Bobby Lane, accountant, writer and media personality came to speak to us at MarketInvoice HQ about the economic climate, alternative finance and perceptions of it, what lessons need to be learnt and the future.
Bobby Lane is Head of Outsourcing and Business Development at award-winning accountancy firm SSH LLP. He regularly writes for national and trade newspapers and lends his expertise as Business Agony Uncle on BBC Radio London and Strategy Surgeon for Talk Business. He is also the founder of The Mirror’s Hinge Campaign. In short, he knows his stuff.
As you may be able to tell from his credentials, one of Bobby’s missions is education (education, education).
He notes that one of the biggest objections to invoice finance he comes across when dealing with growing businesses is “I don’t have a clue what they are talking about!”
We found we had a lot in common with Bobby’s philosophy, particularly in our determination to bring a new approach to the invoice finance industry and in our responsibility to assist and educate businesses and advisors about funding options and business growth.
“Some businesses still see invoice finance as a lender of last resort. Despite the industry taking huge leaps forward it is still down to the lenders to explain how and why this is the best form of finance for a growing business and to help educate other professionals to explain how this type of facility could work for their clients.”
This, he claims, is partly down to the rise of younger entrepreneurs. There are a record number of young people starting their own companies: 247,049 companies were started in 2013 by under 35s. This is up 70% on 2006.
These young entrepreneurs, Bobby says, “don’t have the same broad set of skills and business tools” that their older counterparts had. However, perhaps unlike the older generation, these younger entrepreneurs are happier to admit that they have gaps in their knowledge and skills.
According to reseach SSH carried out, bank loans and overdrafts are still seen as the answer to working capital problems and 70% of SMEs aren’t aware of the various finance initiatives that can help them.
He then went on to identify what SMEs must learn:
- Realism first and foremost
- The importance of a business plan
- Equally, the importance of having a forecast longer than 12 months
- The difference between cash and profit
- Seeking advice is good
The new role defined by the evolution of digital and cloud accounting packages and their increasing sophistication has allowed accountants and bookkeepers to become business consultants, armed with a incredibly lucrative added value offering:
– Supplementary skills
It is in these areas that bookkeepers and accountants will be able to help; the ability to fill in the skills gap of the modern entrepreneurial/startup makeup will become increasingly important.