09/08/2012

By Kevin Byrne, MD and owner of Checkatrade.com

The days of looking for and relying on the financial institutions to fund growth are all but gone in this present climate. The only sure way to fund growth and expansion is from retained earnings. Having a firm hold on the financial affairs of your own company with careful budgeting has enabled us to take the Checkatrade service across the whole of the UK with no external financial help.

You would have thought that the best avenue would initially be your local high street bank that knows your history but this is not my experience. Some of the smaller less well known banks still operate with the person that sees you: makes the decision. If you can find one of these you may be heading in the right direction.

To me an entrepreneur is very much a self-motivator and having or not having money will have little to do with the actual act of starting. The key is cash flow, not so much to push the company forward as most of this can be done by the efforts of the individual, but to feed and house the start-up entrepreneur and their family. As long as this is covered the real entrepreneur can act.

For me when I started Checkatrade I had a carpet cleaning machine and some skills in graphic design. I continued to work on both of these at weekends/evenings and the odd day to meet my family’s needs. This continued for around 6 years, during this time most of the revenue the company brought in went straight back into marketing.

Some suggest re-mortgage your family home, I simply didn’t see the need to do this and for any entrepreneur thinking of doing this I advise them to take council on their business plan, find a mentor that will tell them straight on the risks and potential of their business. Unfortunately most start-up businesses are based on emotion and passion, great motivators but even with both of these if the public don’t want it, you’ll fail. I’ve been approached a few times and thought about Investment Angels but this is selling your soul and you will lose some if not all of your direction over time.

My advice is; find a mentor who can speak into your life, keep your day job in the early months or work self-employed to finance your family. Don’t sell your heart and soul to investors, look for a bank loan but don’t bank on one. Most of all work hard and work smart and go with your gut instinct.