Addressing SMEs Concerns for their Financial Future

With 99% of businesses in the EU falling under the “small business” umbrella, it is easy to see why many consider them to be the backbone of the economy. As well as powering the economy, these businesses make important contributions to innovation, employment and accelerating economic growth.

Yet, despite their importance, banks have continued to reduce or outright deny vital funding to many SMEs – a factor that has only worsened since the 2008 financial crisis. This has left many SMEs concerned for their financial future. Largely, banks are failing to provide the funding solutions SMEs so desperately need, and even those who do manage to access financing from a bank often find that borrowing is a cumbersome, inflexible and time-consuming process which diverts their attention from their business.

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Ultimately, the current situation is unsustainable. As SMEs provide two-thirds of private sector jobs across the continent and contribute more than half of the total value created by businesses across the European Union, more needs to be done to overcome market deficiencies.

To solve this problem, there has been the emergence of alternative lenders, like Capital on Tap. Whether its term loans, credit cards or invoice factoring – more of these services are being provided by non-bank lenders like ourselves and as a result we are the increasingly popular choice among SMEs.

At Capital on Tap, we offer highly automated decision engines, transparency on pricing and excellent customer service, and unlike with bank-backed funding options, our customers receive funds in hours or days, rather than weeks or months. Additionally, as alternative lenders, we continue to innovate and work on robust technology platforms, which give businesses easier access to information and lower operating expenses. We find that once SMEs start using these alternative solutions, they tend to stick around for a long time as they prefer it to their bank.

Given the uncertainty of Brexit and other economic clouds gathering, SMEs need funding certainty now more than ever. Thanks to alternative lenders like Capital on Tap, SMEs are able to access solutions perfectly crafted for their businesses. As we look to expand into Europe, alternative solutions like ours could be just what is needed to help SMEs overcome their financial fears and provide them with a more stable future.

We’ve made the Tech Track 100… again!

Guess what?

Capital on Tap was featured in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 for the second year in a row. Of the fastest growing companies within the UK, your very own Cap on Tap is number 44, 4 places up from last year!!

Funding small businesses is something that all of us at Capital on Tap are really passionate about. Every day, the team works hard to make sure our customers get the best out of us. It can be hard for a business to grow and develop when the demand for it is so high. But news like this is very exciting because it means we’re doing something right. Don’t worry, we all had a slice of cake for you to celebrate!

There are so many exciting things that we’re working on that we can’t wait to share with you. Keep yours eyes and ears open over the coming months, better things are coming!

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Capital on Tap Journals: Edinburgh

It was easy to understand why Capital on Tap chose the beautiful capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, for our inaugural company retreat. A mixture of different cultures, classic monuments, iconic picturesque views, we were definitely instore for a fun weekend.

Greeted by glorious weather and charming historic buildings, we arrived at the heart of the city late Friday evening. As our hotel was conveniently located in the city centre it presented itself with opportunities overflowing at every corner to discover more about the city’s past.

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First stop on our agenda consisted of evening food and drinks at the The Refinery which was perfectly situated at the iconic St Andrew Square.
Filled with traditional Scottish details overlooking the square, The Refinery appeared to be the perfect setting for the team to embrace the bustling environment. As the evening continued to the late hours, we took the opportunity to not only feast over the delicious burgers, but also enjoy the signature cocktails. While some entered a competitive game of Jenga, some continued to debate whether the World Cup was ‘coming home’, nonetheless this kickstarted what appeared to be an awesome weekend ahead.

Saturday

After being well rested after a long day of travelling and a night of laughter, we all gladly accepted a glorious buffet breakfast. Engaging in discussions about the day ahead and perhaps more importantly, whether England had any chances of bringing the world cup back home; Saturday was set out to be a fun day.

As the day began, we kicked off the morning with a company wide exercise asking team members from mixed departments to create a variety of vision boards. This consisted of teams brainstorming ideas and reflecting on new opportunities that the company could possibly venture into. While these brainstorming sessions forced each department to think outside the box, it also enabled an open channel of discussion, where we were able to generate ideas of how we can better serve our customers. This exercise also set the stage for a honest discussion, where employees were challenged to be creative and feedback ideas of how best we can evolve our current product features.

As we entered the early afternoon, we all split off into small groups, and utilised the time to explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh. While some daring team members set out on an adventure to climb the 251 metre high extinct volcano, famously known as the Arthur Seat, to capture the amazing panoramic view of Edinburgh city; others decided to use the free time to relish in the traditional scottish culture by taking a whisky tasting class.

