Inspiring growth among Scotland’s small businesses

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A major conference this month aims to help Scotland’s most promising small businesses overcome big challenges to growth and realise their full potential.

The Inspiring Growth event will look in detail at funding difficulties and broader business challenges when small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) want to move on to the next level.

Appointedd's Leah Hutcheon will be among the speakers at the Inspiring Growth conference. Picture: Chris Watt

Appointedd's Leah Hutcheon will be among the speakers at the Inspiring Growth conference. Picture: Chris Watt

Leaders of some of Scotland’s most exciting small businesses – including Leah Hutcheon from online booking app Appointedd and Petra Wetzel of West Brewery – will describe their own journeys at the Scotsman Conferences event on 22 March.

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“Scotland has 350,000 SMEs, providing around 1.2 million jobs – but many of them fail because they cannot get over funding hurdles or scale up their business effectively,” said Laura Gordon of Vistage International, who will chair the conference.

“There is a lot of support and advice out there, but sometimes it just seems too overwhelming. This event aims to bring together a lot of that practical advice, but more importantly, to hear from inspiring SMEs who have been on that journey and made it through to the other side.”

Stuart Lunn, chief executive of alternative finance specialist LendingCrowd, sponsor of Inspiring Growth, said there was a clear message from SMEs that they needed access to non-traditional funding sources to grow.

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He said: “The big high street banks still dominate when it comes to the financing of SMEs, but senior executives from our growing client base tell us they need other avenues of funding to grow at the pace required to keep competitive – and that this is not always possible when relying on traditional lending routes.

“This provides us with a big opportunity, with a nimble and flexible approach allowing us to assess deals on a case-by-case basis and in much quicker time – something very appealing to fast-growing companies where speed of process is paramount.”

The conference is also sponsored by law firm Harper Macleod, whose partner Paula Skinner will draw on her wide experience of advising SMEs to move beyond funding and discuss the broader challenges to small businesses looking to scale up and grow.

Inspiring Growth: Alternatives to Take Your Business to the Next Level takes place on the morning of Wednesday 22 March at the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.

Cabinet secretary for the economy, Keith Brown, will open the event by discussing the significance of SMEs to the Scottish economy, while Derek Shaw will explain the Scottish Investment Bank’s first foray into alternative finance.

Small and growing businesses will discuss the opportunities presented by the tech sector, exports and e-commerce. Tickets are £59 + VAT for the half-day event and can be booked at scotsmanconferences.com

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