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Data to the Rescue: How AI is Cracking Open Small Business Finance

In this blog, Tito Sarrionandia explains how Liberis leverages AI and deep data insights to transform financing for small businesses, surpassing traditional lending limitations.

Read more February 5, 2024

Demystifying Embedded Finance: How AI Is Changing the Game 

The blog discusses how artificial intelligence is changing the embedded finance landscape by providing tailored experiences, streamlined customer experiences, test data for training models, and transparency.

Read more December 6, 2023

The Role of Sustainable and Green Lending in Promoting Social Responsibility for Small Businesses

Discover how sustainable lending empowers small businesses to thrive responsibly, funding eco-friendly projects that build trust with ethically minded customers.

Read more July 26, 2023

Revolutionising Customer Experience: Collaboration between Traditional Banks and Embedded Finance Platforms

This blog explores how traditional banks are revolutionising customer experience by collaborating with embedded finance platforms, which seamlessly integrate innovative financial services within non-financial companies' products or services, enhancing convenience, personalisation, accessibility, and security while streamlining financial transactions and improving financial education.

Read more July 20, 2023

4-Click Funding: How E-Commerce Platforms Can Offer Instant Financing 

Discover how 4-click funding revolutionizes e-commerce platforms, empowering merchants with instant, personalized access to vital funds while ensuring convenience, transparency, and security.

Read more July 12, 2023

Supporting Business Growth: Data-Driven Insights from Liberis

See how Liberis leverages over 17 years of data to offer tailored financing and actionable insights, driving business growth and innovation for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Read more July 18, 2024

Harnessing the Power of GenAI: Insights from Liberis, Teya & Google

Insights from Google, Liberis, and Teya on how GenAI is revolutionising business operations, enhancing productivity, and improving customer experiences through advanced AI integration and innovative solutions.

Read more July 4, 2024

A Day in the Life of a Senior Collections Agent with Shaun Johnson

Shaun Johnson, Senior Collections Agent at Liberis shares what a 'day in the life' looks like.

Read more June 21, 2024

A Day in the Life of a Customer Feedback Associate with Felicity Crudge

Felicity Crudge, Customer Feedback Associate at Liberis shares what a 'day in the life' looks like.

Read more May 16, 2024

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Five Finance Options For Self-Employed And Sole Traders

Being self-employed or a sole trader boasts many benefits including more freedom, higher earning potential and getting to start something of your own from scratch. However, financially it can be tough, especially in the beginning. Luckily, there are now a lot more financing options and support networks out there to assist you in getting your business off the ground.

When it comes to getting financing, we’ve put together a list of options to help you get started:

Personal loan

Personal loans can be taken out for a multitude of reasons and one of them is helping to fund a business. As you’ll be taking out the loan as an individual, you’ll need to have a good credit score. You’ll also need to remember that it will be your name against the loan not your business name so there will be some personal liability involved. However, the plus side to this is that if you have any problems repaying the loan your business won’t automatically be affected. You can get a personal loan from a high street bank or look online for the best rates and deals.

Guarantor loan 

Guarantor loans are great for individuals who are still building up their credit score or who have just started out. It basically works in the same way as any other loan where you borrow money from a lender and then pay it back in monthly installments. However, you’ll need either a relative, friend or someone you trust to be your guarantor so that if you fall behind with your repayments they can cover it for you. You can typically borrow up to £10,000 and it can be a great way to build up your credit score when starting out.


When it comes to applying for a grant, it’s usually easier if you’ve only just started your business or are in the early stages. Even better if it’s for a specific purpose or getting your business launched off the ground. The great thing about grants is that you won’t need to pay it back although some government grants could require you to match the amount of funds they give to you. As well as this you’ll need to meet the eligibility criteria and have a strong business plan. And of course, as other people will be applying for the same grants, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it. To find out more about applying for grants you can check out the site here or The Prince’s Trust for those under 30.


