#### Merchant Cash Advance: What is a Factor Rate?

A ‘Factor Rate’ of interest is a term normally associated with Merchant Cash Advance finance, or MCA for short. Merchant Cash Advance finance is when a business is able to borrow against the revenue forecasted to go through your Card Machines. For example, if you turnover £5,000 a month, you can borrow £5,000 from a lender, and pay it back daily from your takings.

A factor rate of interest is not expressed in percentages like standard interest rates but as a decimal figure. These will range from around 1.1 and even up to 1.9. This number represents the amount you will pay back on your loan

While factor rates sound straight forward, there is a lot you need to think about if you are thinking about applying for a merchant cash advance.

How Does a Factor Rate Work?

If your business is looking for a short term funding option, to boost your cash flow or to give you working capital quickly, a merchant cash advance could be a good option.

Unlike a standard loan, where you have a variable or fixed interest rate to pay back, MCAs or Cash Advance Loans, are calculated using a decimal figure that presents what times the loan you must pay back.

Other short term loans with Tier 3 or 4 lenders, might also use factor rates or buy rates to determine your total repayments.

Your factor rate is usually dependant on how long you have been in business and your average monthly turnover through your card machines.

It is important to understand how interest is calculated on a factor rate loan, compared to a standard interest rate loan. Businesses don’t often think of this and can sometimes get very unstuck.

For Example:

Say my business got a Cash Advance of £10,000 at a factor rate of 1.5 for a 12-month term.

The total amount my business will need to pay back is £15,000 (£10,000 x 1.5 = £15,000). Having the knowledge that you are paying £5,000 for that £10,000, at first glance, you might think you’re paying 50% interest rate for the short term advance.

The total interest cost of the loan is 50%, however, when a factor rate is being used to calculate interest, it predetermines your interest in one lump upfront when the cash is advanced. An interest rate loan (APR), may have the same interest rate, but the interest is calculated on what is left owing on the loan every month, rather than upfront at once.

For example, a £10,000 loan on the same APR (50%) as a Merchant Cash Advance Factor Rate (1.5) – would cost  £2661.94, compared to the Factor Rate of £5,000.

Other things to be aware of with Merchant Cash Advances are are that they are calculated daily. In other words, if you have a cracking day, you will pay more of your loan back on that day, when compared to a quiet day. This could mean that your cash flow could again be stretched if you were relying on those busy days to fund you through a quiet period.

How Do I Apply for a Merchant Cash Advance

We help companies every month access MCAs around the UK. There a number of providers who offer this finance, which can make the market nice and competitive. These products are really good for small cafes, bars and other retail shops that have strong card sales.

To process an application, and help you find the best rate across the market, I will need the following documents:

• Merchant Services Statements. Usually, between 3 – 6 months of statements from your card provider.
• Business Bank Statements. I will need your last 6 months of company bank statements.
• Years in Business. For most lenders, that would be competitive, I will require a minimum of one-year trading history.
• Companies House Return. I will also require your last Ltd Companies return, filed with companies house.

At the end of the day, like with any finance, it is about risk. If a lender can see numbers that stack up, the cheaper the rate will be. If a lender is worried about your numbers or your industry, you might find your rates being higher.

#### What is a Non-Executive Director? An Introduction to Smart Money

In simple terms, a Non-Executive director is a senior business specialist who has a seat on the board of a company. They contribute smart money and to the growth of a business by providing their knowledge in a specific area. For a startup company, they could be an expert in finance or someone who can create sales or business for that startup and so on, this would all depend on what area of business your company is involved in and what stage of progress your business is in.

The Non-Executive roles are often given to people instead of money, they are often given equity for this role. If you are interested in hiring a Non-Executive director then the smartest way would be to offer them B class shares, this way, the shares mature as the non-exec has proven their worth, as the company will hopefully grow due to the Non-Executive being in their position.

They are also very handy when it comes to getting investment, due to the fact that they can make a team look a lot more experienced, and for very little in return. It’s also a great way to network as the more experienced they are then the more people in the field they know.

