Enthusiasm and innovation typically spring to mind when seeking to define start-ups. The combination of entrepreneurial spirit and a passion to see their project off the ground encapsulate start ups’ potential to evolve in tomorrow’s established SMEs and corporate entities.
Start-ups are also associated with a high rate of failures. This is typically when an entity starts off without respect to basic business fundamentals, since no matter how creative the architecture, unless it stands on sound foundations, it risks collapsing. There are many case studies on why a business fails or succeeds, and the outcome, good or bad, is never attributable to one cause but is due to a trajectory of actions and consequences.
This is what led to the collaboration between Chamber of Commerce and BOV in coming up with the Start Up Toolkit. The two entities used their years of experience on the field to collaborate on designing an online portal which serves as a reference point for start-ups. This toolkit is composed on a mosaic of factors and variables one should look at when setting up a business.
Whilst the toolkit covers a number of areas and disciplines needed to run a sound business, the keyword underpinning the tool kit is good ‘management’ and governance. Typically weak or lack of sound management is the key determinant in the trajectory path to failure. Management needs to be looked upon in the wider sense since the term is multi-faceted incorporating strategic, financial, operational and other aspects needed for a holistic running of the business whilst ensuring the right risk return balance and business sustainability. Experience has shown that many times management actions are prolonged to address failures due to emotional attachment. The entrepreneur needs to be passionate about the objective yet brutally honest, taking a clinical approach in respect of the fundamentals underpinning the initial business idea. This is critical to ensure that an entrepreneur’s vision is transformed into a robust reality and that the business remains sustainable in the longer term.
Bankers, by definition, do give utmost importance to sound financial management. The bank is typically a stakeholder, sharing the risk with the entrepreneur, thus having a vested interest to ensure that the company has the right liquidity, effective working capital management and sustainable long term funding to ensure its viability in the long term.
Bank of Valletta is truly committed to support tomorrow’s SMEs. Thus it invested in a network of regional Centres that are fully dedicated to support small and medium sized businesses through the provision of value added financial services.
The Business Centres are aligned to its customer-centric vision that sees the Bank focussing strategically on developing long-term working relationships with its customers. Having an intimate knowledge of its clients has always distinguished Bank of Valletta. That is why branches are generally found in the square, only a few metres away from the village church, where locals congregate regularly. And that is why the Bank developed a network of five regional Business Centres, trying to get as close as possible to its customers.
The BOV Business Centres act as hubs which provide SMEs with the necessary day to day support necessary for them to achieve their growth potential. BOV does not promote short term quick fixes. Instead it offers tailor-made solutions to ensure a best fit to each and every business customer whilst maintaining a prudent approach in managing the risk factor for both the Bank and the customer. As bankers, we are continuously undertaking a ‘balancing act’ – balancing our customers’ enthusiasm and dreams with their long-term interest and viability. Bank of Valletta will continue encouraging businesses, to start evolve and grow and the Start Up tool kit is one of such initiatives aimed in supporting businesses for today and tomorrow on a sounder footing.