This fundraising strategy allows sole traders and anyone who is self-employed to raise money for a project or business scheme and works by generating finance from donors on the internet. In exchange for donations, the donors can get equity in your business or receive free products and services. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to pay anything back as the funds are given to you as donations, however, you will need to pay a percentage of your donations to the third party site that you’re set up on. Another advantage of crowdfunding is that if you put together an effective campaign, your cause could reach a lot of people and bring you lots more visibility. To find out more you can check out sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Business Cash Advance

For those that are a little more established, a Business Cash Advance is a great option for those who have been trading for over four months. Designed to give you a quick injection of funds, you’ll need to be taking £2,500 in card takings each month. You can then borrow between £2,500 to £30,000 at one fixed cost with no APR or penalty fees. Once approved, you’ll pay back a pre-agreed percentage of your card takings which means that you only make repayments when your customers pay you. To see if you’re eligible you can visit the Liberis website for more information.

Posted on March 2, 2020 By Kieran Darmody

How does a store’s visual appeal affect consumer purchasing?

Have you ever walked into a store and noticed its wallpaper hanging off as you filter through the endless clothing rails in the hope of finding some inspiration? Having spent precious time trying to work out whether the shirt you’ve picked up is navy blue or black thanks to the poor choice in lighting, you find yourself walking out empty handed.

Does the way a store looks and feels really affect whether we choose to make a purchase? Does its choice in décor determine whether we return in the future?

2018 was the year shops, both big and small, made a conscious effort to overhaul the way heir establishments were presented. In the same year, Liberis provided UK businesses with a whopping £19 million to give their premises a new look and feel – making up 20% of all Liberis’ funding last year for refurbishment.

So, what do consumers care about the most?

No matter what type of building you are in, whether its shiny and modern or traditional and steeped in history, staying on top of your business aesthetics is important. Having the right look and feel will ensure your customers continue to return to your store.

We recently ran a customer insight survey, which asked a variety of questions around what aesthetics are most important when choosing where to shop, revealing that most consumers want to shop in a unit that is in a modern building with good clear signage.

Our research also found that lighting, temperature and decoration are the three most important factors for consumers when shopping in-store.

Consumers want natural daylight where possible to be able to see products easier. Shopping in a store with low light, where it is difficult to determine colour, quality and sometimes sizing, was by far the least popular.

The climate of a store came in second, with most shoppers preferring a comfortable room temperature for their visit. Interestingly, more than a third said they would prefer a business unit to be on the warmer side! This was favoured by those in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Southampton.

Completing the top three must-haves for stores was decoration. If applicable, cultural references in décor were favoured the most by shoppers, followed by retro decoration, quirky features and neon feature lights.

Surprisingly, at the bottom of the list was wall colour and music. Despite a firm overall favourite of clean crisp white, those in Belfast, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Sheffield yearned after a store with more personality and colour.

Situated in a fully-refurbished basement space in an iconic Grade II-listed building in Leeds, we visited Assembly Underground (a hub for craft beer and independent street food) to talk all things refurbishments. Check out what Richard Sweet (Assembly Owner) and James Tabor (General Manager and Owner of Slap and Pickle) had to say.

The social media effect

Have you ever searched for a store on Instagram and wanted to visit purely because of how aesthetically pleasing it is?

With the rise in the “Instagrammable shop front” trend – especially with establishments in London like The Ivy Chelsea Garden and Peggy Porschen Cakes, which make up part of the top ten – it’s easy to believe that our research found almost 10 million Brits would visit a business purely to get pictures for social media.

The most popular age group taking part in this are the 25-34-year-olds, followed by 35-44-year-olds and finally the 18-24-year-olds. In addition, our research show that , men are more likely to do this than women.

“We usually associate cafes with good memories of times with people who make us feel good, so eye-catching pics of cafes fire off endorphins (those feel-good hormones) in us and we want to share the endorphin hit around… We also love to be told how great our photos are!” – Julia Bramble, Founder of social media consultancy Bramble Buzz.