It’s very important to remember that although this is your business, there will always be people out there who know more than you, especially when you’re just starting off, you need all the help you can get! Every day will be a learning curve. Therefore, it’s essential that you surround yourself with people who can help you.

If you want more information on how to find and attract potential non-executives to work with you then you can read the following article here: (LINK TO ARTICLE).

At Acceler8me we can set you up with; meetings, networking events, and workshops that include more in-depth discussions regarding all the important stuff such as hiring staff, bringing on investors or Non-Executives etc, this could be extremely useful for you if you are just starting off and this is all brand new information for you, don’t panic we are here to help!

Get in touch today!

Director, Acceler8me.

#### Business Startup Grants – What Grants Are Available In The UK?

Too often people believe they are held back from setting up a business because they ‘just don’t have the money’. Years ago, having the money behind you to get started was crucial. Luckily, there are now tons of business startup grants out there to help those who just have great ideas and the drive to succeed in business. Granted, there is a lot more competition out there, as things have evolved, but there is also a lot more support in particular fields that will help you grow. Previously, The UK and Welsh Government provided grants for most businesses, however, this isn’t the case anymore.

These are just a few examples of certain grants in the UK; Innovate UK-, EU Jobs Growth (Backed up to 2020), Local council and borough grants, Princess and Princes Trust, Welsh and UK Lottery Funding, Arts Council funding, British Council Funding. There are also some Industry specific grants that cover; Film industry, Coal industry, TV technology, Social enterprise grants.

I know what you’re thinking; ‘Where do I start?!’. It may seem slightly overwhelming at first, but we are here to help. If you get in touch today we can assess your business plan and arrange a consultation to discuss your current situation, we can then help find you the perfect grant that will benefit your area of interest. We will even guide you through writing the grant application!

It’s important to understand that there is help out there, and remember; success in businesses doesn’t just benefit you, it also benefits the economy in the country. Therefore, government grants WANT you to succeed. If you dig even further there are even classes, training sessions and even boot camps that focus on young aspiring entrepreneurs to encourage them to set up their own business. It is much more encouraged and supported in the 21st century.

That being said, some people will still find more excuses such as; “I’m just afraid of failure” When really this is more of a confidence issue that everyone faces, however, in the business world someone who believes that much in their business WILL succeed, and sometimes will appreciate rejection, so they can take the feedback on board and come back fighting.

All it takes is one simple step and approach our consultation services and you are on your way to making your dreams come true.

So…now what’s holding you back?

Director, Acceler8me.

#### What Does ‘Smart Money’ Mean?

There are a lot of terms out there that sound better than they are and confuse a lot of new entrepreneurs. One of those terms is ‘Smart Money’ which sounds more complicated than it is, it basically refers to those investors who are experts in the financial markets and know exactly what they are doing. Simple.

Smart Money related to an investor means that they can offer you more to your business than just money. They often are experienced business people in the field your company is in, who can bring contacts, sales and even potential exits. They often, but not always, put in smaller amounts of money for more equity. They often have an advantage for investing in your business. It could be a professional or another investment that will benefit with the investment.

You might be thinking why that term? Well, the term originates from gamblers who have a history of success due to continued practice and intense knowledge of the field.

When it comes to investing – these are the big dogs who really know their stuff. They could probably answer any question you may have or direct you to the right path of investment that you are looking into. Therefore, they are pretty good to have around, especially if you have no idea where to start/what do to. We can even point you in the right direction of workshops, classes that can enrich your knowledge in certain areas.

At Acceler8me we can break it down with you on what areas you need help with, we can also discuss whether getting in touch with someone who has “Smart Money” will benefit you, and how you can do that. We also host networking events that can help you get in touch with potential investors. Just ensure that you are Investment ready at this point, you can read more about how to be investment ready here: (LINK).

Get in touch today!

Director, Acceler8me.

