She is now set to move into increasingly popular area of crowd funding with the launch of her new business venture Money&Co in the first few months of next year.
We caught up with Nicola recently to find out more and hear her view on the current funding landscape and business challenges for 2014.
What was the impetus behind the idea to set up Money&Co?
I wanted to set up Money&Co to provide a smarter way for businesses to get the finance they need. Crowdfunding can do what banks are currently failing to: support SMEs in the UK. We will do this by connecting businesses in need of finance with individuals who want to achieve a higher rate of interest on their cash.
There is a common belief among many SMEs that the banks still aren’t lending. Do you think that’s the case?
Bank of England monthly statistics show that lending to SMEs in 2013 has been down around three per cent each month so far compared to 2012. Clearly, banks are not doing enough for credit-worthy businesses. There are some signs of improvement, but businesses across the country are still struggling to access funding. There is a real need for an alternative route to finance, as the current banking model is not delivering.
What advice would you give to someone looking to fund a new business idea?
Money&Co is being launched to support existing SMEs. There are other crowdfunding sites that help start-ups to find capital.
What are the biggest challenges facing the business community in 2014?
The UK economy may be beginning to grow again, but it is vital that companies have access to borrowing in order to maintain this momentum. SMEs account for 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK and 48.1 per cent of private sector turnover according to the FSB yet many businesses still struggle to access funding. The ability to borrow money will help to inject confidence into the economy and will lead to the creation of new jobs as businesses expand. Making loans available to SMEs should be at the top of the agenda for the business community in 2014.