Give your business a new lease of life with a refurb

Our research found that a whopping 83% of consumers would return to a store if it has been recently refurbished and is aesthetically pleasing – and from those people, 41% admitted they would be more likely to repeat their custom too.

When it comes to refurbishments, there are plenty of aspects to consider. Overall our research showed that the benefits of giving your store a makeover could do your business the world of good, improving customer retention and potentially boosting your social media presence!

With that in mind, maybe it’s time to give your business a new lease of life? Keeping on top of your décor can be a huge benefit to your business – even simply refreshing your paint can add a fresh new look to your store. Want to go further? Why not look into a complete refurb of your establishment? We have an array of small business finance options available to help you get started.

Posted on February 27, 2019 By Kieran Darmody

The UK’s Most Independent City

From record stores to restaurants, cinemas to gyms, there’s an array of independent retailers in cities and towns across the UK. For those seeking one-of-a-kind cuisine and obscure music, these local businesses offer something different to the typical high street names.

As the season of gift-giving is fast-approaching, it’s time to start thinking of the presents we can buy and where we can buy them from. If you’re thinking of supporting local independent businesses this Christmas, it’s worth knowing where they are.

Here at Liberis, we can help you do just that, as we’ve looked into where you can find the UK’s most “independent” cities. It’s time to head to the independent hotspots and show our support for shopping local.

Where are the Independent Cities?

Using company information research sources, looking at a selection of SIC codes in isolation, Glasgow tops our list when it comes to having plentiful independent businesses. The Scottish city triumphed in several categories, coming first for the highest number of independent pubs and newsagents/off licenses. It also came second in the food and restaurants categories, showcasing a diverse selection of one-off eateries.

Leicester came second on our list, closely followed by Manchester. Perhaps surprisingly, our fair capital only came in at number five, with London coming in just behind Birmingham. Scotland’s capital, meanwhile, was at number 10 on the list.

Are you an Independent Shopper?

Where are you most likely to shop? Have you always tried to support local or are you only recently making the switch?

Our research suggests that over 8 million Brits always opt to shop at small independents and actively refuse to spend their money at big chains. In comparison, 31.6 million admitted that they regularly shop at the big chains and spend at local businesses every now and then.

Our research also found that women are more likely than men to swap out the well-known names for one-off stores. This pattern changes when it comes to the big Christmas food shop though, as women are heading to the big names for their turkey with all the trimmings.

Interestingly, younger people are more likely to embrace independent retailers, with the 25 to 34-year-olds spending their cash with local, one-off stores. They also continue this trend during the festive season, purchasing presents and doing their food shop at independents.

In contrast, the over 65s are spending their money at the names they know. Years of brand awareness for them means they’re keeping to the labels they’ve always shopped with.

Shoppers by City

According to our findings, Scousers are most likely to shop at independents, with Liverpudlian females aged between 25 and 34 being the biggest supporters of local businesses (statistically, at least). Meanwhile, male Bristolians aged over 65 are statistically the demographic that are shopping at big chains instead.

This all changes at Christmastime, however, as Bristol residents are most likely to buy their food from independent shops. Those in Norwich, however, stick to getting their mince pies from high street brands.

When it comes to Christmas gift buying, independent retailers in Belfast see the biggest spend, while Geordies are most likely to buy all of their presents from the big brands.

It’s Christmas!

So, how are we shopping at Christmas overall? Almost 6 million of us (5,858,160) are planning on doing our food shopping at independent retailers this year. The majority of people (41%) plan to use a mixture of local businesses and the big chains. When it comes to gifts, these numbers shoot up to 7.5 million of us supporting local.

Are you planning on shopping local this festive season? What will you be buying and what independents are your must-visit for Christmas gifts?