#### What Actually Is a Sales Strategy?

A good sales strategy is usually one of the many reasons why successful businesses thrive. Let’s say you have a product that you want to sell, you might think that the best thing to get your brand out there is to get out onto the streets to try and sell your product, this is great if you’re looking for some customer feedback so that you can work on improvements, not so good if you want to sell. You’ll find out soon enough that you won’t make as many sales, this is because nobody knows who you are and the trust has not been built.

Believe me, back in the olden days it was possible to strap on a bag full of anything, knock on doors and get some sales. In the 21st century, we live in a more digital world. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means there are certain things that you need to consider before you try to make yourself known.

There are a million and one things to consider before you head out trying to sell something. You’d need:

• To do your research – is there a gap in the market, who are your competitors, will somebody buy this product?
• To show imagination – you might think that getting out there will show people you’re ballsy and you will therefore gain the respect you deserve, when really this idea generally just lacks imagination, it has been tried and done before.
• To build your brand awareness – this way if you were to knock on the door then people would be excited about this as they will know who you are! You’ve gained the respect, trust and attention that you wanted and then you’re ready to sell as there is an interest to buy that has been built.
• A strong marketing strategy – who are your target market? How are you going to attract their attention?
• Product testing – is your product 100% ready and tested to sell?
• A financial plan – how much are you selling for? Who are your investors? How are you organising any loaned money?

You should have a whole section of sales strategy in your business plan. It doesn’t need to be full of jargon that you don’t really understand, it just needs to cover all aspects with clear and concise points on how your going to grow your business. Strategies are your friends in the beginning.
Plan, plan and plan some more, until you are 100% certain that if you did walk out to sell on the streets you WILL get sales. If you don’t have this confidence yet then you need to work on the points that I’ve raised above.

Hit me up with a phone call so we can get started no your strategies and build up that brand awareness that will help you with your sales strategy.

Director, Acceler8me.

#### Top 10 tips to Finding Non Executive Directors & Smart Money

Now that we’re clear on what a non-executive director and smart money are how about we delve into how to find and attract them to work with you? Here are some top tips I’ve put together to help:

1. Don’t be scared to ask!
It might sound daunting but you have to remember that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. What’s the worst that can happen? Rejection is expected, but you just have to dust yourself off and move onto the next one.

Contacting those via InMail actually work really well, it’s also a great platform to compare experiences and areas where you might need more attention. Just remember that you may only get one response for every twenty messages sent.

3. Research
Find people who will benefit from being a non-executive, that way they get just as much out of the deal as you do. They could be with other businesses etc but are philanthropic and more than willing to contribute. Don’t be worried if you have to teach them what to do, everyone has to learn some way or another.

4. Don’t be put off by those who have never been approached
A lot of people are too scared to ask, and a lot of senior people don’t know what a non-exec actually does. Be prepared to teach them.

5. Be concise
Know and communicate exactly what you want from them and ask if they can help you. They are busy people usually and respect direct and to the point communication.

6. Don’t appear desperate
Don’t just take them on because of who they are. Make sure you can work with them and believe in the business. Remember their job is to serve the company and not you!

7. Ask someone in the industry
This doesn’t necessarily mean ask your competitor for advice, but asking someone who is in the same industry and maybe does what you do just slightly different, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People like to hedge their bets and at least you know they know their stuff. Just make sure you are protected by a strong non-disclosure.

Subscribe to industry newsletters and papers, this way you can find the names mentioned continuously and read the stories about them. Ask what this person can bring to your business and if they are of value if so find out how you can get in contact with them (probably LinkedIn).

9. Networking
Join networking clubs that attract that level of people and businesses. This can easily become a distraction, so make sure they are quality events where you are getting a good return on your investment and time.

Remember a non-executive director is on the board and their job is to help you, but also hold you accountable. Make sure you don’t pick a friend or family member. If you do, be ready to lose them if something goes wrong.

If you take anything away from reading this article let it be this – have the confidence to believe that having a non-executive work with you will benefit them just as much as it will benefit you.

