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Three steps to raising early-stage finance

Three lessons learned about early-stage funding by Shamin Hoque, founder of CurriesOnline

Find out three lessons learned about raising finance in the early stages of establishing a business, as explained by founder of takeaway business CurriesOnline, Shamin Hoque

Accessing government help

With the government currently focused on helping small businesses and start-ups, there are plenty of finance and support schemes available (almost 800 in fact, according to this exhaustive list on the government’s website).

CurriesOnline is currently part of the government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which is designed to help smaller companies raise finance by offering a range of tax reliefs to investors who purchase new shares in those companies. This has really opened doors for us with private investors and allowed us to request larger sums of money from them. This means we stay in control while having backing from the government.

Working with finance specialists

Investing in good finance people – a good accountant or financial director – is crucial to the success of any business. Banks want to see a real understanding of a business’ cashflow, so you need someone strong in that department. Financiers maintain certain core procedures and if you have someone who understands those procedures you’ll find it easier to access funding.

Know when to give away equity

I wouldn’t recommend giving away equity in the early stages. It might give you the cash to kick-start your business, but there will be an element of wastage as you find your feet. And what’s the point of giving away half of what you have worked for before you even know what it’s worth?

Of course, it can be tempting when bills start coming through the door, but if you can hold off, have faith in your business and establish it over two or three years, then you’ll be in a much stronger position to give away equity.

A year ago we realised that we have a solid business model and need to scale, and that is the best point at which to consider giving away equity. You have a proven concept so you are a lot more appealing to investors, but you are also in a much stronger position to negotiate. That’s what we have done.

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