Posted on December 4, 2018 By Kieran Darmody

The Value of Liberis: Our Impact on the UK Economy

Did you know that every £1 of Liberis funding increases spending in the economy by over £1.50? And that we’ve grown the funding we provide by over 50% each year since 2014?

Liberis Funding

Liberis’ purpose is to provide simple, flexible funding to help businesses thrive and achieve their ambitions. Thanks to the smart innovation of our product and the hard work of our expert team, we’ve made great strides towards this goal over the past 11 years and have hit some milestones that we’re really proud of. To highlight just a few:

  • We’ve provided over £260m of funding to almost 9,000 UK companies, partnerships and sole traders.
  • We’ve enabled nearly 82,000 UK jobs – that’s more than 41,000 at the businesses we’ve funded, and a further 40,000 through the spending of these businesses and their employees.
  • And, as over ¾ of our customers use Liberis funding to invest in or grow their business, over 90% of total customers would recommend us to a friend or colleague.

Looking at the finance space as a whole, it is no secret that the mainstream banking has retreated from funding small businesses in recent years.

BCA vs. BanksDespite the lack of funding, this sector continues to grow and to create vital jobs that our economy needs and Liberis is incredibly proud to be a part of this continued development. With this in mind, we’ve teamed up with John Gathergood, Professor of Economics at the University of Nottingham, to build a report that documents Liberis’ total impact on the UK economy. There are some surprising stats in there, and some inspiring stories from the business owners we work with too.

You can download the full report here.

Posted on November 19, 2018 By Kieran Darmody

Back To Basics: 5 Tips for Securing Small Business Funding

For many business owners, securing funding is absolutely essential. After all, this is what equips a business with the resources it needs to grow, thrive and succeed – as we found in our research earlier this year, where almost two thirds (62%) of surveyed businesses said they needed funding to help them grow and expand.

Nowadays, it’s important to not only secure funding but also to make sure you’re securing the right kind of funding. To do this you’ll need to consider a range of factors and do your research so that you can secure the best option for your business!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Assess your situation

Before you even begin looking at funding options, it’s important to assess your situation and the general health of your business. You should be looking at things like your business’ cash flow, your incoming funds, and all of your expenses and outgoings. Once you have this all recorded in one place, you can take stock of your current situation and decide how much funding you need and what exactly you want to achieve.

Manage your credit score

Obviously, you’ll always be on the lookout for the best rates and offers but what about if you or your business doesn’t have the best credit score? Fortunately, there are a few ways you can try and build this up so that you can improve your eligibility for funding – and perhaps get better deals too.

Some of the ways you can work on improving your credit score include checking your credit score regularly and making sure all the information is correct and up to date. You can also do things such as signing up to the electoral roll which shows that you have a stable and verified postal address. If your business uses credit cards or currently has any loans then paying back the right amount on time will also help show potential providers that you’re reliable.

Another thing to bear in mind is that when applying for credit, often a search will be carried out against your business and show up as a mark against your credit score. Therefore try and avoid making lots of applications in a short amount of time and always double check the criteria section to see if you’re likely to be approved.

Know at your funding options

When looking at your options, you’ll want to make sure that you really do your research. This won’t only involve looking at lenders but also looking at your own market and the kind of funding that your competitors are getting. You could also look at what schemes are available to you and whether you’re eligible to apply.

Or how about looking at alternative and more flexible options such as Liberis’ Business Cash Advance? Get in touch for a personalised, no obligation quote that won’t affect your credit score!

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution so take your time to ensure you’re choosing an option that’s most beneficial for you and the growth of your business.

Present your case

Many providers will ask you to present your business case which will include things like background information about your business, how you started it, the reasons for starting it, how you built it up and what your plans are for the future. You should be able to present all of this information in a concise and articulate way and be prepared to answer questions along the way. You may also be asked to provide supporting documents and additional information so always make sure you have everything organised and ready to go.

