It fills me with optimism to continue to see small businesses march on and remain a crucial stimulus for innovation and economic growth. We are fortunate to see new, disruptive technology come to market every day, though we cannot overlook the fact that – for the most part – if you’re running a small business it is still too difficult to access quality capital. On the one side, entrepreneurs are championed, yet on the other they are deprived of the money they need. The solution, I believe, is for companies to look to individual investors as a valuable source of finance, better equipped to meet the needs of small businesses.

We recently conducted a survey (Rise of the Growth Hunters) and it revealed that confidence in early-stage companies is on the up. This comes as little surprise considering that in the past five years, early-stage investment has seen a growth rate of more than six times that of the FTSE all-share index (33% CAGR for early stage, compared with 5% for the FTSE all-share index).

It also showed that risk appetite amongst individuals is rising – on average, retail investors are willing to reallocate 14% of their wealth into early-stage businesses in anticipation of their potentially higher growth. And based on the average available wealth individual investors hold, that equates to £25bn-worth available for early-stage businesses in the next 12 months.

It can be tough raising money as a small business, though the good news is that retail investors are increasingly looking to take on more risk for long-term returns. So, in the shining light of growing investor demand, the future looks bright for small businesses.