Stockport-based SpeechWise Speech and Language Therapy provides bespoke Speech and Language Therapy to children and young people with Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). Founded by Speech and Language Therapist Ele Leatherbarrow, her team works with schools and individuals across the North-West. Speechwise provides assessments, intervention and training to improve outcomes for children with SLCN.
To respond to the cash flow needs of the expanding business, Ele asked her existing bank for an increase to the company’s overdraft arrangement. However, despite very encouraging progress and an 86% increase in turnover in the business’s second year of trading and a projected further 83% increase for her third year her existing Bank declined to assist.
Following a recommendation by Stockport Business & Innovation Centre at Broadstone Mill, where the business is based, Ele approached GC Business Growth Hub to discover what support may be available, particularly with regard to accessing alternative sources of finance.
She initially began working with Geoff Clowes of the Access to Finance team, who agreed that the business was ideally positioned for growth and support. Geoff immediately elicited the help of Sarah Ludford of the Growth Services team to support development of her existing business plan. With the client’s help Sarah was able to produce a robust and compelling document which demonstrated growth plans when meeting with potential new funders.
Working with Access to Finance’s Geoff Clowes, Ele was then introduced and accompanied to meetings with the Royal Bank of Scotland, who were immediately impressed with the business model and the progress achieved to date as articulated within the comprehensive business plan. As a result, RBS agreed increased working capital funding to support the growth ambitions of the business.
Ele was also encouraged by her Access to Finance and Growth advisers to scale up her growth plans, which also resulted in the achievement of medium term growth funding from GC Business Finance. Funding was achieved from both RBS and GC Business Finance which has secured the short and medium-term growth plans of the business.
Ele explains: “The challenge was a really positive one, in that our business was growing - thanks mainly to recommendations from our existing clients. Whilst this meant that we were able to provide much-needed support to more and more children, it created a cash flow deficit. It was frustrating that my original bank would not take this growth into account in their decision-making and declined my request for what was realistic growth funding support. I believed in what I was doing and was convinced that given the opportunity I could finance SpeechWise with the right help. I just needed some advice and support to enable me to articulate my plans and to source funders who would see the potential of my business and hopefully the success I was achieving.
“What stood out for me most about working with the Hub was that from the very start I knew they understood the business and that both the Access to Finance and Growth team advisers really believed in me and wanted me to succeed. So rather than just making a few introductions and leaving me to it, they helped me prepare a compelling case justifying why SpeechWise needed and deserved funding and as such why it should be supported. The practical help made a huge difference as it can be difficult to balance the day-to-day running of the business with the work needed to secure the funding. Being accompanied in those lending meetings was also very helpful and I think crucial to securing the funding I needed.
“The funding has allowed us to respond to the growing needs of our current and potential clients. We have been able to take on three additional Speech and Language Therapists, increase our engagement with more children needing our support, whilst continuing to grow the schools side. We are also expanding the range of training we offer. In addition, with the help of Chris Murphy, Digital Growth Advisor, we linked up with Digital Media Stream to create a new website that makes accessing Speech and Language Therapy Services quick and easy for our clients.
“GC Business Growth Hub team have given us the support and confidence to forge ahead with our plans for SpeechWise, allowing us to make a difference to more children and young people with SLCN.”
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