Build your network

Having a network around you is really valuable when you are trying to secure funding. People in your network could include potential investors, mentors and advisors, influential people from your industry, and brand advocates. These are the people that will get to know your business, give you advice, and hopefully invest funds one day. To build your network, you could go to networking events, get involved in your local business community, reach out to connections on LinkedIn, and get introductions from your neighbours!

Whatever your situation right now, there are always a host of options available which means you can watch your business grow from strength to strength – good luck!

Posted on August 10, 2018 By Kieran Darmody

Beating The Bookies: World Cup Score Predictions by Liberis

The FIFA World Cup final is almost upon us. And although England may be out, it looks like machine learning and statistical scores are in . . Liberis Data Scientist Ed Gent tells us how!

Differing from the usual company sweepstakes, for this year’s FIFA World Cup, Liberis ran a score prediction competition instead; 5 points for correctly guessing the exact result, 2 points for the correct goal difference, or just 1 point if all you managed was to choose the winning team. It was a fun competition for us to all get involved with – but, more importantly, it was a way to prove Superior Football Knowledge.

One week before the tournament kicked off, I decided to put my reputation on the line and use maths to take on the punters by creating a model to go up against everyone else’s unautomated (but probably much less time-consuming) guesses. The wider team don’t always get to see the performance of the credit risk models we build at Liberis, so the stakes were high and I knew I would be judged by the results of my score predictor.

The Highs, The Lows

We had some benchmarks thrown into the score predictions to judge our efforts against; notably a Random Number Generator (limited to a maximum score of 4) and the Bookmaker’s predictions. Football scores are often surprising, which is partly what makes the World Cup such an exciting tournament, so I was interested to see how the Random Number Generator performed. Bookmakers make money by being better at predicting results than bettors, and professional bettors make money by making even better predictions than the bookmakers, so I didn’t fancy my chances there.

I made a slow but steady start, working my way up the rankings during the group-stage matches and hovering around 8th place (out of 34) for the most part. By match 25 – Brazil vs Croatia – my model had overtaken the Random Number Generator (finally!) but I was nowhere near to some of my colleagues and continued to lag behind the Bookies who were consistently in the top 5.

But my model finally came into its own at the end of the group stage, predicting 4 of the last 8 scores exactly. Colombia’s 1 – 0 win over Senegal snuck me into 1st place, 12 points ahead of the Bookies and beating my colleague Ray by 1 point at the end of the group stages.

Whilst Ray was dismayed that I had leapfrogged him, I was dismayed that I hadn’t been betting on my results. Since the groups, the model has moved further ahead of the competition, although Ray could still catch me if things go horribly wrong this weekend.

The Hows

This isn’t a technical blog post, but I will explain a little about my approach and the magic behind the numbers.

The fundamentals are intuitive – what do you think the goal difference will be for Brazil vs Malta? 2-0? 4-0? And why do you think this? Some possible ideas:

To build a model, you need to generate statistics (or to use the technical name: features) for each team that reflect your hypotheses. Taking the examples above, we could use:

  • Number of previous world cup titles
  • Average numbers of goals scored
  • The difference in FIFA ranking of each team

And plot these on one of the simplest models there is: the line of best fit, a.k.a. linear regression. Check it out below where I’ve plotted goal difference against the difference in FIFA ranking between two teams.

As expected, a large difference in FIFA ranking results in a higher goal difference (on average). However, you can see plenty of results where this is not the case (remember Germany losing 2-0 to Korea Republic?). This means that a model built on the FIFA ranking difference alone won’t do a great job.

So we need a more complex model, which can tease out what drives goal difference apart from the difference in FIFA ranking. In order to do this, we need data. I found two datasets online which I decided to use: 40,000 international football results (dating back to the 1800s!); and FIFA rankings dating back to 1993.

