The Scale Up Institute’s last report identified ‘infrastructure’ as one of the key challenges for scale up businesses. While not clearly defined, the term appears to refer to the ecosystem of local hubs and enterprise agencies available. If you are a scale up business (sales growth > 15%; hitting sales of £10m or more; or assets of £5.1m or more) you will appreciate the value of peers and networks to access advice and support. The lack of access to such networks is a common experience of underrepresented minorities. These hubs provide clusters of know-how, sales networks, pitfalls to avoid, solutions to challenges, awareness of regulatory challenges, moral support and for many, a like-minded community to learn from and share.
In our experience there are a variety of organisations available to support enterprises, operating at a local level (possibly with LEP or DCMS support), or national sector based programmes and accelerators (some aligned to investor support, others with universities or forward-looking initiatives like NatWest Accelerator). The challenge for entrepreneurs who are time-short is how to connect with the most relevant and effective organisations, especially when the focus of much of the support appears to be focused on earlier stage businesses.
One of the most effective ways of gaining access to relevant infrastructures can be through the appointment of non-executives directors (‘NED’s), board advisors or professional advisors who are able to connect entrepreneurs with relevant networks and other infrastructure. The creation of a Board of directors is a significant undertaking and will involve a number of considerations, so an easier and more flexible option can include creating an advisory board, engaging experienced experts to mentor or act as a board observer. For further information on how to build an effective venture board see our article here.
Drawing on scale up and high growth experience from venture boards to listed companies, we provide integrated leadership support from non-executive appointments to board advisory retainers or reviews. Our integrated approach combines operational experiences and expertise covering leadership, strategy, finance, people, legal and IT. To understand how we might help you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a high growth business?
If you are wondering what a scale up business is, it’s a fair point and is defined by the Scale Up Institute as businesses surpassing the £10m turnover level or with assets of more than £5.1m and sales growth of 15%-20%. The threshold mirrors current financial reporting thresholds that mean this is the first opportunity for those businesses to be visible and in reality, there are many more scale ups – fast growing businesses of substance that fall below these limits but are nonetheless experiencing similar growth challenges. It also means that these are proven businesses who have gone far beyond the MVP and market validation challenges of earlier stage businesses. To see an overview of the top challenges facing scale up businesses, see our article “Top five challenges for scaling businesses”