication of the quality of guidance the business is receiving, so your mentors can go a long way to helping secure investment.

  1. Have the heart of a start-up, and the head of a seasoned multinational

There is a reason that your business survived past it’s infancy: it resonated with your market in some way. This might be because it was original; you took a risk and it paid off. Whatever it is, make sure it continues to be a fundamental element in your business.

Going forward, balance this element with carefully considered plans. As a start-up you have the benefit of agility, but the larger you grow, the further you have to fall from grace, so consider your development carefully.

  1. Hire the right people and let them flourish

For early-stage businesses, attracting and holding on to talented individuals is no mean feat. While your aim will be to hire exceptional people with the specialist skills required to push your organisation forward, nurturing a positive workplace culture is equally (if not more) important.

When building a team, balance enthusiastic young talent with experienced heads and encourage discussion and innovation. Don’t be afraid to delegate responsibility, share in successes and reward valued input. Your business has its own unique set of short- and long-term goals, and achieving them will be heavily dependent on not just the skills at your disposal, but your ability to effectively manage the people with those skills.

  1. Allow for flexibility in the structure of your business

All businesses work within frameworks. These govern physical aspects of the work environment, for example office space, or less tangible aspects of the business, such as its operating style. These frames need to be constantly assessed to ensure they still fit the business. Location, for example, should be regularly evaluated. Are your current headquarters fit for purpose and economically viable? Or would moving to another location reduce financial burden without damaging your business? Equally, when looking at business functions, does your business need to hire in talent or can it be outsourced to specialists?

These factors need to be considered on more than just a financial level – think to the future and plan around your growth.

Final Thoughts

Many of these factors interlace in some way. What ties them all together is investment. Top talent will want to work for you if your business has investor backing, and you’ll have the flexibility to change locations and processes if you have the capital to do so.

Firm funding foundations will put you in a good position to build a strong, sustainable business; one that has the potential to scale-up.

Business

Ahead of expected IPO, Deliveroo recruits Next’s Wolfson to board

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Ahead of expected IPO, Deliveroo recruits Next's Wolfson to board 1

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Deliveroo said on Tuesday it has beefed up its board ahead of an expected initial public offering this year with the appointment of Simon Wolfson, the veteran boss of clothing retailer Next, as a non-executive director.

The food delivery company said on Sunday it had raised a further $180 million from existing investors, including minority shareholder Amazon, in a move that values the business at more than $7 billion.

Deliveroo is set to hold an IPO in the coming months, in what would be the biggest new share issue in London for three years.

Wolfson’s appointment comes after Deliveroo named Claudia Arney as the company’s first chair in November.

Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu said Wolfson would bring “great knowledge and insight” to the board.

Wolfson has been Next’s CEO since 2001.

He is also a peer of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, sitting in the upper house of parliament.

(Reporting by James Davey and Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young and Pravin Char)

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Business

Dollar drops as traders prepare for Yellen to talk up stimulus

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Dollar drops as traders prepare for Yellen to talk up stimulus 2

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar dropped on Tuesday as investors prepared for U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen to talk up the need for major fiscal stimulus and commit to a market-determined exchange rate when she testifies later in the day.

The dollar’s fall came after a 2% rise so far in 2021, a gain which caught off guard many investors who had bet on a further decline following its weakness in 2020.

The dollar has been helped in January by rising U.S. Treasury yields and some investor caution about the strength of the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. But most analysts are sticking with their calls for a weaker dollar from here.

“On fiscal policy, Yellen is to suggest that the US `act big’ and make use of the low borrowing costs. On the dollar, it should be reiterated that the new administration is committed to the market-determined exchange rate. Both are in line with our weak USD outlook,” ING analysts wrote.

President-elect Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package.

The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported Yellen, who is appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, will affirm a more conventional commitment to market-set currency rates in her Senate testimony on Tuesday.

That contrasts with outgoing President Donald Trump, who often railed against dollar strength.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of other currencies, dropped 0.3% to 90.472, but it was still above the its more than two-and-a-half-year low of 89.206 touched at the start of this month.

With the dollar weakening, the euro gained, rising 0.5% to $1.2132.

The single currency was unaffected by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s facing a confidence vote to stay in office. The result vote is due after 1800 GMT.

More volatile and commodity-linked currencies, such as the Australian dollar, also benefited from the weaker U.S. currency, with the Aussie up 0.3% at $0.7707.

Rising commodity prices in recent months have boosted currencies of countries with large commodity exports, such as Australia and Canada.

“We continue to see scope for further gains in commodity-related currencies in the year ahead, which should benefit as well from the strengthening global recovery once vaccines are rolled out more widely,” said Lee Hardman, an analyst at MUFG.

Sterling rose 0.2% to $1.3620.

The dollar rose against the yen and was last up 0.3% to 104.02 yen, although still consolidating in a narrow range after reaching a one-month high of 104.40 last week.

Emerging-market currencies were mostly higher but were some way off recent highs.