For every match in the dataset I created over 40 features – such as win rate in the last 2 yearsaverage goals scored per match in the last 5 years, etc. Features like these could identify upwards or downwards trajectories; and the difference in features between teams, which can give clues about the type of game expected – e.g. an exciting bout between two offensive teams, or a defensive slog between low scoring teams.

I was surprised to find that the difference in win rate in the last 2 years between each team accounted for 90% of the model’s performance, outperforming the difference in FIFA ranking.

So, I had a model which did a decent job of predicting goal difference. But how to turn that into scores? I ended up taking a fairly boring, but statistically rigorous, approach of calculating the probability of each score combination. And then allocating the most common score to the goal difference predicted by the model.

I estimated that my model would score an average of 1.34 points per match (remember – 5 points for the exact score, 2 points for the correct goal difference, and 1 point for just getting win/loss correct) which seemed very low to me at the time, but it turns out predicting football scores is harder than it seems . . .

The model is currently on an average of 1.30 points per match with 2 matches remaining (recovering from 1.17 after 40) and would have made a return on investment of 20% if betting on exact score outcomes which is easy to say with hindsight 😉 There are no current plans for a Liberis syndicate.

The Final Predictions

The model is not patriotic so I won’t say what it predicts for England’s 3rd place playoff against Belgium, however justice may be served in the final with a predicted 1-0 for France over Croatia.

Posted on July 13, 2018 By Kieran Darmody

SME Insight: Chasing late payments is hindering small business growth

Did you know that over a third of UK small businesses say that chasing aged debt is affecting their cash flow?

This April we surveyed over 440 small businesses to find out just how much money they’re currently owed from customers and clients, and how this is impacting the day to day running of their business and future plans.

Headlining our insight, we found that small UK businesses are chasing an estimated £14.9bn in late payments, almost a 1bn increase compared to 6 months ago. Our research indicated that 58% of businesses are owed up to £10,000, and over 25% are owed more than £20,000. What’s more, when asked if outstanding debt has hindered them from investing in their business, 50% said it has.

Here we take a closer look at the effects of late payments, and who has been affected most.

What is aged debt?  

Aged debt is a debt that is overdue by at least one or more given periods. Payment terms are normally 30 days long and all the information is often stored in a debtors report (“debtors” being individuals or companies who owe money). The report enables small businesses to keep track of the unpaid invoices and identify the overall amount they’re owed.

Our recent research has found that 30% of small UK businesses are owed money from debtors. These businesses said that they have or would consider taking out business finance to cover cash flow issues caused by late payments.

What are the lasting effects of aged debt?

Half of the small businesses we surveyed said that unpaid invoices have prevented them from investing in their business and growing to their full potential. When asked what problems SMEs were encountering in particular, “not being able to buy new equipment”, “not being able to pay or hire staff”, and having to “put plans to expand their business on hold” ranked the most common.

In addition, 72% of all surveyed small businesses said they spend up to three days a month chasing money they are due. This is costing them, on average, £11,000 per year in time spent chasing late payments.

What role do small business owners play?

With all business disruption and lost money considered, are small business owners doing enough to get back the money they are owed?

Our research found that 40% of small business owners said they do not have a clear debt recovery procedure, which could be drawing out the process of debt consolidation. Add this to the fact that almost three quarters of those surveyed spend up to 3 days a month chasing invoices, and it’s apparent that many SMEs would be surviving on slim profit margins with a limited amount of time to dedicate to planning business growth.

If chasing late payments is holding small businesses back from investing in growing their business, one option is to seek a small business loan, and utilise this cash boost to fund their growth plans.

Which sectors are affected by aged debt the most?

21% of small retailers are affected by aged debt, which is almost three times as much as the second largest affected sector, IT and Technology businesses (7%).

Both of these sectors rely heavily on the performance of their technology, but with survey respondents highlighting that the money they’re owed affects investment in their equipment, it becomes clear that late payments are more than just a cash flow issue. Not having finance in the bank is stopping businesses from buying the stock and equipment they need to grow.

