Taking your business to the next level

    Growth requires more than better access to funding – it needs a focus on developing management to ensure that all the stages are fully thought through.


    Digital innovators, new tech start-ups and other companies can struggle to attract the right investors to help scale up their business often because the business plan isn’t fully articulated. We talked to Lee Atkinson, a relationship director at Barclays, about his advice for businesses in the South looking to grow and expand.

    “Helping our business customers to grow underpins everything we do at Barclays,” said Atkinson. “We’ve sponsored the Southern Tech 100 Awards for over five years, to recognise those companies who are making that transition to delivering a greater economic impact in our region.”

    But, despite high growth potential, many companies struggle to turn their ideas and ambitions into realised growth. Every business is different, yet they often face the same challenges.

    “Most firms would identify access to capital as perhaps their key obstacle to growth,” Atkinson said. “However, that access is linked to a more fundamental issue which is particularly acute for high-growth  companies.  Fully articulating the business plan from where they are now to when the business becomes profitable along with what investment is needed when and why.”

    While many entrepreneurs are passionate and highly skilled in multiple areas, they often lack the bandwidth to think strategically about the changes required to realise their growth ambitions. According to Colin Oakman from the Cambridge Judge Business School: “Funding might not even be necessary, once you’ve built your full growth plan.”

    Now in its second year, the Barclays Scale Up UK Programme is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and Barclays. It’s designed to help high-potential companies develop their organisation’s managerial skills, including core areas like strategy, marketing, growth models, operational excellence, recruitment and funding.

    “Having a strong, highly-skilled and motivated management and leadership team is vital to scaling up any business,” Atkinson said. “Entrepreneurial companies are incredibly agile and often pivot, which can present funding challenges unlike those seen with larger corporations. As a result investors are obviously conservative when lending or investing – The Barclays Scale Up UK Programme addresses this core challenge and gives guidance on how to engage properly with potential investors, while demonstrating the managerial capability to expand.” 

    Delivered by world-class thought leaders and industry practitioners, the Barclays Scale Up UK Programme involves an on-site diagnostic visit to really understand your organisation’s needs. Through the individually tailored programme, management teams are guided to identify their business value proposition and design a sustainable business model, as well as strengthen their financial literacy and enhance their leadership skills.

    “The programme delivers an academic structure and business knowledge that helps leaders to think strategically about growing their business in the long term,” Atkinson said.

    Over 12 weeks, through a combination of one and two-day workshops, participants work to formulate, articulate and implement a growth plan designed for their business. The programme has a strong emphasis on peer-to-peer learning to help foster best practice and gain insight from other participants.

    To be able to take part in the programme, businesses must have scale-up potential with an ambitious growth trajectory. The founding team should be entrepreneurial, determined, broad-minded with a management team who are committed to develop themselves along with their business.

    There are three stages to applying to take part in the programme. After completing an online application form, there is a short telephone interview with a member of the Cambridge Judge Business School team and an in-depth review of the financial, strategic and growth potential of your business. This is to ensure that the programme is right for your business and will add real value.

    “It’s given us access to tools and techniques that are already influencing and accelerating our business growth,” said Graham Place, director of Box Architects and programme participant. “I would highly commend the Barclays Scale Up UK Programme to any business owner seeking to proactively grow their business.”

    Barclays Bank PLC is registered in England (Company No. 1026167) with its registered office at 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP. Barclays Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority, and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Register No. 122702) and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Barclays is a trading name and trade mark of Barclays PLC and its subsidiaries.