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As we exit the second national lockdown of the year and enter strengthened Tier 2 restrictions, businesses are continuing to feel the strain of the pandemic. It therefore remains vital to know your options around the financial support that could help your business to recover and prosper post pandemic, and how best to approach providers of finance.

MSIF Investment Manager, Sue Chambers, discusses the importance of investment readiness and how best to prepare for funding success during a time of elevated uncertainty.

Mark Borzomato reflects on the ways in which the MSIF equity portfolio companies have responded to the pandemic, and the qualities they will need to thrive in the uncertain times ahead.

The recent spate of local lockdowns has made it clear that businesses cannot expect a straightforward return to pre-pandemic normality in the near future. In March, we perhaps expected a short lived period of disruption followed by a swift return to ‘business as usual’, however we now know that the impact of coronavirus will be felt for some time to come, and its effects on the economy continue to be difficult to predict.

I remember reading, about three years ago, a couple of blog posts by my friend and (stalwart proponent of Liverpudlian tech) Leon Rossiter.

One was titled something akin to “The Green Shoots of a Tech Revolution in Liverpool” and the other made a nod towards the possibility that one day, there would be a homegrown Unicorn here. With these, he published a list of 50 predominantly young companies who were mostly at the early stages of their journey towards achieving product market fit.

The Immersive Learning Studio talks about the benefits of VR in Hazard Awareness Training

Increase Engagement
Use of immersive technology to engage employees and support learning. User needs to spot a minimum number of hazards, risks and dangers.

Improve Thinking
Increasing and expanding Hazard Awareness Thinking. This has a proven effect in changing the mindset and behaviours of users.

Doing more with less has become a corporate mantra. Its rippling effects are felt at all levels of an organisation; however, most companies simply aren’t taking full advantage of what marketing digitisation has to offer.

The Lead Process is a fantastically tuned marketing ecosystem; a hive of activity, with each section feeding into another, all with one marketing objective in mind; to build your contact list, and then nurture those contacts up to the point that they are deemed “Sales Ready”.

Employ like-minded people
Having the right people in your team is imperative, particularly when you are a new business looking to break into the digital industry. Experience and skills are important when searching for potential employees, but at OPEN we focus heavily on having the right attitude and soft skills with the knowledge that the rest can be taught.

As we continue our #DigitalDecember journey, we asked our newly appointed tech-lead, David Walters to delve into the realms of Artificial Intelligence – what it involves, and what it truly means…

It is hard these days to read a business article without a reference to Artificial Intelligence.

It seems that the adoption of AI is everywhere and that unless a business has invested in Ph.D. level mathematicians, you are going to be left behind.

Shining the Spotlight on Emma Rogers

This week, we want to introduce you to the glue that holds MSIF together, Emma Rogers…!

Keep reading to find out more about her 20 years with the company, her favourite superhero and who makes the best brew in the office…

Shining the Spotlight on MSIF Investment Manager, Andy Jones

As we continue our weekly spotlight series, we sit down with MSIF Investment Manager, Andy Jones, to talk business, Tranmere Rovers and flying.

Please introduce yourself and what do you do for MSIF?
Hello, I’m Andy Jones, one of the team of Investment Managers. I joined MSIF in 2014 and my role is to work with businesses looking to grow and expand with funding needs up to £100,000.

The New VAT Reverse Charge for the Construction Industry

August 2019 update from Mitchell Charlesworth: To tackle VAT fraud in the construction industry a domestic reverse charge will be introduced with effect from 1 October 2019.

Alison Birch, VAT partner at Mitchell Charlesworth, explains what this means for businesses in the construction industry.

Identifying the best place to start when pursuing your own business can be one of the biggest challenges you can face.

Luckily, we have some great individuals at MSIF and the Finance Hub whom have a wealth of knowledge to share. We asked our team what are the most important fundamentals to get right before embarking on your journey, and ranking top of the list was Business Plans.

Shining the Spotlight on MSIF Chairman, John O’Brien

Over the upcoming months, we will be introducing you to our team here at MSIF through our weekly ‘spotlight’ series.

Join us as you get to know more about our likes and dislikes, favourite football teams and most importantly, how we are aiming to help as many businesses as we can across the region!

First up… our Chairman, John O’Brien.

Research and Development Tax Credits can be a valuable asset for a business looking to grow and capitalise on research projects.

Darren Griffin is an associate director at RSM in Liverpool. Darren specialises in R&D tax credits and patent box, helping companies realise significant tax savings – we asked him to breakdown some common questions around R&D.

