Potentially looking for investors to help your LSP or translation business take a leap to the next level?
Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency responsible for driving productivity and growth in the economy, has just released a report that makes for insightful reading as to what potential investors are looking for.
‘Scaling up: the investor perspective’ is the result of research commissioned by Innovate UK and carried out by market research company, Ebiquity.
Ebiquity asked leading British business leaders what they believed to be the characteristics of fast-growth investable UK businesses and the challenges such businesses faced in securing investment for scaling up.
The results highlight disparities between the views of investors and business owners as to what they each believed to be important in such opportunities.
For example, the report reveals that investors often see growth very differently from
businesses owners who are wanting to scale up. Investors are more likely to think in terms of multiples whereas the businesses themselves often think incrementally.
Soft Skills Matter
As well as gaps between investors and businesses, the report also identifies key attributes needed for them to work together.
Interestingly one area that businesses seemed to consistently undervalue was the importance investors place on ‘soft skills’, such as communication, problem solving and team work.
Drive and passion were deemed the important attributes for business leaders, alongside resilience and adaptability which are considered essential in dealing with the topsy-turvy nature of business.
The importance placed on people skills is also reflected in the reasons for investments falling through; the top shortfalls for investors being:
5. cultural fit
In all cases businesses or business owners underestimate their significance in attracting and securing investment.
The report explains the emphasis on such soft skills, as opposed to technical know-how, as being due to investors’ desire to work with people they can get on with, trust and that can handle the complexities of working in an evolving marketplace.
International Investors Keen on British Scale Ups
For British LSPs and translation agencies looking for investors, there is good news. According to the report, the UK is a favoured hunting ground for foreign investors looking for scale up opportunities.
The advanced innovation ecosystem and a perceived superior management quality are cited as the two main reasons why international investors are keen on British companies. A sound management team with leadership skills was considered the most important factor in guaranteeing scale up success.
With investors currently looking for proprietary technology in artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), data analytics and machine learning, the translation & localization industry sits in very close proximity to this attractive and active part of the UK economy.
In fact, 73% of investors cited the ability to trade, do business and expand globally as one of the main reasons for investing in a scale up. This makes translation and localization companies doubly-investable as, not only do they offer future growth in themselves, but they are also vital in creating growth for others through their very much in-demand services.
So, for those looking at future growth and expansion plans, investors are out there, and the industry is ideally positioned.
However, as the report clearly illustrates, it’s important not to get hung up on business plans, projects and profits when it comes to enticing an investor, for them it’s very much your people that will give you power.
Neil Payne started his career as an English teacher in the Middle East before becoming a freelance Turkish translator. Realising he preferred translation management to translation itself, he set up a successful translation agency which he had for 12 years. He now runs Accensus, a niche training company for the translation & localisation industry, and occasionally finds time to watch Crystal Palace…mainly lose.
Image from Flickr.