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E21 | Helping Businesses Get Proper Funding: Meet Stephen Sacks

Today I’m talking to Stephen Sacks, the author of Reboot your Business, a step-by-step guide to reinventing your business for maximum growth.

Stephen’s book includes a fantastic section on how to apply for grants. It also offers plenty of actionable tips on how to fund your business from free cash. Remember that allowing a third party to come in and help you rethink your funding methods can be very helpful.

On today’s podcast:

  • Lack of cash can be the symptom of a bigger problem
  • Common issues businesses face
  • Stephen’s turning point
  • His passion for helping businesses acquire free cash
  • Motivation drives success
  • Stephen’s book recommendations


Common problems

Stephen is the founder of Funding Nav, a company dedicated to helping a variety of businesses raise capital.

When they work with turnarounds or scaleups, Stephen and his team often realize that the lack of cash is actually a symptom of a deeper malaise. They first try and fix this problem without any funding, because funding is expensive and will influence the way the business is run.

Problems are often around:

  • Pricing. Increasing your prices may mean losing some of your cheaper customers, but also getting some better quality ones. Oftentimes companies create a price architecture and then become afraid of letting customers down by increasing their prices. Entrepreneurs may experience a mental block about this, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s good to have an external view in your business.
  • Sales and marketing. LinkedIn is an enormous networking opportunity and a great tool for customer acquisition. It should be used extensively.
  • Capacity issues

Helping businesses acquire free cash

When he turned 50, Stephen had a bit of a midlife crisis. He started to really think about what he wanted to do. He realized two things:

  • He had fallen out of love with his day job
  • He was not very good at soft skills (HR, management) and didn’t really want to have a team anymore. His strong points were around funding, sales and marketing.

So he turned this into a business and he’s now having a huge amount of fun and making more money than before.

One of Stephen’s specialities is helping businesses acquire free cash. It’s all about R&D tax credit, video games tax relief, capital allowances, pricing and customer acquisition.

Getting free cash is basically about margin improvements. It’s doing an MOC of your business and bringing in more money with no cost whatsoever, both from external and internal sources.

Motivation drives success

The biggest thing startups get wrong is only thinking about how to receive more and more funding, without a clear plan on how to make profit. Startups don’t focus enough on where the money should come from, which is the customer basically.

If he could go back in time, what would he do differently? He would have started this business 10 years ago. He spent too long knowing that he should make a move and do something different, but he was afraid of doing something entirely new.

What people forget is that motivation drives success. If you go into a business without a huge commitment, you will most likely fail. You don’t have a hunger anymore. You’re better off being uncomfortable and taking risks.

Stephen’s book recommendations

His book, Reboot your Business, contains three sections:

  • A spin on how the world is rapidly changing. Businesses that succeed are very open to change.
  • How to get your idea funded
  • How to make margin improvements in order to make profit

Stephen’s book recommendations:

Monash: The Outsider Who Won A War by Roland Perry

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