Monday saw the launch of Ambition Nation, finnCap’s new nationwide initiative to help ambitious companies grow and consider all their funding options. Ambition Nation was launched at the London Stock Exchange, where finnCap had the privilege of holding the Market Open ceremony. Here, finnCap CEO Sam Smith recaps her opening speech.
What if we could get all businesses in the UK to think big, and to be bigger? And what if, as a nation, we could get everybody to be more ambitious?
finnCap is here to deliver an Ambition Nation. For us, this is to inspire, to educate and to fuel growth for as many businesses in the UK as we can.
Inspiring with stories of ambition
From our Ambition Nation report, which we launched about two weeks ago, two key stats stood out:
- We interviewed 1,000 SMEs and 70% of them are positive about the British economy. I am one of those, which is something you might not think from reading the press.
- 91% say they’re growing in 2018. finnCap will definitely be one of those.
finnCap’s just had its best year ever and we believe that’s because of our own ambitions as a team, and also the ambitions of our clients.
Only a small percentage know about the many sources of financing available
From AIM to Ambition
Ambition Nation was borne out of AIM High, a campaign we launched two years ago, to get out to as many businesses as possible to educate them about the benefits of IPOs, and about raising capital and growing. Over that time we’ve been out to many regions and met many different groups of people. Three things really stood out for us that made us think we wanted to take this campaign to a much bigger sphere. These were the factors that led to finnCap launching Ambition Nation:
- Knowledge is key – At most of the events, a very small percentage of the people there really knew anything about AIM, and in fact knew very little about the many sources of financing available to them. We went to Cambridge and visited a leading business school, which was teaching students about how to raise capital and where to go for exit. They didn’t actually mention the IPO route in any of their discussions. We were quite gobsmacked by this and realised there was quite a lot of work to do.
- We needed to reach more companies – The people turning up to these events already knew they wanted to raise finance; we needed to get to those companies that weren’t thinking about raising finance. Why is that so important? Well, only 40% of scale-up companies raise external finance. Lots of these businesses are not growing as fast as they otherwise could. What could we do to just shift that percentage even a small amount? That message also came out of our Female Entrepreneurs event, which started because very few women IPO their business; the stats so far this year indicate just 3 out of 70 have done so. But that discussion moved into another area, which was that women don’t tend to raise external finance at all – the numbers are actually much, much lower. What could we do as a firm to bring up that percentage of females wanting to raise money and grow faster?
- Ambition breeds ambition – What really became clear from all our events was that the most inspiring things were stories of others who done it before. That’s what left CEOs wanting to grow and start asking the questions about raising money – for instance, we had Charles Rolls, co-founder of Fever Tree come to speak, and Angus Thirwell of Hotel Chocolat, who went on to provide yet more fascinating insights at our Ambition Nation launch at the London Stock Exchange. All those stories inspired and fuelled others up to grow.
We wanted to take this campaign to a much bigger sphere
Fuelling my ambition
From finnCap’s experience, and my own, what has fuelled my own ambition is other people – hearing other CEOs and getting ideas from them.
For example, one member of our panel at the London Stock Exchange was Jon Moulton, who finnCap fortunately acquired as a Chairman seven years ago. He inspired me to think bigger and come up with new ideas; he currently backs over 120 private businesses in the UK, so there’s not much that Jon doesn’t know about sectors and the challenges of business.
Also in attendance at our Ambition Nation launch was Vin Murria, who I consider to be my unofficial mentor and who we brought on board as Deputy Chairman at finnCap recently. Every time I’ve been out with Vin – no matter how long – I’m left supercharged with ideas, energy and enthusiasm.
And finally in our audience were Linzi Boyd and Darren Shirlaw, founders of the BoB Group. About two years ago, I heard an amazing presentation from them at Google, at an event dedicated to supercharging growth. We’ve worked with them ever since, looking at our brand and really getting to the nub of how we can think bigger. It has been fundamental to us moving the business forward.
What has fuelled my own ambition is other people – hearing other CEOs
The next generation of entrepreneurs
That’s a snapshot of a few of the people that for me personally have been instrumental to my ambition and the growth of finnCap. I think every company should have its version of this kind of network.
We’re taking the next step in growing British enterprise
I believe the key to fuelling growth is talking to as many businesses as possible, giving them the knowledge about the investment landscape to be confident, and inspiring with stories of ambition.
The group that filled the room at the launch of finnCap Ambition Nation is that which will help kick start the next generation of entrepreneurs. We’re taking the next step in growing British enterprise by telling those inspirational stories of success and building a dynamic community of achievers.
That’s Ambition Nation. I’d love you to be part of it.
Sam Smith, CEO, finnCap
If you would like to know more about Ambition Nation or you know of inspirational stories of growth success that you would like to share, contact finnCap today.