Scottish Enterprise has a number of schemes to make it easier for small to medium-sized businesses to access growth funding, such as a loan, equity finance - where the investors take shares in your company - or a combination of the two.
Firstly, to check whether expansion is suitable for your business at this time, Business Gateway (run by Scottish Enterprise and local partners) provides a range of services including a business health check with an experienced advisor or a business mentoring scheme.
If you decide expansion is the best way to develop your business, funding is available from several sources namely:
- High Growth: This plays a key role in the creation of new technology business, each of which must display the potential to trade globally and reach a minimum valuation of £5 million by their third year of trading.
- Business Growth Fund: Provides loans and equity investments between £20,000 and £100,000 to businesses which show ambition to grow and that satisfy various criteria relating to their size and commercial viability.
- Scottish Co-Investment Fund (SCF): This is a £45 million equity investment fund set up by Scottish Enterprise and part funded by the European Development Fund to invest from £10,000 to £500,000. The SCF invests in partnership with private sector investors who make the investment decisions, so if you are seeking investment for your business you cannot approach the SCF directly, but only through its partners. Visit www.scottish-enterprise.com/equity for further information about SCF partners including contact details and deal preferences.
- The Digital Media and Creative Industries Fund (DMF) is available for digital media and creative industries projects. As with SCF, DMF invests in partnership with private sector investors and cannot be accessed directly through Scottish Enterprise.
Scotland also has a very active private equity market, both formal and informal. You can find out about potential venture capital and business angel investors, which may or may not be SCF partners, from the British Venture Capital Association and LINC Scotland.
Finally, you should remember not all companies are suited to development by expansion. If you have any questions about any aspect of company finance or business growth you should consult your professional advisers.
George Boyle is a partner specialising in corporate finance with commercial law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn. 0141 566 8515