Running a business is never easy but for those choosing to diversify, the opportunity for excitement and trepidation looms even larger, especially if that diversification is a necessary part of business survival; and getting the finance to fund new ventures is, for many, a point of real stress, especially when a degree of certainty and speed is required (as is often the case in “make or break” scenarios).
In the current business environment, SME and local businesses face just as many challenges as larger corporations and, in many respects, it can be tougher for them to thrive as they are exposed to greater risks posed by political, economic and environmental volatility.
Land owners, food producers and farmers are one “group” that frequently feels this pain being hugely impacted by everything ranging from taxation, regulatory and environmental policy change to inclement weather, uncertain crop yields, livestock diseases and blights, all of which can have devastating effects on their businesses.
Over the past decade, we have seen a trend for more and more rural and farming businesses seeking to expand and diversify into new industries to both compensate for losses and to create new and alternative revenue streams.
Diversification is something to be celebrated and supported. The entrepreneurial spirit shown by British farmers and land owners in recent years has proven that new opportunities and ideas can be turned into profitable and sustainable businesses. Indeed, this may even hold the secret to our post-Brexit success.
Take William Chase, a Hereford potato farmer who diversified into food and drink by creating the high-end Tyrells crisp brand and later founding the award-winning Chase spirits company, now world-famous for its outstanding vodkas and gin, all produced under its strict “field to bottle” policy.
But sadly, as the appetite for diversification has grown, the appetite of traditional finance providers to support such ventures has diminished. Smaller rural, local and entrepreneurial businesses are finding themselves increasingly unattractive to those institutions, as the willingness to lend to certain sectors and new ventures has fallen away.
Alternative finance providers like FOLK2FOLK exist to help and enable those business owners by supporting their new business ventures. We like to say “yes” to agricultural business owners looking to diversify. Over the past four years we have helped fund a variety of diversification projects from alternative accommodations businesses in camping and glamping to investing in leisure and tourism facilities such as golf courses and holiday lets, as well as food and drink production, energy projects, wedding venues, event companies and alternative livestock and equestrian centres.
At FOLK2FOLK we provide a platform which empowers local people to invest directly into local businesses through secured lending. Our community of local Lenders is helping transform the rural environment across the UK by backing great British businesses in their next phase of growth. Together we are building a new movement for local business lending that is supporting land and farming entrepreneurs, ensuring the free flow of capital needed to help strengthen and improve local economies, creating jobs and opportunity, easing issues of rural deprivation by making them better, happier and more prosperous places to live and work.
We love the excitement of seeing what new ventures and ideas from potential borrowers land on our desks each morning and if you’re a land owner or agricultural business looking for finance to help you diversify, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to our Business Development Team to talk about how FOLK2FOLK could help your project progress.