With the deadline to ‘Making Tax Digital’ quickly approaching, we want to help ensure our businesses are supported and ready for the change.

We asked Peter Coleby of DSG Chartered Accountants to answer some of the most pressing questions around digital tax and how businesses can best prepare themselves.

MSIF Investment Director, Simon Thelwall-Jones, discusses one of the biggest issues facing local SMEs.

We recently commissioned some research which showed that there are well over 20,000 SMEs in the North West and North Wales in which their Directors are aged 55 or over.

Paul Humphray is an Investment Director at MSIF. He is an experienced business lender previously working for a national bank within the North West Region and having now worked at MSIF for 15 years.

Paul works on MSIF's larger Loan Funds (lending from £100k to £1m) to SMEs across the North West. Let’s find out a little more about him…

Liverpool-based Cemos is a cloud-based digital platform developer that use their platform to create mobile applications that are tailored for health, fitness and wellbeing.

Chris Mitchell is the Managing Director of Cemos. Cemos received £150,000 of equity funding from MSIF in 2017, through the NPIF Maven Equity Fund.

Smileworks is Liverpool’s most popular dental practice, and also a previous MSIF client!

Smileworks received £7,500 from MSIF in 2014. Smileworks started as an idea conjured up by two dentists, Ed Challinor and MJ Rowland-Warmann whilst on a Virgin Atlantic flight to Miami, at 34,000ft in the air.

Your complete Guide to Facebook Advertising for Local Businesses in 2017: Local Facebook advertising for small business will typically differ from the ‘best practice’ taught by the thought leaders of digital marketing in 2017; read this blog from Ed Challinor to learn more.

For our guest blog, we invited Ed Challinor, the co-founder of Smileworks, Liverpool’s most popular dental practice, to write about Facebook advertising for local businesses.

Here at MSIF, we’ve had an exciting and busy month, with the launch of our brand new MSIF Finance Hub.

The MSIF Finance Hub is a new separate arm of our business. It is a free, single access, help point for SMEs trying to access external funding, created with the aim to make the process of accessing funding less confusing.

Sue Chambers has been an Investment Manager at MSIF since 2013.

What sort of businesses are you working with at the moment?

An innovative clothing product, an interior design company and a sports training business.

There are a lot of misconceptions about gaining business funding, so we are debunking the most common of them.

Banks are the only option for a business that requires funding:

Banks are usually peoples first thought when they think about accessing external funding, however, banks are not a business’s only option.

Q & A: Introducing George Wright

George Wright is an Investment Manager who joined MSIF 5 months ago.

What sort of businesses are you working with at the moment?
As my role within MSIF is fairly flexible at the moment, I am working with businesses across a very broad spectrum: Pre Revenue; Start Up’s; Early Stage and businesses with mutli-million pound turnover.

Crowdfunding is a way of raising finance by asking a number of individuals to invest money in your business.

There are a number of online platforms that enable a business or individual to raise finance this way.

Wake up to Export

For those of you on the periphery of export and particularly for those yet to try, the best time to export is …. NOW!

I’m going to give you some common responses I get when I suggest exporting to companies; followed by reasons you shouldn’t be saying the same…

Jacob O’Brien is a solicitor specialising in commercial and intellectual property issues with leading North West law firm Brabners.

Here he offers advice on protecting your business.

Is my business right for private equity?

Venture capital funding, or Private Equity (PE) as it is often known, is where an external investor buys a stake in a business from the existing owners.

There are various forms of venture capital or PE funding for different phases of a company's development including:

Q & A: Introducing Andy Jones

Andy Jones is an investment manager who oversees loans to start ups and established businesses.

What sort of businesses are you working with at the moment?
Microbrewery, events and catering, motor breakdown provider, Premier League licensed wall art producer, skip hire/waste management.

Q & A: Introducing Simon Thelwall-Jones

Simon is an MSIF investment director who oversees our larger loans and equity investments.

What sort of businesses are you working with at the moment?
I am working with businesses operating in a range of sectors including, construction, health & wellbeing, recycling and tourism.

It's 2017, It's Time To Start Networking

Lisa Greenhalgh, COO. “If your business comes from relationships, make relationships your business.”

Networking isn’t just about fun events, it’s a vital part to growing your business and building relationships and contacts that will help your organization to flourish.

Welcome To The MSIF Blog!

Happy new year and welcome to our new blog! We’re kicking 2017 off by providing all of our clients and visitors with a space that we will fill with top tips, trends and business insights from our insightful investment team here at MSIF.

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