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As we continued to explore the key landmarks, such as the Edinburgh Castle and St Andrew square in hopes of capturing the best selfie. It was that part of the afternoon where we all headed to the pub, for one thing and one thing only…FOOTBALL!. Packed with passionate England fans, we all nervously watched England vs Sweden at the edges of our seats. As the roof raised with our chants ‘It’s coming home’ it was beautiful to see that the victorious win brought such a real sense of comradery between us all.

Continuing the festivities after a well deserved win from England, we celebrated with an evening three course meal at Rabble Taphouse. As we enjoyed the delicious variety of food and the unique cocktails, still amazed by the surreal reality that England was entering the world cup finals for the first time since 1996, the celebrations continued into the ‘wee’ hours at the locals bars.

Sunday

After a day full of exploring, laughter and fun, it was time to head back home, where we nostalgically recapped highlights of the weekend on the long train journey back to London. Overall, it is safe to say that the company get away gave us all an excellent opportunity to retreat from our regular routines and revisit the companies vision for the future.

Getting to know our customers: BrewByNumbers

Tom Hutchings (co-founder of Brew By Numbers) recently welcomed the Capital on Tap team to their brewery for a tour (and a few drinks!). Here’s what happened…

Brew By Numbers’ story:

The business was founded in February 2012 after Tom Hutchings and Dave Seymour met whilst on a climbing tour of S.E Asia. Since its establishment the business has grown rapidly from starting in a basement Tom rented off a friend’s near Borough Market and has since moved to its current home in Bermondsey’s Rail Bridge Arches. What started as one experimental brew has now evolved into 310 varieties and counting!

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What makes Brew By Numbers stand out?

Using a numbering system is what differentiates the business from their competitors; each beer is identified by a unique four digit number. The first two digits denote the style of the beer and the last two denote the recipe. In addition to this, Dave and Tom’s passion is the force behind BBNo’s mission; to only release beers that are of high standard, balanced and drinkable.

Our visit:

Tom explained to us how he and Dave have grown their dream and gave us an overview of the plant from the brewing process to packaging and storage. He also explained how the facility we offer has been useful in aiding this growth. Many small businesses find themselves short of cash flow in the window between paying suppliers and being paid by clients. Capital on Tap’s revolving credit facility aims to seamlessly fill this gap. We ended the afternoon tasting three of the different brews paired with locally sourced cheese, meats and bread. Cheers Tom!

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Find out more about Brew By Numbers by visiting their website: http://www.brewbynumbers.com/

Fix your business’ credit control today

Help small businesses thrive. That’s our mantra here at Capital on Tap, and it’s driven our offering since day one. We were recently chatting to our friends at Chaser, the cloud credit control software, about 6 options you have when your business needs an urgent cash flow boost. They ended up giving us some fantastic insight into the mistakes many small businesses make with their credit control function, inhibiting their cash flow. As cash flow is the lifeblood of a business, we asked them how small businesses can most effectively combat these mistakes and establish a world-class credit control function.

Here are the 3 things your business needs to do today to fix its credit control function and get invoices paid on time.

1. Knowledge is power. Arm yourself.

If your business sells on payment terms, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming each of your customers operates the same way. Avoid setting yourself up for excuses and late payments by asking these 4 questions every time you supply a new customer:

  • What information do you need to make payment? (Although your invoice should already include the following: payment details, accepted payment methods, payment terms, invoice date, your VAT or sales tax number, and the correct description and cost of the goods/services)
  • Does this purchase require you to approve a purchase order? (And if so, when will it be approved? Plus don’t forget to include the PO number on the invoice)
  • Who is responsible for making payment on this invoice? (And how do I contact them?)
  • When do you make your payment runs?

Armed with this information, you won’t be blindsided by your customer with excuses about not following procedure. They’ll be forced to justify the unjustifiable – why they haven’t paid you on time when you’ve done everything correctly.

2. Polite persistence pays. Chase consistently.

“Polite persistence pays” is a motto of Chaser’s, and it’s an incredibly effective philosophy to follow when conducting credit control. Chaser have seen that almost 80% of invoices can be collected on time through email chasing alone. Here’s what you need to be doing to maximise your effectiveness of email chasing.

Every email chaser you send needs the following information to be effective:

  • Your business name
  • Invoice reference number
  • Amount owed on the invoice
  • Payment due date
  • Number of overdue days (if invoice is overdue)
  • And always attach a copy invoice

In providing this info, you eliminate any chance of the customer using the excuse that you haven’t provided enough info for them to make payment.

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It’s important, however, that your email chasers always remain polite and are sent often enough to keep you front of mind in your customer, but without harassing them. To achieve this, a good rule of thumb is never chase more than once a week or less than once a fortnight. Armed with the knowledge you acquired earlier, send your chasers to the person responsible for making payment on the invoice, and consider timing these chasers with when the customer makes their payment runs for maximum chance of getting paid quickly.

