Scale ups – where the best ingredients flourish

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Stuart Weeks Crowe

What is going to grab the headlines?

  • A long established business with years of experience, crashing without grace into the long grass because its business model is outdated?
  • An exciting fresh new business with lots of ideas – like a fledgling; perhaps uncoordinated, probably working out which way is up, but full of enthusiasm and ideas?
  • A company that has emerged from the start up years and is showing fantastic potential?

In reality, all of these companies will attract attention and at Crowe, we act for companies just like these and more.

Our business lifecycle shows the journey companies tend to follow, which enables us to work with the business and owners at every stage of the lifecycle. Whether providing advice to those in start-up phase, mentoring and advising through the scale up phase, or later giving support in the event that the company reaches the end, Crowe can provide the necessary assistance.

One key facet which draws all of these businesses together is Innovation. It could be a failure due to lack of innovation, exploratory innovation or a success with fast growth because of an idea that has real potential – innovation is the common feature.

Innovation is fundamental to any successful business, it is the life blood and scale up businesses thrive on this. The nature of a scale up is fast growth over a short period. Something the international community measures against turnover and employees – how fast have the sales of the company increased and how fast have the team of employees grown? It is however, because of attention-grabbing innovation, that scale ups can experience success.

With the palpable energy and activity created by scale ups, this more often than not translates into an abundance of innovative ideas. It is these ideas and the translation of these ideas into commercial opportunity that will lead to this fast growth and success.

As the UK continues its journey through the unchartered Brexit waters uncertainty has the real prospect of damaging and constraining innovation. But without doubt it is the scale up community that will continue to innovate, to buck the trend in times of uncertainty and take the lead in delivering the growth needed by the economy.

However there is no guarantee that scale ups will undertake this growth within the UK. How many businesses see prospects outside of the UK? How should the UK react to this challenge?

There are many ingredients that make a successful scale up, but innovation alone doesn’t guarantee success.

A scale up needs support and steering; guidance from others who have walked the path, as well as an understanding of the objectives of the business and owner. This is why the business mentor is another essential ingredient.

At Crowe we provide advice to scale ups to help them achieve their objectives. This ranges from helping them find funding, including from innovation tax reliefs, identifying ways to reward and incentivise employees or helping them plan the structure of their business. Many scale ups work globally and we work with business owners to think about the best structure and the tax consequences in other countries.

A scale up is an exciting place to be, but it also has its challenges. It is vital to the success of the scale up that the owners deal with those challenges, obtaining support and advice as appropriate. These are also essential elements of success, as failure to deal with those challenges will mean the scale up does not achieve its potential.

The ScaleUp Institute has identified five keys areas where scale ups are either crying for support or should be.

  1. Talent – the scale up relies on a fantastic and talented group of individuals. Looking to academic institutions, and elsewhere, to nurture and grow the next generation of innovators, scale ups recognise that good, talented employees are a fundamental bedrock.
  2. Leadership – a successful business has a combination of talents and experience. Leaders lead people and organisations. A scale up benefits from identifying the right leaders who can see and cast the vision and develop and implement the strategy to achieve the vision.
  3. Access to markets – for an idea to become a commercial innovation, a scale up needs to work with specialists who understand the right channels to market.
  4. Finance – this is fundamental to any business. Good financial management is key, but having access to finance is essential. If the leader is able to cast the vision correctly this will be an important catalyst in opening the doors to financial sources.
  5. Infrastructure – the growth of a business relies on the existence of an effective infrastructure to support the business. This could include having suitable physical facilities within which to carry out the business.

An important source of finance to a scale up is grants, many of which are provided by the EU. After Brexit what plans will the UK government have to find a mechanism to maintain this support? If the UK wants to keep its UK talent and attract more, it will need to invest time, effort and money in planning how to address this concern.

The scale up also needs the UK government to find its own best talent in order to negotiate the best trade deals with other countries, so that it is given the best foundation to do what it does best; to innovate.

A successful scale up is a company that knows its strengths, recognises its weaknesses and seeks support in helping to address those weaknesses.

It is successful scale ups that will offer the boost the economy needs to navigate the UK through Brexit and into growth. At Crowe we work with such businesses to achieve success.

So what will grab tomorrow’s headlines?

For more information or to discuss please contact Stuart Weekes, stuart.weekes@crowe.cok

Crowe U.K LLP

Aquis House

49-51 Blagrave Street

Reading, RG1 1PL, UK