Paul Taberner: Bold measures will stimulate growth

 

As part of our series of blogs on business growth, we have interviewed leading entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the region. Today, we speak to Paul Taberner, investment director at equity investor Enterprise Ventures and manager of the Rosebud Fund.

 

Is now a good time to be launching a growth strategy?

 

It depends – no business survives in a vacuum and you have to take into account the market in which you operate. So, in certain sectors of manufacturing I would say it’s a good time. Retail is much harder and it’s difficult to see a recovery in consumer discretionary spend in the short term.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing growing businesses?

 

Working capital and the availability of debt. Many businesses have balance sheets that have taken a hit over the last three or four years, and it is an often-quoted statistic that more businesses fail on the way out of a recession than on the way in. This time round we have a banking sector which needs to repair its own balance sheet and is not lending to mainstream SMEs.

 

Is the North West a good base for a growing business?

 

Yes – we have a skilled workforce in many sectors, good communications, a large population, Enterprise Zones and labour rates below those in the South. Why not?

 

What would you say to entrepreneurs who feel they can’t get access to funding?

 

Look beyond the banks. There are a number of public sector options here in the North West including the Rosebud Fund, North West Fund and community development finance associations such as Bolton Business Ventures, particularly for small businesses. Peer-to- peer lending is an option, but not for everyone. Speak to an adviser who understands the funding landscape – it’s out there if you know where to look. The Access to Finance team can also help.

 

What makes successful leaders of growing businesses?

 

Vision and boldness to take decisions based on a growth assumption – at the moment it’s lacking in many businesses that have taken a real knock over last few years.