Support across the business life cycle

Every business goes through a number of stages in the course of its evolution. The rate at which a company grows depends on many factors. These vary from its organisational and management structure, to its industry and competition, to its products and profit margins. There is no formula, but there are certain milestones and challenges that almost every growing business is likely to face in one way or another.

Initial successes through organic growth will eventually plateau, and new thinking will be needed to progress to the next stage of growth. Key to staying driven as a business owner is understanding exactly where your business is in its cycle, having clear plans to implement, and working with the right advisers to help navigate.

Collyer Bristow supports business owners across the seven main stages of business growth, helping ambitious leaders prepare, plan and prosper.

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Phase one: seed

This is when a business venture is just a thought or idea. You want to ensure you make the best use of your limited resources to get the idea off the ground. This early in the business life cycle, with no proven market or customers, your business will rely on cash from owners, friends and family (or potentially suppliers, customers and government grants) to get up and running.

We can work with you to determine which corporate vehicle best suits your needs and then incorporate it swiftly.

John Ayton MBE: How do you know your business idea is worth pursuing?

John Ayton MBE has established and invested in multiple businesses across a number of industries. Here he explains what, in his experience, makes an idea for a business worthy of pursuing into reality. Watch now

You should be thinking about:
  • Business planning
  • The profitability of your business idea
  • A business ownership structure, finding professional advisors, and business planning
  • Not spreading money and time resources too thin
  • Market acceptance

Phase two: start-up

Your thought or idea is off the ground, and your business exists legally. Products or services are in production, you are starting to build relationships with suppliers and customers, but you need more capital to reach your market.

We can help with the protection of your key assets, and ensuring you have a well drafted corporate constitution which governs the relationship between the founding parties.

You should be thinking about:
  • Establishing your customer base and market presence
  • Learning what profitable needs your clients have
  • Managing cash reserves to ensure you don’t run out of money
  • Considering your funding requirements for growth
  • Locking in key employees
  • Managing the expectations of your initial shareholders

Create your key business documentation, policies and procedures now

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More than
of all UK businesses are small to medium sized, meaning they have 250 or fewer employees

We understand entrepreneurs and business owners. We know the struggles. We appreciate the sacrifices. We know what it takes to stay driven, and we know that the key is a strong partnership with a valuable business advisor.

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Phase three: Growth

Your business is fully up and running. Revenues and customers are increasing, and new opportunities and issues are presenting themselves. Profits are strong, but competition is surfacing. At this point you may need to enter into appropriate contracts with key third parties which will help your business grow.

From agency agreements to distribution agreements, from supply contracts to service contracts, our team can draft any bespoke contract your business needs. Having well drafted contracts will mean you can focus on growing your business as you are less likely to be distracted by disputes.

You should be thinking about:
  • Running your business more formally, with effective management and trusted advisers
  • Reviewing and entering into robust supplier contracts
  • Hiring new employees to deal with the influx of business
  • Your on-line sales strategy and how to protect your business with web terms and conditions
  • Getting the right premises at the right price for the best term for your business
  • Protecting your intellectual property from market competition
John Ayton MBE: Growing a business

Links of London co-founder and prolific private equity investor, John Ayton MBE, discusses when might be the right time to take a business to the next level and what a business owner should consider in advance. Watch now

Phase four: Established business

Your business is established and is a player in the market within which it operates. Sales growth is consistent and manageable. Business life has become more routine. The nature of the contracts needed is evolving and becoming more sophisticated. For instance, you may need Non-Disclosure Agreements to help with negotiations with third parties. You may also require more sophisticated arrangements regarding the services you provide or the supplies you need, such as the “licensing in” of third-party intellectual property.

of businesses said they were prepared to experience slower growth, rather than borrow to aid quicker growth
The law firm for those that value individuality, creativity and collaboration.

Our clients recognise that their business or personal legal needs may be unique and more complex, and they value a more engaged and personalised service from their lawyers.

That's where we come in.
You should be thinking about:
  • Staying driven
  • Implementing better business practices
  • Automation and outsourcing
  • The bigger picture - the economy, competitors and changing customer tastes

Phase five: Expansion

Your business has reached critical mass and you are looking to gain a larger market share, move into new markets additional distribution channels and/or expand existing operations. These decisions require the same degree of business planning and research as establishing an early-stage business, in particular consideration as to how the expansion would affect existing experience and capabilities

You should be thinking about:
  • Adding new products or services to existing markets
  • Expanding your existing business into new markets
  • Joint ventures and licensing opportunities
  • Acquiring other companies – competitors, or assets which will complement, or assist with the diversification, of your existing business
  • The funding and management experience to take the business to another level
John Ayton MBE: Finding & working with investors

John Ayton MBE has established and grown various businesses, as well as investing at the earliest stage in multiple emerging luxury brands. Here he shares his expertise on what ensures a successful investment relationship from 'both sides of the fence'.

Watch now
During Q3 2019 in the UK 368
equity deals were agreed,
was invested with the average
deal worth £7.68m

Our team can provide guidance on the relevant contracts which may include sponsorship, joint ventures and licensing of intellectual property rights. You may wish to purchase a business or take on investors, whether through debt or equity. Our team can guide you through these processes.

Phase six: Mature

Your business eventually reaches a natural plateau. Sales growth has started to slow down, and the product has already reached widespread acceptance in the market. Major capital spending is largely behind the business but with margins getting thinner, cash generation is higher than profit. You may need additional partners in order to kick-start growth again, or you may look to extend the business life cycle by reinventing the business and investing in new technologies or emerging markets. Alternatively, you may be thinking about succession and preparing your business for a successful exit.

The UK is home to
large businesses, which have more than 250 employees

You should be thinking about:
  • Reinvention and reinvestment
  • Succession
  • Exit strategy

Phase Seven: Exit

You have taken your business from the seed of an initial idea to a mature prospect and want to monetise all the hard work you have put in. However, selling a business requires your realistic valuation, and your work in advance to ensure your business operations, management and competitive barriers make the company worth more to a prospective buyer.

Our team can assist with the sale of the business together with any corporate restructuring necessary to achieve the best outcome for you.

Alternatively, you may need to protect yourself from creditors and save the business through an administration or turnaround. We are well positioned to provide you with strategic advice on this.

You should be thinking about:
  • A proper valuation of your company
  • Optimising your business ahead of sale
  • Making sure the deal is structured in a way which maximises the upside, and minimises the risk
  • Your next professional or personal step after exiting the business
John Ayton MBE: When is the right time to exit?

Prolific British businessman turned private equity investor, John Ayton MBE, shares his experience and anecdotes on exiting a successful business.

Watch now

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