We’ve had a remarkable few years since launching our business in the UK, we’ve come to know what makes our small business customers tick, and discovered what really matters to business owners the length and breadth of the British Isles.
And what an interesting and varied bunch you are. We’ve been helping businesses in the furthest reaches of Scotland, over in Northern Ireland, and across the Welsh border. It’s not just SMEs in London and the South East looking for finance to grow and take advantage of new opportunities. We’ve had requests from companies in all industries, from demolition to wholesalers. Hospitality remains one of the greatest areas of demand. The people who run the restaurants, cafes and pubs of Britain are still deemed too great a risk for many conventional lenders. But we’ve found them to be hard-working, innovative and worthy of the help needed to realise their professional ambitions.
Some of you may know that our parent company, Business Financial Services, has been operating in the US for over a decade, providing SMEs with short-term lending to aid growth and manage cash-flow. Our previous chief executive, Marc Glazer, realised that there was a similar need across the Atlantic that wasn’t being adequately addressed. Britain boasts a wealth of good, strong businesses who need capital to flourish, but who have found, particularly in recent years, there are very few places to go for finance. Increasingly, they tell us that they don’t bother with the banks, having been turned down for loans in the past, or tiring of the time such borrowing takes to arrange and the piles of form-filling it involves. So, Boost Capital was born, and over the recent months we’ve helped many solid, reliable, small companies with speedy funding for anything from refurbishing premises, buying stock, or business expansion.
The feedback we’ve had from customers so far has been very heartening. Some have described us as a breath of fresh air. One said that we were like the banks used to be – we look at the business and get to know it and base our lending decision on that assessment, rather than just looking at a company’s assets. We know that SMEs want to get access to capital quickly, based on how the business is performing. And I hope that people realise that we are interested in establishing a relationship and want to grow with our clients. Certainly, we’re already finding firms coming back to us for a second and third slice of funding once they’ve paid off their first loan, saying that they appreciate the speed and simplicity of what we do.
There has been a need for some education. Boost Capital’s model is something new to the UK marketplace after all. When we launched, knowledge of this type of short-term lending was minimal here, and one of our jobs has been to communicate with business owners about how things work, that borrowing is unsecured and designed to be fast to deliver and, generally, quick to pay back. We have to explain that our loans are short-term, which has the merit of not burdening enterprises with repayments over several years. And, of course, borrowing is unsecured, which is a comfort for business owners. Our lending is repaid in smaller, regular payments, meaning no large hit at the end of the month. It’s a new message for many SMEs, so we’ve had to explain how all of these things can help a business and its cash flow.
Since alternative finance has come of age, SMEs are increasingly realising that there are sources of capital available other than the high street banks. It’s not my intention to slate the big banks. Far from it. They do a great and difficult job, and there’s room for all of these types of business financing. I would say that the more choice SMEs have – the better. Different forms of lending are going to be appropriate for different companies in different circumstances. But in the year ahead, we look forward to working with ever greater numbers of enterprising individuals who realise how we can help their firms become bigger, better and stronger. Boost Capital has more funds to give to growing businesses in 2018
We see great potential in the UK’s business community and we want to do all we can to help SMEs thrive and flourish. There is much work yet to do, but, like you, we relish a challenge. So, here’s to the next 12 months of sweat, determination and, ultimately, business growth.