New initiative encourages Scottish business owners to know their numbers
Craig Alexander Rattray, a Glasgow-based growth strategist and cash expert, is launching a new initiative to help SME owners take better control of their businesses.
A part-time finance director to many ambitious growing companies, the former venture capitalist and corporate financier has spent more than half his career successfully running his own business and is using that experience to set up Know Your Numbers, an online group programme based on the Mastermind principle.
The two-hour monthly meetings and additional one-hour clinics for each of the two groups will be focused on helping entrepreneurs gain a better understanding of how knowing their numbers can improve the company’s performance and their personal wealth.
‘Create and Develop’ is open to owners with less than three years’ experience with a turnover up to £1 million. While ‘Growth and Enhancement’ is geared towards owners of companies with a turnover between £1m-£20m and at least three years’ experience of being at the helm.
Group membership will be limited and to be considered, owners need to be ambitious, want to learn and grow their own business while at the same time be willing to share their own experiences, good and bad.
Mr Rattray, owner of CR Corporate Solutions, said: “I understand the needs and concerns of business owners and what keeps them awake at night.
“Over the last six months, it became clear from the businesses engaging with me, that there is a real lack of understanding of financial information and how to fund businesses.
“Many were struggling to navigate their way through the complexities of company finances as a result of a lack of financial knowledge and information, and visibility of forward trading. That uncertainty left them in a position of weakness in terms of securing funding from banks and investors, and basically understanding where they are and where they are going.
“This uncertainty means business owners are unable to plan ahead with a proper strategy and do the right thing for their business. However, if owners know their numbers and have a clear road map going forward then they will know their businesses. The aim of these groups is to help people run their businesses properly from a financial perspective by taking the stress and confusion away from accounts, finance and cash while encouraging a change of mindset to a more forward-looking focus. The programme will also empower them to obtain proper funding to allow them to meet their future growth and exit aspirations.
“One group will deal with issues that early stage start-ups often experience, and they can be quite different challenges to those the more well-established businesses come across. The first three months will be free and if the members find the sessions useful, there will be the opportunity to continue in the groups on an extended basis.”
According to Mr Rattray, many business owners have been hampered in their bid to recover from the effects of the pandemic by poor financial advice and a lack of financial knowledge, something he aims to address with the Know Your Numbers programme.
He continued: “Over the last two years during the pandemic I have been trying to educate business owners as it became apparent they were being inadequately advised due to an emphasis on looking back rather than looking forward.
“Most owners of SMEs with turnovers from £1m-£20m are overworked, as are their staff and cash is always tight. That’s because they are not properly funded; they don’t understand it and their accountants haven’t properly explained the benefits of real time management accounts and information, historic accounts and, more importantly, forecasts.
“If owners don’t have that information then they can’t engage with banks, they won’t get funding - cash will always remain tight. If people know their numbers, though, they have proper up-to-date information and forecasts and can engage with the banks and obtain appropriate working capital facilities. They will have visibility, clarity and certainty, have control of their business and work out where they’re going and make better decisions from a position of knowledge.
“As a result, business owners can be proactive rather than reactive and improve profitability, cash flow and shareholder value.
“When it comes down to it, the difference between a successful business and an unsuccessful one is all in the numbers. They don’t judge, they don’t make sales, and they don’t hire new team members but they do tell a story. They tell the story of where owners have been, where they are now, and where they may end up in the future.
“Know Your Numbers is all about educating and giving the power back to the business owner, and to allow them to run their business with more certainty and visibility. Thereafter it is what the owners do with that knowledge and how they implement it in their business by making better decisions.”
The application process opens tomorrow and closes on 11 April.