Could 'angel investors' help more UK SMEs follow the Rise Management Consulting model of Brexit-proofing?
Despite lingering uncertainty around the UK's Brexit future, recent statistics have shown that Britain's small and medium sized businesses are continuing to rise above the parapet.
Various schemes for SMEs have raised billions despite political uncertainty, including new investments and company growth. This has only been helped by the fact that the UK was named the European leader both in venture capital investment and private equity in the first half of the year.
The Enterprise Investment Scheme established between 2017 and 2018 raised £1.9 billion, while new innovations in the technology sector are expected to create millions of UK jobs post-Brexit, with tech start-ups proving particularly attractive for foreign investors.
Indeed, research showed that £5.5 billion has gone into such businesses from foreign investors in the first seven months of this year.
However, to help more businesses looking to take their business ventures overseas, some critics believe that the government and investors could offer more help.
Jenny Tooth, CEO of the UK Business Angels Association, credits small firms in the UK for their "resilience and optimism" over the last three years, but she insists more can be done to "ensure that this ambition creates the jobs and growth" that the UK economy needs.
Tooth said: "Whether it comes from increased government support or from private investors, it is hugely important to provide the funds to help SMEs grow".
Tooth's suggestion was to enable so-called "angel investors" to not only provide funds but to provide advice and guidance to SMEs who plan to go overseas.
She added: "One source of funds that are ideally placed for this task is angel investors, who not only offer finance but also the expertise and experience to help entrepreneurs to seize opportunities and start life outside of the UK in a positive fashion."
London based management consultancy firm Rise Management Consulting, established since 2011, appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review as a best practice representative and disclosed details behind how its business model had helped circumvent the economic difficulties of Brexit.
Bob White and CEO Gareth Stapleton wrote how this undertaking not only involved expanding its reach within its comfort zone of project management into Europe and further afield, but also by innovating and developing new services and products to offer to other sectors, including the lucrative technology industry.
Its initial strategy involved tapping into its established network abroad, which "resulted in new activities in the Far East, as well as the completion of projects in the Middle East", one of which included an award-winning new hotel build in Oman for the Kempinski company.
However, for those businesses operating without an established network abroad, angel investors may provide a tangible solution to help them venture abroad and build the business relationships they need to survive and thrive.
Nevertheless, even if angel investors may help SMEs take the key first steps in establishing themselves abroad, the need for innovation within business still cannot be understated and the Rise model is one which other SMEs can draw inspiration from and build on foundations laid abroad.
As White and Stapleton point out, Rise's activities out of Europe raised its profile enough to encourage growth within Europe. As a result, a number of European managers have been employed by the group, tempted by the "attractive" opportunity of "living in the UK and working in their home country". This is the growth area of their business which remains vulnerable, prompting the need for innovation.
Highlighting the demand for data centres, given that large technology-based companies need to be seen to collect data in a "transparent, safe and approved manner", Rise saw an opportunity.
The firm has now positioned itself as a "consultant and potential delivery team" for new data centres worldwide and is active within the field in both the UK and Europe, while building its network west and across the Atlantic into the US.