Believe that your business is going to soar and others will follow.

Get in touch for more information on how to approach non-executive directors.

Director, Acceler8me.

#### Five Secrets to a Good Sales Strategy

Sales strategy is really about finding a solution for others, it’s about solving someone’s problem. Think about it, if you’ve gained their attention in the first place then you have something that they lack or need.

There is this huge stigma behind salespeople nagging or bugging bypassers or knocking door to door trying to get a sale, those days are behind us. There are so many other avenues to explore when it comes to selling, but really it is about retraining the mindset of the seller to convince the customer, to believe that this product will truly solve their problems.

If you keep that mindset when trying to sell a product, you will improve your sales tactic by 50%, as you’ll feel like you’re doing them a favour rather than them doing you a favour by buying the product!

“The most unprofitable item ever manufactured is an excuse.”John Mason

How are you going to sell? This isn’t an article telling you to get off your backside, swallow your pride and get out there, although I always agree that you should do that anyway, it’s about unlocking new truths and viewing selling in a different light. Here are some tips I’ve put together to improve your selling technique:

1. Have patience and constantly learn
This isn’t something that can be picked up easily, it comes with lots of practice and observation in order for you to find your own style and boundaries. Everyone is different, it’s the same when it comes to selling.

If you appear desperate then you will lose a lot of potential customers, start a conversation with them first that way you can read their body language and style of communication to see how you can win them over. Learn that some people just aren’t interested, know your boundaries and let go when needed.

3. KNOW the product
This is a lot easier when its a product that you’ve created, but with your sales team it’s so important for them to know the product inside out. Be careful though, you don’t want to seem like you’re just regurgitating information about the product like you’re reading it from a teleprompter, this is boring and just won’t work. This falls back onto my last tip about adapting, getting to know the customer first will help you know how you can adapt the product so that it appeals more to them. What would this person benefit the most from this product?

A good way to make sure you’re prepared in this area is to learn every possible question that can be asked about this product imaginable. Even the stupid ones, because there will be a few of those.

Always know what problem you are solving and how much pleasure, pain or enjoyment will this give them. How much is this worth to them and how much money will it save them. If you know how much you are helping someone out by, you know who you should be targeting and how to target them. That is your job done!

5. Grow thick skin
Yes, it is scary putting yourself out there, especially if it is your own project and therefore, your baby, but everyone has to start somewhere. I will save you some heartache here, you WILL get rejected, it’s all about the process. Don’t take it to heart and learn to take constructive criticism it will actually benefit you in the future.

Of course, this may not relate to your area specifically, we are living in a digital world so there is much more to it than what’s mentioned in this article.

Book a consultation today so we can talk more about what sales techniques, methods and areas we can try with your business now.

Happy selling!

Director, Acceler8me.

#### 9 Top Tips on How To Become ‘Investment Ready’

As Acceler8me offers consulting services for commercial funding, we’ve decided to put together a handy guide on how to become ‘investment ready’. Investors will hear about many potential investments during their time, so why should they give you the time of day? You need to make them see that YOU and your business ideas are investable! So…how do you get there? Just check out these 9 tips that will help you become investment ready;

If your business doesn’t look professional then no-one will take you seriously. Try and view your business from the investors and clients eyes – Would you use your service? Have an appealing website, up-to-date social media following and ensure that you have researched any potential competitors, what makes you different from them?

2) Have a strong to-the-point business plan

Don’t fill your business plan with unnecessary jargon. Keep it simple, easy to read and straight to the point. Use bullet points and headlines with descriptive paragraphs, not only will this help the investor follow your plans in a step-by-step format but, but it will display your efficiency, professionalism and determination.

3) Have numbers that are realistic and achievable

At this stage in the process, you may not have a clear idea of how well your business will do but investors will see right through any unrealistic targets that you set, it is best to stay honest, take it step by step and take it from there. Work out what you would have to achieve with the funding that you would get if granted in order for the investors to see a profit.

