How Propel by Deloitte can provide the rocket fuel SMEs need to grow

Nick Levine, Advisory Lead at Propel by Deloitte, explains more about Propel and how it’s helping start-ups and SMEs grow with its subscription-based accounting and analytics packages. Designed for ambitious and growing businesses, Propel is offering a free three-month trial to the Crowdcube community – refer to the end of the article for more information

Deloitte has a passion to make an impact that matters, and what better way than by supporting the lifeblood of the UK economy through helping start-ups and small/medium enterprises (SMEs) to grow. That’s why a small team at Deloitte started building Propel – to understand the challenges that ambitious businesses face, taking our vast knowledge and expertise working with larger businesses and making it relevant for smaller businesses.  We got to know lots of business owners from around the country in order to try to understand what their pain points were, and found that business owners were lacking actionable insights and struggled with keeping -on top of their finances. 

The purpose of Propel is to support ambitious start-ups and SMEs to grow by providing them with a subscription-based accounting and analytics package, which utilises the best-in-class cloud software and apps. These apps can be plugged into the Propel Dashboard, which enables entrepreneurs and business owners to proactively track how their business is performing in real-time. Business owners now have access to measure bespoke financial KPIs (powered by Xero, QuickBooks Online or Sage One Accounting) to track daily sales performance, how long customers are taking to pay or the gross profitability of different product lines. Additionally, the dashboard has the ability to measure non- financial KPIs such as social following (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), website traffic (Google Analytics) or blended KPIs such as marketing activity (MailChimp, Campaign Monitor). 

Bookkeeping and accounting is just the start – at Propel we add value in different ways such as supporting businesses with their fundraising activities (cash flow forecasting, investor readiness, introductions to investors), tax advice around their internationalisation strategy and making sure that they are fully utilising Government tax schemes (SEIS, EIS, R&D).

Helping SMEs grow – Getting your finances in place
Getting your finances in order is crucial in helping companies raise and borrow money in the future. Doing so will allow you to give potential investors assurance that their funds are likely to be in safe hands, as well as providing a sound basis for being able to put together a forward-looking cash flow forecast or model which can be backed up with reasonable assumptions.

Accurately recording your costs and revenues will allow you to assess the gross profitability of different revenue streams across periods of time, to identify things like seasonal trends in your sales data.
Additionally, this activity can then be used to benchmark future performance. You may wish to measure online marketing spend as a percentage of sales (if you are an e-commerce business) or your monthly recurring revenue (if you run a SaaS company). 

How crowdfunding can fit into this
Crowdfunding is increasingly becoming the go-to source of equity finance for modern and savvy entrepreneurs as it provides many benefits alongside access to capital, creating brand advocates, being able to run a marketing campaign and generating new sales.

Recently this has been particularly successful for our client Tribe, who raised £1.7 million on Crowdcube to grow their sports nutrition business, to help them reach their goal of becoming the largest business of its kind in Europe by 2025.

The services that Propel offer include being able to complete Advanced Assurance forms for SEIS and EIS applications. Businesses that are eligible for SEIS/EIS are a lot more attractive to individual investors as it offers the investors compelling tax incentives. In turn, this makes businesses more attractive as it is perceived as ’de-risking’ the investment, as well as making associated crowdfunding campaigns more marketable.

Guy Hacking, co-founder of Tribe, pictured above (left), says: “EIS is an essential part of the investment process as it mitigates investor risks and enhances upside potential. This undoubtedly increases the investment appetite for higher risk investments of this kind.”

Tribe’s Crowdcube campaign was EIS registered and may have been a contributory factor in helping them beat their initial target of £1 million, and raise a total of £1.7 million.  

Tribe found that our accurate and timely bookkeeping aided their campaign success by giving their investors confidence in the numbers. The Tribe team also had more time to focus on their pitch as opposed to keeping on top of their financials.

Imagine being able to see the current performance of your business anywhere at any time. What are my best selling products? What is my most profitable product this week? The Propel dashboard provides the answers, and we would like to offer the Crowdcube audience a free three-month trial.

To access the free trial please email at [email protected], with the subject 'Free dashboard trial via Crowdcube'.

Andy Aitken

Guest author: Andy Aitken Strategy and Operations at Deloitte Propel

Andy is an ACA qualified Senior Manager at Deloitte and leads Strategy and Operations at Propel by Deloitte. Propel by Deloitte supports ambitious start-ups and SMEs as they grow, offering real-time accounting and bespoke data analytics on a flexible, affordable monthly subscription.