While email is a very effective medium for chasing up unpaid invoices, don’t forget the phone. Especially if your customer is slow to respond or sends vague and unclear replies. A rule of thumb from the Chaser team is to make a call after every third email chaser.

And finally, once payment is received on the invoice, whether it was on time or not, always thank your customer for paying. You’ll positively enhance the relationship with your customer and help encourage timely payment in future. Just a quick one-sentence email is enough, but make sure you do it within the 24 hours after receiving payment for maximum effect.

3. Maintain your invoice communications history neatly.

While the above advice can work wonders on the efficacy of your credit control function, it can be undermined by the lack of a single source of truth. Without consolidated and well-maintained invoice communications histories, a world-class credit control function crumbles. Scrambling through sent emails, multiple inboxes, or notes scrawled on the back of an envelope are all unnecessary risks and time-wasters from the credit control of the past. If your business still manages its credit control function this way, it could easily be racking up hours wasted every week. Not to mention operating with the unnecessary risk of missing key info when it isn’t consolidated into one location.

Whenever you’re conducting credit control with an incomplete picture of the situation, you’re inviting your customers to delay payment. You also risk damaging your business’ reputation by providing conflicting info, having to backtrack on something you mistakenly said earlier, or simply creating the image of a “pushover” company.

Keep a centralised log of all chasers sent, replies received, phone calls taken, and notes made. Make sure it is easily navigated and searchable by customer, invoice, and date. This will not only save your business a world of time, it will empower you to deliver world-class credit control and get your invoices paid on time.

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Chaser is cloud credit control software to get your invoices paid on time, in less time. Their average customer saves 7.3 hours a week on credit control, and boosts their cash flow by £4,400 per £100,000 of turnover. Check out how their product can help your business today.

Capital on Tap wins Leading Payments Start-Up Award

October 2017 marked an important step in the history of Capital on Tap as the company went home with the Leading Payments Start-Up award at this year’s Emerging Payments Awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony “recognises and celebrates the best the payments industry has to offer”. Now in its 10th year, the show saw companies from around the globe accept no less than 20 awards at a black-tie reception at The Hilton, Park Lane in London.

Capital on Tap was named Leading Payment Start-Up during the ceremony, CEO David Luck accepting the trophy on behalf of all employees of the Notting Hill-based fintech company. Mr Luck says, “Everyone of us at Capital on Tap has had their part to play in this victory, our hard work and dedication to revolutionise the world of business lending will only be strengthened after tonight’s win”.

The award comes only a few weeks after Capital on Tap entered the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 at number 48 for 2017.

3 (HUGE) reasons to join a start-up

There are pros and cons to any job, be it salary, company benefits or working hours. Start-ups seem to ask their employees to make a few sacrifices (they can’t necessarily offer the same wages or benefits as their bigger, older competitors), but they make up for it in many ways. Here are three (huge) reasons to join a start-up.

They will give you a chance.

We have all uttered the words “how can I get experience if no company will give me a chance?” Most start-ups will give you that chance for the simple reason that you are  exactly where they are – trying to build yourself up from scratch. Where bigger companies might reject your application based on required experience or skills, start-ups can see beyond this. What transferable skills do you have? You worked in retail to pay for your studies, that means you probably can multitask, have excellent people skills and a lot of patience. You were a writer for the school paper? Your language skills and creativity could be great for marketing.

You will learn a lot in very little time.

One of the best things about a start-up is how easy it can be to try out new things. Within my first week at Capital on Tap I had spent time in multiple departments, and a couple of years later I had learnt learnt to pitch a sale, study risk exposure, read financial accounts, create process flows and even some coding! I am not an expert in all of these fields, but I know a lot more than I thought I ever would. All these skills add up to wider experience than doing the same job in a bigger corporation. Plus, there is no greater way to end a day than with the feeling of having learnt something new, right?

The atmosphere.

One thing that start-ups understand well is how important it is to love where you work. Forget the Monday to Friday obligatory suit and tie and say hello to being who you are. A company is only as good as the people it employs, and start-ups have learnt to let their staff celebrate their individuality. Most dress codes stop at smart casual with an emphasis on the casual for most of the time, and offices are usually packed with benefits rarely found elsewhere: sports equipment, celebratory drinks, pets, sofas, video games and anything you may wish to have at hand after a stressful morning.

There are many businesses out there, but not all of them offer the same opportunities. It’s all about finding what will keep you going back to work every day.

The best way to find out if it is the right fit for you is to see it in action – why not have a look at our current open positions?

Join us!