Albeit that PAOGA is my 9th start-up I am very aware that the market changes significantly so ‘experience’ needs to be constantly challenged and lessons learnt. For that reason I was pleased to attend ‘Building the next generation of growth and wealth in the UK and Europe’ event last week hosted by Michael Tinmouth, Editor of Entrepreneur Country, at the offices of Smith & Williamson.
Duncan Cheatle, co-founder of StartUP Britain amongst others, reminded me of the basics:
- Positioning – Know the big picture and have a clear vision which everyone in the business buys into and can repeat.
- Offering – Price high but don’t overdeliver – measure in real time.
- Planning & Risk – Know your exit strategy and maximise your capital value.
- People – Make yourself redundant or, in my words – attract, retain and reward people who are better than you.
David Scholtz, Associate Director at Ariadne Capital, stressed the importance of ‘telling a story’ in the Business Plan in addition to the fundamentals of Objectives, Strategies, Market and Financial Forecasts as well as answering the questions – Why? What? When? Who? How?
Travers Clarke-Walker, Product & Marketing Director at Barclays Bank maintains that it is government legislation and regulation which is the biggest inhibitor for SME’s not availability of funding. Automating much of that bureaucracy to facilitate compliance is PAOGA’s objective.
Given that SME’s generate 80% of the UK GDP and are a significant employer it would be useful if government could meet us halfway and reduce some of the unnecessary paperwork. To that end government online services are improving rapidly.
Adrian Walton, Director, Tax Services to Business at Smith & Williamson, provided detailed information regarding the benefits of EIS registration and the recent improvements introduced by government. For qualifying investors it means Income Tax relief up front, CGT exemption after 3 years, CGT deferral relief and IHT exemption if held for 2 years.
Investors – take note. PAOGA is EIS registered.
Darren Hopper, Head of SME Propositions at Orange UK, obviously emphasised the increasing importance to businesses of mobile communications ‘Any time, any place, any device’.
I would add that this is increasingly important to individuals as consumers, citizens, patients etc and is also very much part of our technology vision.
As we are currently in discussion with potential investors I thought it worthwhile to run a credit check on PAOGA Limited - I was horrified to find that the report eroneously reported a share capital less than 2% of the correct figure. Not a good message to give to prospective investors carrying out due diligence and highlights the danger of inaccuracies in government data which affects us all.
This is precisely why PAOGA believes that individuals and companies need an easy way to check data held on them with the ability to 'contest' and have such errors corrected - it could be your job application, loan or mortgage that is denied because of a data input typing error.
So - time well spent, lessons learnt and contacts made. Never think that, in the digital age, face-to-face meetings and communications are not necessary.