You don’t have to be special to seek investment

Mar 02, 2018 / Ambition Nation Media

With two weeks to go until Ambition Nation: Female Leaders Series, the latest video in our ‘Business Leaders on Growth’ series hears from one of our speakers, Shelley Hoppe, CEO and founder of award-winning content marketing agency Southerly.

The agency is currently scaling up. Offering her advice to other entrepreneurs in similar situation, Shelley says: “Taking investment is a natural thing to do… what I’ve learned is every business can take investment and hearing other people’s stories can help you see that.”

Watch the interview below:

Shelley will be one of our panellists at the Female Leaders Series speaking to business leaders in the scale-up company size bracket.

Seeking growth capital

Shelley built up Southerly on her own mettle, teaching herself to run a company and all the alien activities that are associated with doing so. Now with Southerly firmly in the investment funnel and growing fast, Shelley offers her advice to founders starting out in business that might be unsure about the prospect of taking on external growth capital. She also explains what new female CEOs in particular should expect from an undeniably male-dominated investment landscape.

“You find yourself surrounded by very ‘alpha’ men throughout the process, who are very used to doing this over and over again,” says Shelley. “It can be quite intimidating… you can feel like you’re the one who doesn’t know how it works. My advice would be don’t worry – ask lots of questions. You’re still learning and there’s no reason to be ashamed of that.”

In the earlier-stage company space, as our recent return with Ambition Nation to the North West pointedly demonstrated this week, there is a fundamental need to create a better educational, support and advisory network for scale-up companies. This is part of what Ambition Nation is geared towards achieving.

Growing the scale-ups

The UK is excellent at supporting our start-ups – we are third in the world for start-up growth, but we sit in 13th place globally for growth in the scale-up phase. When things move up a gear, our entrepreneurs lack the basic advice and support for best to carry on that growth journey and find the right outside investment. In particular, investment in female-led businesses leaves even more to be desired.

Taking external investment is a normal, natural part of the growth process, but scale-up can sometimes feel like you’re relinquishing some of your control. This doesn’t need to be the case and in many ways just a little reassurance to stay your course is all that is needed to inspire confidence in your growth plans. Hearing the experiences of ambitious entrepreneurs like Shelley that can empathise with your challenges and provide the right advice is how we enable more and more ambitious businesses to think big, and become even bigger.

Companies that seek to access growth capital aren’t anything special; what is special is discovering where that capital takes you next.

To watch more interviews from our Business Leaders of Growth series, click here.

To share your stories of growth or to find out how you can be involved in Ambition Nation, contact us on