4)  Have a plan on how to scale the business

Be prepared for your business to perform well, How will you cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload? How will you maintain a good level of performance?

Who will benefit the most from your product or service? Plan how you’re going to sell to them. Visualize it as if you are the client – What would make you want to use a service or buy the product? Some great ways to perfect this is by conducting consumer research, you can do this by; producing and sending out online surveys, engage in focus groups, or do some public product testing. These will give you some target audience reviews and market feedback.

6) Have sales on the board

Action speaks louder than words, nothing will prove more that your product will sell than already having customers or clients. This shows that your business has interest, which can only grow to a wider audience. If there is a gap in the market that you are addressing then this is a great way to prove that the world needs your business.

Additionally, any feedback that you gain from your research is an opportunity to make any amendments to ensure more sales, before approaching investors.

7) Have a proof of concept

How will your service work? You will need to realise which certain methods work in order to demonstrate its feasibility. Investors want to see that your idea has worked in the market, or will work. Is what you are building actually possible. The further down the line you are the more relaxed investors will be.

8) Have a good advisory board

Ensure you have a group of individuals who have helped advise you on certain business issues you aren’t sure of such as; business issues including marketing, sales, finances etc. It’s great to have a good support network that you trust. Always surround yourself by people who know more than you. It is even better if these people can also bring in sales….

9) Have the right attitude

If your mental attitude is anything but positive when it comes to achieving your goals, and becoming an entrepreneur, then you will fail. You need to always believe in yourself and your business, even when times are hard and you are not seeing results straight away. Investors invest in the individual and not just the business. Stay determined, be passionate and strive for success at all times.

All these points are just a brief guideline into much detailed advice that we, at Acceler8e me, can help you with.

Get in touch with a member of the team today!

Director.

#### Why is a Strong Management Structure important?

Now, this topic is what I like to call, a no-brainer. Although, it’s something that needs to be addressed quite early on.  A strong management structure is crucial as it’s the infrastructure that guides you through success, especially with accelerated growth. As Acceler8me offers HR consulting services we’ve decided to put together a blog post on the importance of a strong management structure.

However, if you create a strong management structure then the business is being run on the backs of others who are hopefully well paid, valued and, because of the structure, are now replaceable individuals.

If you’re reading that and thinking “Oh, crap, I have created a business all about me” then it’s time to reevaluate your goals and standards. A business should revolve around its customers/clients, the service is what people need to remember it by, not the owner.

Let’s look at an example, say you hired a new member of staff if you had no management structure it would take you weeks of wasted time training them. Create a business where the standard speaks in the service, they should be instantly aware of the standard of work that is expected of them. Clear responsibilities need to be defined, with a standard that is met continuously. Honestly, this will truly help in the long run. Think about it, your business is being run exactly the way you wanted it to, with the standards you set, and is soaring in revenue, why not retire right there and then?!

A business owner can’t run a business forever, it’s just human nature, but that doesn’t mean that your business can’t run forever. If you have a strong management structure your business is more than likely to sustain itself because of the work put in by your team towards a succession plan that you envisioned for the future.

Don’t close yourself off by not letting your team in on the future plans, be transparent and gain help from all angles that you can. You might think you’re the star of the show, but at the end of the day, even Alan Sugar has a strong team behind him.

I’m well aware that business owners don’t like to think about this but, what about when things go wrong? Sorry to say, but they can do. If you have a strong team behind you who can help you come up with crisis plans or implement procedures so things can’t go wrong in the first place. They will think of things and bring in more resources that will help you in the long run. Plus, brainstorming meetings are highly effective when covering all the avenues that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, such as policies, government regulations, customer needs, economy, public interest etc.

Let think about this is a logical sense too, although it may seem expensive at first to maintain, they reduce your operating cost and save you money in the long run.

I talk about this a lot but it’s something that I truly believe in, staff will work harder if they feel valued. You can read my article here about (What is staff efficiency and why is it important? LINK). In summary, having an efficient, hard-working, loyal team increases productivity, allows them to be target-oriented and helps them see the business as their own.