(Editing by Gareth Jones, Larry King)

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Creating a people-centric workplace centered on flexibility, experience and wellbeing

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Creating a people-centric workplace centered on flexibility, experience and wellbeing 3

By Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, Logitech EMEA

The light is appearing at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been 2020. With vaccination schemes now underway, we can (albeit cautiously) dare to dream of a general return to relative normality. Yet in the wake of the pandemic, neither our personal liaves nor our work lives will ever be quite the same.

A wholesale change to working practices, and the nature of how and where we work, is set to be one of the big lasting legacies of 2020. Cal Henderson, co-founder of Slack, recently came forward to say he thinks that the age of the office is coming to an end. In a less extreme view, AWS’ CEO Andy Jassy predicts we’ll see the rise of ‘hot offices’, where employees will mostly work remotely, only coming into the office when they need to work on specific projects. And Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicts the age of business travel is over, with only 50% of business trips set to resume.

As the office evolves it’s clear employers will have to adapt their spaces in line with new, post-pandemic wellbeing and workplace trends, and create an office centred around “super experiences” that makes it a destination in itself.

So, in what ways will working practices change, and how do we see the physical workspace evolving?

Re-focussing on the employee

Ultimately, the pandemic has re-focussed the discussion on how employees can best work, and how teams are spending their time. It has also given employers the opportunity to ensure they’re in a better position to help people find a good work life balance.

Yet even after Coronavirus, it’s clear we won’t be working from home forever. The UK government says work from home orders may stay in place until April 2021 and with this in mind a flexible, and hybrid, way of working is set to stay. Employees feel that way too – a recent Simply Communicate survey found only 2% want to go back to the full week in the office.

With the digital tools available and the experience gained over the past 10 months, the idea of everyone being in the office everyday seems old fashioned and unnecessary. People don’t want to travel into an office to then just be sat at their desk for eight hours. What they want is to connect with colleagues, to learn, to be inspired and to share with others.

Anne Marie Ginn

Anne Marie Ginn

Whilst getting your head down to work is important, social time and collaboration is equally valued, and central to general wellbeing. For many employees, their work is central to their sense of self, their meaning and purpose, and after a long period of being at home alone, they’ll be yearning for those in-person, face-to-face experiences. This should be placed at the forefront of modern office culture and design.

An office designed for the people working in it

Offices will become destinations unto themselves – for collaboration, innovation and strengthening team relationships – and less about desk-based or task-based work. The space should also be vibrant and different.

These offices should offer a mixture of meeting rooms and open operational space, which will promote gathering for teamwork, collaboration and companywide networking events. At the same time, smaller collaborative working areas, enabled by video, will facilitate break away group work for those both physically present and working remotely. Banks of individual cubicles will disappear, and instead we’ll see occasional, dedicated concentration pods for when employees need to get their heads down between meetings. And how about relaxation pods should employees want a quick break and recharge?

Beyond work, offices also need to become social destinations in themselves. A recent JLL study found that nearly half of employees hope their office will prioritise social spaces, such as coffee areas, lounges or outdoor terraces and gardens. Common areas play a central role in nurturing informal work relationships, which improve development opportunities and help career outlook – especially crucial for people early in their work life. These spaces allow employees to maintain the inspiration, energy and social connection that comes with belonging to a physical team and environment – something which many found a real challenge to maintain virtually during the pandemic.

Flexible schedules and shared spaces will also lead to a “rightsizing” of office space, where organisations will rethink their real estate, in what will undoubtedly save costs. Some are even predicting that we’ll see the creation of an office ‘ecosystem’, which will comprise of employees working from offices, houses, and third places such as cafes, coworking spaces, and libraries.

Tech and video as the glue for hybrid working

While all of the above will support flexibility, functionality and employee wellbeing, for it to all work it needs high-end peripherals, such as Logitech’s MX Series of high-performance mice and keyboards, and collaboration software to pull it together. This tech needs to help us and not take us away from people, helping our collective mental health in environments that could be potentially isolating.

This human centred approach to work collaboration requires non-intrusive, seamless video conferencing and productivity tools. Through each space in the office, from large town hall style areas, through to smaller huddle rooms, personal workspaces and even satellite offices in the suburbs, these video solutions and smart productivity technologies can help to bring together a team as one.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of high-quality video tools available that can fit the needs of the modern worker within each individual environment. From large 4K cameras with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom to focus on an individual speaking within a large room, to wide angled huddle room cameras for smaller groups, and webcams with integrated high-quality microphones and optics to make sure remote workers are seen and heard just as clearly as if they were physically in the office.

The hybrid opportunity

The hybrid office presents itself with an opportunity to make work better for employees, while creating a more committed and motivated workforce. There’s also potential to save money through reduced office related overheads.

Tied together by smart technologies such as video, this hybrid office has the potential to make employees happier, more motivated and equipped to do their best work. Video will pivot from being the technology we used to survive during the pandemic to the one we use to thrive.

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