Posted on May 8, 2018 By Kieran Darmody

How to Succeed in a Seasonal Business: Garden Centres

When it comes to seasonality, some businesses will be more familiar with the peaks and troughs of it than others. One example of this is garden centres. With more than 2,500 garden centres currently operating across the UK, surviving those footfall fluctuations means that businesses would benefit from having a plan in place.

Worryingly, this hasn’t always been the case as according to reports, “two out of three UK businesses are affected by seasonality, yet more than a quarter of these fail to make any business plan to protect their bottom line during quieter times. Smaller companies are the least likely to have a strategy.”

Here are a few tips, including some guidance from business owners themselves, on how you can succeed in a seasonal business:

Forecast Business and Stay On Top Of Cash Flow

It’s easy to forget about cash flow forecasting when things are on the up. But having a detailed cash flow projection in place can be beneficial regardless of the season. It’s a good idea to plan this out for a 3-4 month period and map out all the cash you have going in and going out of your business.

You can then use previous sales data to pinpoint any date ranges that you think will be particularly slow and work out how you will financially cover yourself for this period. Taking a look at this on a weekly basis and making sure you’re always planning for the next 3-4 months means you can stay on track and keep on top of your cash flow before it becomes a problem.

David Moore, owner of canal boat hire company Valley Cruises, says “it is a seasonal business, and we do peak in the summer when people go for their holidays – but we can do a few things to smooth the change. We can take payment over the year, so if a customer books the boat for July, August, or September, we can take 25% or so of the payment earlier on, perhaps in December or January when people plan their holidays. It’s important to predict and plan for the highs and lows, so we can to be sustainable with our cash flow when we know it’s going to be tight.”

Cover Your Costs In Advance

One of the trickier problems that seasonal businesses often have to deal with is getting enough stock for their busy periods. Garden centres usually experience spikes during spring, summer and bank holidays and will therefore be ordering the majority of their stock between those times. However, without a high turnover of profits coming in during the rest of the year, you won’t always have the funds you need to do this.

If this is the case then there are several options, including borrowing money from friends and family or taking out a Business Cash Advance, that can help you smooth over cashflow. Making sure you manage your stock rotations means that it’ll be easier to order your stock in advance without causing too much financial strain.

Use Quiet Periods to Make Plans and Observe The Competition

Quiet periods in business can be inevitable, but you can make the most of this downtime by using it to strategize. Take a look at what stock is selling and what’s not, and most importantly what products customers are requesting. This could include things such as outdoor furniture, barbeques, sheds and local produce. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of an ‘off-season’ spike such as Christmas where you can pick up trade by selling Christmas trees and decorations.

It may also be worth checking out the competition. Many garden centres expand their offering to help provide a boost during those off-peak times, for instance as lots opening a restaurant or cafe, or beginning to sell fresh local produce to keep business up – conducting market research on these ideas, could help you develop your own business!

While for many businesses, seasonality can mean changeable and sometimes uncertain times, adopting a few precautionary steps can help make the experience just that little bit easier.


Rating Manual Vol 5, Revaluation 2017, Garden Centres – Valuation Office Agency

Posted on June 20, 2017 By Kieran Darmody

Bank Lending Off the Pace and Impacting Small Business Growth

Due to the drop in the pound since the start of 2016 many businesses in the UK have been forced to increase their prices due to higher input costs.  According to secured bank lender Borro, slow bank lending is restricting small business growth during this time. Alternative finance lenders can provide funding in a fraction of the time banks typically take, but lack of awareness and confidence that this service exists means businesses still believe that banks are the best, or only, option.

According to the latest preliminary data, UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by only 0.3% over the last quarter (Jan to March 2017), which is the slowest rate of growth since Quarter 1, 2016. This is largely due to reduced growth in the restaurant, retail and accommodation industries, which had to increase prices when the pound dropped after the EU referendum.

