National Business Awards Entrepreneur finalist focus: Mark Smith, The Car Finance Company

Tell us about your business
We are a vehicle finance provider that enables “credit challenged” consumers and small business’ access credit so they can lead a life most of us take for granted.

How did you fund your business?
Initially through remortgaging, personal loans and credit cards. I subsequently borrowed from a high net wealth friend before obtaining structured bank financing from Germany.

What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs are facing?
Regulation can be a bit daunting at first but when you understand it and the spirit of what it is intended for, it gets easier.

Can you give any advice to others starting up businesses?
Many people will doubt you and your intended business and openly offer critique, especially when it’s not wanted or needed. My advice would be do not tell anyone what you are about to do (apart from necessity) and just do it. If your business is your only distraction and occupation you will make it work because you have to!!

How do you think we can encourage entrepreneurialism in young people to create a generation of entrepreneurs?
I am involved with a couple of projects in Hampshire at the moment (The Tenner challenge & The Young Enterprise Scheme), this involves me giving up a bit of spare time to talk to “under performing” schools and college students. It gives a bit of inspiration, assistance and encouragement to them. It also gets them involved in setting up and running real businesses. It would appear to work well and could be potentially rolled out to a wider audience. Most entrepreneurs enjoy talking about their achievements, so I suspect you will have lots of volunteers.