Sue’s February Family Business page, In-Cumbria Magazine

Have you got your copy of the February In-Cumbria Magazine? This month the magazine is packed with interesting news and updates from around the county including Sue’s ‘Family Business’ page, where she shares her insight and advice for family-run businesses.

In her February page, “Funding beyond the silver spoon”, Sue discusses the thorny issue of raising capital.

“I have heard some people describe family businesses as a ‘silver spoon’, but my experience is that the generations that inherit the family firm must work every bit as hard and innovate quicker than their ancestors.

Whether a family business is in its infancy or has passed on the responsibility many times before, today’s ever-changing business climate is challenging for all. Staying ahead of the curve is vital and thankfully, family businesses seem to be able to do exactly that. Often nimbler than their corporate counterparts, family businesses can make decisions quickly
(whether it be at the board meeting or on a Sunday dog walk) and act fast when needed and there are some shining examples of that right here in Cumbria.
However, making a decision isn’t all that’s needed in business. The next step is to make it happen. At this stage, one of the stumbling blocks that face family businesses is how to raise the capital required to ensure growth and development don’t stagnate. We are all too aware of the difficulties facing businesses needing a cash injection, stricter lending criteria and a nervous European market have led to a tightening of the regular sources’ purse strings. Where can we find cash when we need it then?
In recent years I have worked with more than 100 family businesses securing different grants and funding for them or signposting them to trusted partners who can assist them, but this is an ever-changing landscape. As one stream dries up, a hot spring erupts elsewhere. It’s not so much that there isn’t money to be borrowed or given, it’s that the criteria shift over time.

Politics and even ‘business fashion’ plays its part here. So it’s crucial businesses keep themselves informed of funds available to them. Some would say we have been lucky as a county to date to have the access to the different funds and
subsidies to grow and develop our businesses, and it will be interesting to see what develops in this area going forward.
And that is not forgetting or underestimating the commercial lending and alternative investment opportunities we have available across the county.
Personally, I truly hope there are options for all sectors with future grant and development funding. No amount of history can fully prepare a business for the future – to survive means to adapt, to adapt means to change, to change takes time and investment.
A silver spoon? Sounds more like a lot of passion and hard work to me.”