Too often enough I witness entrepreneurs who forget what the business is about. It’s perfectly normal to become, in a way, protective over your business but the sooner you realise that not everybody is against you the better. This may not be something that you want to think about right now, especially when just starting out, but every entrepreneur should think about what they are leaving behind once they’ve gone. A perfect example of this would be huge chains such as KFC, McDonald’s, and Apple, they all have one thing in common: they’re built on a strong management structure and will continue forever, without the original director.

This shouldn’t be confused with just having a good management team, it’s about the infrastructure of this standard of the business that should be upheld at all times throughout time.

A good way to start building your management structure would be to think about where you see yourself in 20 years, are you still working for the company? If not, and then who is running your company? You won’t want to just pass on your business to any Tom, Dick and Harry, the only way entrepreneurs feel confident that they can pass on the baton is if they have built the management structure themselves. This way, your goals, vision and reputation will be upheld when you’re gone, and your business will, therefore, live forever.

Get in touch if you need more information regarding building your management structure. Every structure is different, depending on the area and stage of the business. Our professional team can work with you to develop, strategize and create the infrastructure you need to keep your business soaring.

Director, Acceler8me.

#### Who Is Your Target Market? – A Marketing Strategy Guide

Whenever someone starts a business the number one question any entrepreneur, director or company owner should continually ask themselves is;  “Who am I aiming to sell to?”.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself” – Peter F. Druker

‘Target Market’ refers to your perfect customer, and is an essential component of any marketing strategy. It takes into account marketing stereotypes and needs to be poignant. An example of this could be a sports fashion brand looking at women, aged 24 – 26 years old from the UK,  young professionals, middle-class background, no children, unmarried but dating. The more exact the better. This way we can identify the best way to target these people through marketing activities. What you have to remember it is you’re targeting a stereotype. This doesn’t mean we won’t sell to 60-year-old men who like to wear our women’s leggings, we just won’t target them.

Once the target market is identified only then can we work out a few more details; How we are going to target them? What price will they be willing to pay for what we are selling, What makes our leggings different to others? At the end of the day, there is a maximum price this person can afford and a minimum they will pay, we need to work out that happy medium.

So you’ve worked who your target market but that means nothing if you don’t appeal to them, as we won’t sell anything to them. How do we get their attention? Again, we refer back to our stereotypes; mid-twenties, young professionals we might consider targeting them through social media. Recent statistics have predicted that 70.7% of brands are on Instagram, almost 50% of Instagram users conduct product research on social media, and additionally, over a third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online– making them 70% more likely to do so than non-users (1). It is also extremely easy, in this day and age, to connect more with your target market. You can even try collaborating with a fitness ‘Insta-star’ who can get your brand noticed by advertising your product on their account.

If your target market was for an older generation you might take more of an old-fashioned approach by heading down to the shopping centres and doing more pop-up shops etc. This isn’t about discriminating by suggesting that ‘young people do the majority of shopping online now and won’t benefit from pop-ups anymore’ it’s just about stereotypes. We realise everyone is different but we need to tailor our selling technique to the statistics of the modern world, and it’s important to grow with the times.

This isn’t to say that your initial target market will stay the same forever, you might have to tweak it as you develop your brand further. This will all come with experience as you evolve and recognise what people want and what the gap in the market is. Stereotypes change all the time. The key to ensuring you are selling to your target market is by staying connected.

It’s absolutely fine if you are going into a business you have zero experience in, for instance, you do not have to be a huge fitness bug to sell protein shakes, if you are connected with those people who are, and recognise something that would work well for that target market then go for it!

We, at Accler8me, have a lot of experience with this – and we are there to help those who may not know one single thing on how to connect with their target market, as it may seem daunting at first. You are not going to know everything about business when you start off, we recognise that and help you come up with a structured plan on who your target market is, ideas on how you can appeal to these people, and what to do next.

Ensure that you get it right straight off the bat once you launch by getting in touch with a member of our team today.