The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced many business owners and potential business owners to rethink their strategy. As time goes on, people are realising that a business that is not only able to continue operating during times of crisis, but actually thrives, is the type of business they need to focus on building.
This week, we caught up with AFA Member Stephen Sacks, founder of Funding Nav, a funding management company that helps small and medium businesses to become more profitable and cash generative.
As well as being an experienced business owner and entrepreneur, Stephen is also a successful author. His first book, ‘Reboot Your Business’, was published in 2018 and is a step-by-step guide to reinventing your business for maximum growth. He is currently writing his second book, which specifically covers investing and how people who have exited their businesses, for whatever reason, can invest in start-up, scale-up and turnaround businesses.
Funding Nav was founded three years ago with the aim of helping businesses that have more ambition than cash to realise their vision and achieve their goals and objectives. Stephen and his team do this in four ways:
- Advise and consult on funding strategies
- Offer access to free sources of capital, including tax credits and grant funding, delivering cash to businesses at the lowest cost, in the fastest time and at the lowest risk
- Work with debt providers, such as banks and other relevant lenders
- Help business to sell equity.
Offering quick, flexible and good-value lending from their panel of two hundred lenders, Funding Nav can raise funds of £10,000 up to £5 million, packaging this in the most efficient and cost effective way.
Stephen and his partners made the decision to franchise the business in February 2019. However, they did not manage to attract any franchise partners at all until February this year, just before the country went into lockdown, when they recruited their first one.
He says, “We’d been advertising on various, online franchise directories since we decided to franchise the business but hadn’t had much of a response at all. As soon as we went into lockdown, we suddenly started seeing some interest, as people began to look for a business they could run remotely, with services that were sure to be in demand during these uncertain times.”
Funding Nav was delighted by the increased interest in their franchise, which resulted in the recruitment and subsequent, virtual training of eight, further franchise partners during lockdown.
Although Stephen admits the assistance and loans offered by the government during the pandemic has had an adverse effect on the bottom end of his market, he believes the pandemic has been good for the business in two ways. Firstly, more businesses are looking for alternative forms of funding, which is only set to increase once the government loans become repayable towards the end of the year. Also, despite many businesses being hit badly, some have found windows of opportunity and are looking to take advantage of that. Secondly, Funding Nav was able to quickly demonstrate that the franchise would not be disadvantaged in any way by working remotely.
“Your first franchisee is always going to be the most difficult one to recruit because there’s no proof of concept,” says Stephen. “After we got the first one to work, we were in a position where the prevailing situation was improving but we were also at a stage where we could start developing our own track record. At that point, we ramped up our marketing spend.”
Funding Nav’s new franchisees are extremely busy and already experiencing success, as more businesses look to secure alternative forms of funding. One partner, in particular, is currently working on a life-changing deal that could net him seven figures in the first year, which Stephen says is way beyond his expectations.
The franchise operates on a non-territorial basis, allowing franchisees to build their business without the limitations of physical boundaries, instead focusing on the sectors in which they have experience.
“I‘d already decided I didn’t want territories and COVID has only reinforced that. All of our work over the past few months has been done remotely, so what’s the point of territories?” says Stephen. “It makes more sense to deal with businesses within a sector you understand.”
The emphasis of the Funding Nav franchise package focuses on providing leads. With their own lead-generating machine, their target is to provide five, qualified leads per day per franchise partner. In addition to this, franchise partners are responsible for their own marketing activities within their relevant sectors. Stephen believes this is the fundamental reason why Funding Nav is succeeding so well in the current market and experiencing much bigger growth than its competitors.
He says, “The biggest concern that potential franchisees have, in my experience, is where the leads come from. The primary difference between Funding Nav and other, white collar franchises out there is that others teach you a skill, such as coaching or auditing and, as long as you can find clients, it’s assumed you will convert that skill into money. The first skill we teach is how to find clients. How you convert those clients into money is a secondary skill, as far as we’re concerned. So, our approach is entirely different and, therefore, 80% of the training we give, and the subsequent support afterwards, is about generating business.”
Along with a significant amount of training, the Funding Nav franchise package also includes access to their CRM system; peer-to-peer learning within the network and regular team meetings, normally with outside speakers or service providers. You are the owner of your own, independent business but operate within a nurturing, supportive environment.
Stephen says the ideal Funding Nav franchise partner needs to have excellent sales skills and the ability to empathise with people whose businesses are not running as efficiently as they should.
“Failed businessmen are ideal!” he says, “We’re looking for people who have been through the mill themselves and experienced the rough with the smooth, especially the rough. This will mean they understand the pain, stress and uncertainty this causes so can help others to avoid the mistakes they made themselves.”
If you have business management experience and are highly driven with a determination to succeed, Funding Nav wants to hear from you!
Tel: 020 7117 2596