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Financial awareness – are you sufficiently savvy?



Know your numbers' is a fundamental precept of business.

Bill Gates




In 2017, from those who gave feedback, 95% referenced financial awareness as an invaluable additional skill.

Key lessons in finance

Being financially aware is an important life-lesson, whether it's looking after your own money or that of someone you work for. But it doesn’t always come easy. Many of us learn the hard way, running up large student overdrafts or forgetting to keep money aside for credit card bills. If it's just your personal finances, it's not so bad. Apply the same ignorance in business and you will fall at the first hurdle. So, how do we prepare for the business world out there?

Raising finance for your business is a drawn-out affair, so build in plenty of time to address this most important aspect of business development. And having cash in place to begin with is not enough - you need on-going financial plans to show you understand cash-flow, have future projections in place and what assumptions they are based on. Profitability may be the end goal but you may need more useful indicators, such as growth rate, during start up.


Financial learning with a safety net

These lessons and many more can be learnt in the safe environment of the YES Competitions. Whether just for your personal financial security or if planning on working in academia or industry, you will get an overview of the essentials of financial management. In 2017, from those who gave feedback, 95% referenced financial awareness as an invaluable additional skill.

For those using the Researcher Development Framework tool, designed by Vitae to help Early Career Researchers (ECRs) evaluate and plan their own personal, professional and career development, the descriptors “understands the basic principles of financial management” and “has some commercial awareness” can both be signed off by participating in YES too!

Topics covered at the workshop include:

  • what makes a good investment
  • where the funding comes from
    (eg awards, grants, small investors,
    venture capitalists)
  • return on investment expected by investors
  • equity splits and exit routes
  • how to do cash-flow forecasts and understand profit and loss accounts
  • the importance of long-term financial planning and monitoring cash burn

Proven business acumen for employment

Preparing a business plan for the judging panel focused my thoughts on commercial strategy and what questions an investor would ask about our pitch. I use the same skills in my current role as a Venture Capital investor, when assessing business plans and commercial strategies. My experiences during YES are always a talking point at interview, providing clear examples of business acumen that employers look for.

Dr Carmine Circelli |
Investment Executive
Development Bank of Wales


YES definitely made me think differently about my career path. It was also an excellent introduction to becoming financially aware and breaking down the barriers to understanding the jargon that has now become my everyday norm. I would definitely recommend YES as I met many people along the way that’s been able to support me in my career so far and I really enjoyed the whole learning experience!

Dr Kelly Ward |
Audit Associate (part-qualified)
Grant Thornton


As a venture capital investor since 1993, I have seen numerous presentations from companies seeking investment. This can range from hundreds of thousands of pounds to many millions. I'm always hugely encouraged by how eager ECRs are to learn the skills of pitching for investment. Most, if not all, have seen the pitfalls of being unprepared when pitching to the judges on Dragons Den. Over a three days period they amaze themselves at how good they become at being able to put across a compelling business idea in a restricted period of time in a high pressure environment. You can see them grow as people gaining confidence through the process. The final pitches are often better than the ones I see in my day job.

Professor Rob Carroll |
Director and Investment Committee Chair
Catapult Ventures Group


To find out more about YES and how you too can become financially aware

Young Entrepreneurs Scheme

  • Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Nottingham University Business School
  • Jubilee Campus
  • Nottingham, NG8 1BB