During challenging times like these, businesses commonly seek funding to help them cover costs and continue to grow. However, Borro’s CEO Paul Aitken has expressed concern that businesses are being negatively impacted by slow bank lending, saying “Bank lending speeds have remained static despite improvements in technology, consumer credit checks and a steadier market.

If the industry is serious about supporting business growth in the UK, it’s critical lending speeds are improved. We know business owners are missing out on opportunities to expand purely due to lack of available cash.”

The latest Bridging Trends data shows that the average bridging completion time for UK loans is 50 days. Given that these types of loans are meant to be short term solutions designed to “bridge” gaps in debt or cash flow during pressing circumstances, this is inconvenient for business owners. Fortunately, there are options other than banks available.

Alternative Sources of Funding For Small Businesses

Slow bank lending shouldn’t impact business growth, and the reality is that it doesn’t have to. There are alternative sources of funds for businesses which are specially designed to accommodate their needs. In fact, the Association of Alternative Business Finance (AABF) was formed earlier this year to increase knowledge and awareness of the industry. Its aim is to inform businesses in the UK so they know they have a choice in funding, and that banks aren’t the only option.

As one of seven founding members, Liberis is focused on providing small businesses with the short term funding they need to enable growth. They’re understanding of how small businesses operate and know that speed is important, which is why in many cases, they can give businesses a decision in 24 hours. With 30% of businesses valuing alternative finance for its speed and simplicity, it’s evidently a favourable solution for providing businesses with funding when they need it most.

Posted on May 10, 2017 By Kieran Darmody

8 out of 10 Consumers Plan to Use More Independent Businesses This Year

Our recent survey of consumers’ attitudes towards small businesses has found 8 out of 10 consumers are planning to use more independent businesses this year; highlighting how SMEs are continuing to drive consumer spend.

Top reasons why consumers shop small or use independent businesses

When over 200 consumers were asked for the reasons they shop small, 58% of respondents said it was for convenience, with the second highest reason being to support local business and boost the economy. Despite respondents admitting they find smaller businesses more expensive, these findings showcase how an increasing number of consumers are turning away from larger stores to provide support and encourage growth locally.

With 41% of those surveyed saying they already shop at a small business at least once a week, a lot of our respondents are actively supporting their local highstreets already.

With initiatives like Small Business Saturday and reports of record numbers of private sector small businesses at the start of 2016, consumers have a greater choice than ever when looking to shop outside of the larger chain stores.

Customer service makes small businesses thrive

For 28% of respondents, the primary reason why they are continuing to shop with small businesses derives from high product standards and service offerings. This was closely followed by 27% saying customer service was extremely important to them, which underpins the long-standing notion that smaller businesses can provide a better service as they can build stronger relationships with individuals.

The superior quality of customer service provided in smaller outlets certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by consumers. 51% of those polled said there is a substantial difference between the customer service offered in small businesses compared to larger stores. One respondent revealed “smaller stores seem more genuine and go out their way to help you” and another explained “at smaller stores the service is more personal”; indicating smaller businesses must continue to provide a memorable and tailored customer service to stay competitive against bigger brands.

Limited product selections and higher prices are a challenge

We also asked consumers whether they feel shopping small has its downsides. 50% cited that limited product selection was the main disadvantage while almost half (48%) also said smaller stores tend to be more expensive.

Interestingly, very few respondents considered having an online offering, being a household name or peer recommendations as an influential factor in their decision to support a small business. However, when asked why consumers shop at larger stores, price was the number one reason, as stated by 47% of respondents.

Although limited products, a smaller service offering and price being potentially discerning factors for consumers choosing a smaller business over a larger competitor, this data supports the idea that consumers will shop locally or independently to obtain unique products and feel more valued for their custom. Overall, these are key takeaways for any small business that wants to be successful.

Posted on April 25, 2017 By Kieran Darmody
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