Getting your company quoted on a stock exchange has its pitfalls.[QQ] True, it may have been a stated or implied condition of the venture capital backing you received a few years ago. And it's damn impressive down at the golf club to be seen as a director of a newly christened "quoted plc". It can even be a positive advantage, enabling you to expand your business by offering - tradeable - shares in exchange for another business.

But you have to know what you’re in for. The whole process of “going to market” is long and fraught with tribulations. You must, as so many FDs have warned, have excellent back-up management who can be relied upon to run the business while you go about floating it. You must also get used to the idea that City whizz-kids and business journalists half your age will sometimes ask why you “failed” to meet their “forecast”. And, because the company that used to be yours is now 423rd in an investment manager’s portfolio, you will have to get used to a whole new meaning of the word “owner”. But equity investment is the engine of capitalism and stock exchanges help oil the wheels. As for picking the right stockmarket, that’s a case of “horses for bourses”. We hope the following guide to the major markets used by British companies will help.

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