In all types and sizes of business, technological developments are driving efficiencies in previously time-consuming day-to-day activities. This trend is particularly evident in the accounting activities of smaller businesses, allowing owners and entrepreneurs to invest more time into proactively using financial information, rather than just producing it. In turn, this heightens the importance of having trusted expert professional partners who can listen, advise and support owners in achieving their strategic ambitions.
Cottons Corporate Finance understands this demand and sees a growing opportunity to use their expertise in assisting business owners to delve deeper into their business, helping drive it forward in more effective ways.
Comprising of Corporate Finance Director Guy Pain, Corporate Finance Manager Paula Carter and Corporate Finance Executive Adam Schofield, the team is keen to work with businesses as they evolve throughout their lifetime.
Key business milestones may range from the initial concept of a business idea, the start-up phase, growth and development (organic or via acquisitions) through to the eventual sale of a business. Particularly during these uncertain times, the team recognises the importance of providing professional support and a partnership to owners as they navigate, what is for many, unchartered territory.
The broad experience of the Cottons Corporate Finance team ensures that each of these milestones is carefully planned for and well executed. Often, this starts with a conversation over coffee, long before the technical need for their expertise comes into play.
“Developing strong working partnerships are the most important thing,” said Guy Pain. “Within the business, there are many specific services that will be of help to businesses, but just as important is that a business owner can turn to us for advice. I’ve long felt that the kind of expertise that small to small/medium firms need is sometimes missing in our sector.
“But there are many ways we can help, right throughout the life span of a business, and we’re always happy to sit down and work out what it is they need.”
Key milestones may require funding, and another focus of Cottons Corporate Finance is the ability to identify and secure the right funding option at each stage. Examples include crowdfunding and tax-efficient options such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS).
Given their entrepreneurial nature, small businesses inevitably cover a wide range of products, services and disciplines – some keen to build on what they do best, with others determined to continually diversify and develop new ideas.
The success of either approach is dependent on a capable and motivated workforce. Cottons Corporate Finance is also able to advise owners on implementing highly tax-efficient employee share schemes, proven to be an excellent way of rewarding and retaining key individuals.
Paula Carter said: “Starting or growing your business, while exciting, can also be daunting. Entrepreneurs frequently find themselves stepping into the unknown so expert friendly financial advice is often key to success. It is not uncommon for small businesses to feel they aren’t ready to approach what they see as a large accountancy practice, believing they won’t be able to afford their guidance, or that the practice won’t be interested in their business because it’s too small.
“For our team, that’s not the case at all and we are keen to develop those long-term partnerships that see our services come in as and when the client needs them to achieve their ultimate ambitions.”
Corporate strategy – from formulating business plans and financial forecasts to looking at the ways of raising finance, and schemes like EIS and SEIS to fund start-up or growth. Advice is also provided on strategic development to ensure efficient business management, the minimisation of costs and the development of new opportunities.
Accountancy practice – colleagues at sister organisation Cottons Accountants are on hand to advise and act with regard to the traditional accountancy and taxation services a business would expect from an accountant.
Valuations – with regard to acquisitions, disposals, matrimonial and probate issues.
Business acquisitions – advice on valuation and due diligence issues.
Pre-disposal – helping plan ahead, up to three years in advance, for the sale of a business. It’s important to get all aspects in order, from the lease terms on buildings to the future of the employees (including use of employee share schemes) and organisational structure. Proper planning will make the business a much more attractive proposition to prospective buyers.
Exit strategies and disposal – there are myriad options, from third party disposals, management buy outs, private equity sales and Employee Ownership Trusts. Expert advice on the advantages and disadvantages of each is vital. What is also critical is that the departing owner remains focused on the success of the business while the disposal process is ongoing – the business needs to remain strong throughout.
Guy Pain said: “The corporate finance team are focused on smaller owner-managed businesses and we understand the needs and challenges they face and aim to help them gain a competitive and strategic advantage. I’ve been in corporate finance for over 40 years and during that time I have built up an enormous number of contacts in all kinds of areas to whom we can turn for help and advice.
“Whether we are engaged for a single transaction or on a longer-term basis to provide support as and when it is needed, we aim to understand clients’ objectives and work with them to identify and implement a strategy that meets their wishes – a friendly and expert hand whenever we are needed.”
Article recently featured in All Things Business - https://allthingsbusiness.co.uk/2021/04/01/trusted-partners-who-listen-advise-and-support/