Simon Bland in Investment


Start up, Sell Up, Scale Up: Creative Cities Birmingham Debates Access To Finance

Creative England, the IPA and Marketing Birmingham were joined by a panel of industry experts to discuss access to finance in the creative sector in Birmingham earlier this week.

The event, which also saw a congregation of local business owners and entrepreneurs in attendance, was the second in our series of Creative Cities sessions run in partnership with the IPA and The Drum

After a brief introduction by the IPA’s Director of Marketing Strategy Janet Hull, Creative England CEO Caroline Norbury began tonight’s panel discussion on the topic of unlocking private and public sector finance for creative businesses. 

Caroline was joined by Finance Birmingham’s Chief Investment Officer John Handley, Golant Media Ventures’ Chief Executive Patrick Towell, Action Starter CEO and founder David Roberts and Aston Business School’s Pro-Vice Chancellor George Feiger. 

How to make yourself more appealing to investors and which companies can be considered ‘creative’ in today’s ever-changing SME landscape kicked off the talk; with some reassuring words offered to companies who may be unsure where they sit within the sector. 

“I’m keen to push the boundaries of what’s considered creative,” proposed John Handley, hitting home Finance Birmingham’s ‘all are welcome’ approach. However, Aston Business School’s George Feiger quickly reminded the crowd that ultimately, it’s the ability to prove the longevity of your business that’ll catch an investor’s eye. 

“The single most important factor in selling a business is proving to the buyer that it’ll still exist when you’re gone,” said Feiger, suggesting entrepreneurs take the time to ensure their business is bigger (and more sustainable) than a just one or two founders. To help with this, Aston Business School offer support to new SMEs, with Feiger pointing attendees towards, a resource that offers mentoring and business plan advice. 

The ability to pivot your company rounded out the discussion, with our panel representative offering differing views. “I think you need to be quite fleet of foot,” suggested Handley, adding that companies should find out what’s not working and turn 90 degrees if needs be. Action Starter's David Roberts insisted that a company shouldn't be forced to change, however don't expect the idea not to crop up if you're on the search for cash. 

It was Feiger who balanced out the debate, reminding attendees that a pivot isn't necessarily a negative thing and that there's plenty of virtue to learning from experience. 

As Wednesday’s panel drew to a close it was clear that access to finance remains a topic that's on the minds of small businesses and entrepreneurs, both regionally and nationally. 

Whatever route you decide to take, Wednesday's panel discussion proved that it's essential to know what type of finance will suit your company, how it'll impact its future and that your business is in top shape before you go knocking on the doors of financiers. 

Find out more about Creative Cities by visiting our new online content portal in partnership with The Drum. 

For more information on Access To Finance, visit our business page

  • Creative Industries
  • Creative England
  • Access to Finance