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Member Profile - Conrad Ford - Funding Options

Conrad Ford is the Founding Director Funding Options. Funding Options is an online service that matches businesses to the right lender. 

Because SME lending has become such a large challenge for the UK economy, we have grown quickly and earlier this year Lord Young and Sir Terry Leary selected us for the ‘Accelerate 250’ list of the most promising new firms in the UK. 

What is the best thing about running your own business?

Without doubt, having the freedom to explore exciting new partnerships and products, without the inertia and bureaucracy of a larger employer. For example, we work with the Forum of Private Business and other partners like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. More recently, we launched a new online service, Check Business, where any business can easily access the credit scores of their prospects and suppliers- that’s the kind of project I get really excited about.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

It’s easy to believe what you want to believe, but the data doesn’t lie even if it’s not a message you don’t want to hear: listen to the numbers, not your gut.

How do you make contacts that can be useful for business?

I’m on Twitter, and it has proved a great way of making connections with larger companies and with influential individuals. For instance, conversations on Twitter have led to us featuring in the Sunday Times and Guardian, and even a meeting with Mark Carney, the new Governor of the Bank of England.

Tell us one tip that could prove valuable in life and business?

Someone told me before I started a business that I shouldn’t wait too long before launching and getting real customer feedback- and it’s true. We spent too long and too much money before getting Funding Options in front of real customers- the truth is that however great you think your idea is, the chances are you’ve got something wrong, so you’re better off learning that and adapting fast.

How has technology changed your business?

Our company is, at the core, a technology business- for example our unique business finance finder app can integrate with modern accounting packages, and other important data sources.

We’re also fully ‘cloud’-based internally, too- it’s amazing how modern tools like Gmail for business and online customer relationship management gives functionality better than that enjoyed by big businesses, and for a tiny fraction of the price.

What made you join the Forum and what is the best thing about being a member?

The Forum is a really influential and knowledgeable voice for the SME population, which is vitally important for the UK’s economic future, and on top of that the Forum gives you a great suite of services to support your business too!  

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