AS HEAD of commercial banking for HSBC UK, Amanda Murphy has responsibility for the accounts of more than 1.1million customers.
A former Midland Bank graduate trainee, over 22 years she’s worked for HSBC in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia-Pacific, where she was head of commercial banking in Indonesia.
A champion of small businesses, Murphy last month launched a £10bn lending fund to support the growth plans of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country.
“SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy, and for many there is an opportunity and appetite to grow their business through exporting,” she said at the time.
Here, she offers Tribune readers her five top tips to growing their businesses.
Understand how you’ll finance your ambition
I’ve put this at the top, as it is so often the part that becomes a stumbling block on the path to success. The numbers may be the ‘dry’ part of your business plan but by using the tools and expertise available you can ensure that you’ve a strong foundation for sustainable growth. You have to think about how you access finance and get the right services to support your business.
Be risk aware, but not risk averse
There’s a Chinese proverb: “Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.” You have to be prepared to take risks to succeed, and you should be confident and optimistic when you do so. A good business plan will inform you as to how much risk you can realistically take, and it is important to consult with business experts who can help you understand the risks associated with new opportunities.
There is a world of opportunity out there
I’ve been lucky enough to work in the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Canada, the UAE and Indonesia. There’s no doubt that travel broadens the mind, introduces you to new cultures, and helps you to understand the nuances of different business environments. But an international outlook is no longer restricted to those with a jet-setting lifestyle. We have recently introduced an online portal, HSBC Connections, which connects businesses and has an interface with the government as part of their drive to increase exports.
You can register your company and say who you are looking to meet and it enables you to access a global network of companies overseas. Years ago if you wanted to expand into Singapore or Indonesia you had to have a presence there. Today the internet opens up many more doors and many of our customers become exporters because they have a good internet site. A 2016 report from the Federation of Small Businesses noted that one in five (21%) small businesses currently export, and with the right support there is potential to double this figure.
Be flexible and nimble, and you’ll reap the rewards
Any business owner knows that you’re going to have to be flexible, and not just with your time. The world hasn’t been 9 to 5 for some time now, and when, where and how we work has seen a seismic change with the introduction of new technologies and ways of connecting. If you employ staff, you need to provide them with the same flexibility too, and understand their needs. Investing time and resource into being flexible also means being prepared for whatever the world throws at you. At HSBC, we acknowledge that your business can be influenced by large-scale shifts in the international trading landscape, but equally by events closer to home such as staff leave. That’s why we help our customers make sense of the bigger issues, and provide services such as the Parental Leave Support Package, to help small business navigate these challenges.
Seek out your peers and learn from them
If you’re coming up against a challenge, chances are that someone has walked that path before you. Learning best practice from our peers is always important, but particularly for emerging businesses and start-ups. It helps you to understand your market and the support available to you. A strong entrepreneurial economy, as we have in the UK, benefits everyone within it – so take the chance to network with your peers and share your ambitions.