Beans means . . . the alternative business funding journey is not all glamour

Rush hour in Guildford is, I can report with some authority, horrible. Thus it was inevitable that when I accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at the Surrey University/Surrey Chambers conference on access to finance for small business, I would be arriving stressed.
A planned arrival time of 5.30pm, kick off at 6pm, seemed doable with an allowance of three hours to get there from Bristol. Silly me.
With Karmic inevitability, a hurried sound check on arrival revealed that the animated part of my presentation had the audio qualities of a silent movie. Stress up two more notches. First glance around the auditorium also contributed as it seemed large enough to comfortably house Madonna’s whole UK fan base. Two more notches . . .
But sound sorted and bums on seats, we eventually got going, and, as is always the way, once you get your stride things become easier, indeed they can be a lot of fun.
A brisk and sometimes irreverent trot through the process of conceiving a new collaborative ecosystem for delivering finance to small business, then having it passed into law, kept the audience amused, informed and impressed.
Some context as to how Clifton, and its brainchild, Alternative Business Funding, became the catalyst for this change, and how Pension-led funding was, for years, the alternative business funding option, allowed the room a good understanding of the DNA that formed the bank referrals legislation.
Forty minutes (ten over time – sorry) later, keynote delivered. The session switched to a panel debate with representatives from some of the better known and, indeed, lesser known alternative funders taking part. Of particular note were the contributions from Funding Circle and Metro Bank, both arguing cogently for organised collaboration between funders which is, of course, precisely what ABF is all about.
Most panellists, although not all, delivered value to the audience by resisting the urge to blatantly pitch their product. This kept the tone usefully informative and, I suspect, that many in the audience learned something new and hopefully useful.
Two hours later it was a wrap, job done. Time for everyone, audience and panellists, to mingle over a glass of wine and make useful contacts.
Not so for your keynote speaker, unfortunately. Wine plus a two-and-a-half hour drive don’t mix too well, so, job done I emerged into the Surrey dusk and pointed my car West, towards home and a date with late night baked beans on a jacket potato.
It’s all glamour.