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TGtS Meets...John Davies
Ahead of this year's South West Expo, we caught up with the CEO of Just Cash Flow PLC, and this year's main sponsor, John Davies.
Tell us a little bit more about your business?
Just Cash Flow PLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Just Loans Group PLC, is a specialist lender offering flexible cash solutions to growing UK businesses. Launched in the UK in early 2014 we provide businesses with flexible finance facilities that work as an alternative to a bank overdraft or business loan, from £10k to £500k.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Many SMEs find it difficult, if not impossible to access financing from the major banks and are increasingly having to look elsewhere for the funding they need to build their businesses. The Just Loans Group entered the alternative finance sector to help bridge the funding gap that has restricted the progress of UK businesses. Just Cash Flow PLC is a 100% owned subsidiary and was commended in the Business Product Innovation of the Year category at the Business Moneyfacts 2015 Awards.
How will you ensure that your company continues to grow and develop?
There is a definite need in the market for professional alternative lenders who can support successfully developing and growing businesses. We believe we are well placed to do this through our experienced Board, our talented employees and our processes and systems, as well as our ability to be agile and flexible. We are also happy to work with other lenders to help support businesses with their financial needs.
You’re the main sponsor of this year’s Expo, what are you most looking forward to?
Well it is being held at the Swindon Steam Museum – need I say more! But on a more serious note, it is always great to meet business owners and to talk with people about their challenges and successes and, of course, to take on board any feedback that can help us be even more successful within our own business.
You’re also a key note speaker at this year’s show, what’s the best bit of advice you would give to other speakers?
Talk from the heart. If you are honest and sincere, I believe your passion will shine through. I certainly hope this is the case for me! I would also add, make sure you add value. Everyone leads busy lives and if someone is going to take the time and trouble to listen to you talk; make sure they go away with at least three ideas they can action immediately that will help them grow and develop their business.
Do you have a motto or favourite motivational quote?
Treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself. Showing respect towards other people and treating them fairly costs nothing and can pay rich dividends.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own business?
We get to see many excellent business finance applications but we also see others where it is clear the owners do not fully understand their own business or exactly what they need the money for. Today a key part of our underwriting involves understanding how well an applicant knows their business, financial position and future plans. If someone can't tell you the difference between a P&L forecast and a cash flow forecast it sets alarm bells ringing.
Over 30 years ago when I ran a number of growing businesses I would have benefited from a better knowledge of key business fundamentals, especially how managing your cash flow is all important.
What’s the biggest challenge facing small and medium sized businesses today?
In our own research conducted with SME owners, according to 63%, fewer UK businesses would fail if owners had more knowledge of the world of business prior to taking the plunge and setting up themselves.
Small business owners are now calling for more education for those in the process of setting up in business, as research today reveals many directors went into business blind and confess they made big mistakes along the way.
Small and medium sized businesses employed 15.2 million people at the start of 2014, and had a combined turnover of £1.6 trillion – highlighting the strong correlation between the success of SMEs and our local economies.
The areas of concern that SME owners wish they had known more about before setting up in business have been revealed to be finance (30%), planning (29%) and forecasting (23%). However cash flow management (36%) has been flagged as the top concern that business owners face. The lack of business knowledge has resulted in 14% of those surveyed admitting to making mistakes that have put their businesses at risk, and 10% have made errors that have cost their businesses dear.
There are a wealth of business related courses available to budding entrepreneurs and in today's Internet age you can easily and significantly improve your business knowledge. You just have to type into any search engine - Cash Flow, KPIs, Finance, Employment Responsibilities etc and there is a wealth of information to get you started.
What’s been your greatest achievement to date?
Bringing up a family of three girls has certainly been a challenge, an education and, I am pleased to say, my greatest achievement. It is a privilege to watch them all become fine, successful people in their own right.
When you’re not busy running your business, how do you like to spend your down time?
The little down time I have, I enjoy spending with my family and friends. I have grandchildren who certainly do a good job of keeping me young – or trying to at least. I also very much like to ski, and travel - when time allows.