quote
menu

Understanding funding options for small businesses


Sources of finance for UK SME businesses include banks, crowdfunding, equity finance and government funding. How do you choose the right one?

After several years of limited access to finance, the funding situation is gradually improving. “The current climate is more positive in the business lending sector with the growth of the challenger banks and less traditional funders such as crowdfunding services providing both competition for the major banks and real choice for businesses,” says Lee Tillcock, editor at financial analysis business Moneyfacts.

But numerous options will need to be explored before the right funding lines are found, says Tillcock. “Businesses should discuss their requirements with commercial finance brokers and/or their accountants to ensure that all lending possibilities are being considered.”

Banks

Banks are the most obvious place to start, although they can still be reluctant to lend to smaller firms.

“There are various ways banks will lend, such as invoice discounting or lending against your assets,” says Rob Donaldson, head of corporate finance at accountant Baker Tilly. “These ways are perceived as safer than something like cashflow lending, which is the equivalent of an unsecured personal loan.”

The rate of interest can vary significantly depending on what level of risk you are assessed as having and how much you want to borrow.

Crowdfunding

Online lending and investment platforms are becoming a more acceptable way of helping businesses obtain debt and equity funding using money from individuals. These peer-to-peer (P2P) networks include the likes of FundingCircle.com and often prove less risk averse than the banks.

On equity crowdfunding platforms, you publish details of your business, how much money you need and why, and what investors will get in return.

P2P lending, on the other hand, involves your company being given a risk rating, which dictates the interest rate you pay. A pool of private lenders will then provide your firm’s finance – the riskier you are, the higher their returns will be.

Recent figures from FundingCircle.com show the platform lent £46 million to small firms in the third quarter of last year. In comparison, Lloyds Banking Group – the UK’s biggest lender to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – lent £304 million over the same period.

Equity finance

Other equity options include venture capitalists and private equity firms, which can inject money into your company in return for some form of a share of ownership in your business. “This means the investor gets a share in the upside for your business,” says Donaldson. “But giving up equity doesn’t always mean giving up control.”

Contact the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) for more information.

Government funding

A number of Government-backed programmes aimed at funding growing businesses are available but these vary by sector and region. The Business Growth Fund, for example, aims to channel bank money to growing firms and will give you some ideas of what opportunities are available.

Related Articles

Moving Premises and Business Energy

We know that moving into new businesses premises can be stressful and important tasks, such as organising your...

Read More

Deemed Contract Rates

What are Deemed Contracts? A Deemed Contract is an informal agreement which may be entered into should your bu...

Read More

Out-of-Contract Rates

Out-of-Contract rates Out-of-Contract rates are applied by business energy suppliers when customers have come ...

Read More
Excellent, 9.7 / 10

A lovely lady called Bhavni phoned me …

"A lovely lady called Bhavni phoned me very quickly after I went online. She couldn't have been more helpful, explaining all the different rates for me. She managed to save me a huge amount per year - gave me her direct phone number if I needed to phone again - like gold-dust! even gave me a termination letter to send to my supplier. Couldn't have been easier and will definitely use again - and hope I get to speak to Bhavni again. Thanks again"

This review was posted by Julie Dickie on the 17th of January 2018

Excellent service and hassle free

"Excellent service and hassle free, Jessica Purnell handled everything for me and got us a great deal, even giving advice on how to cancel the previous contract. Thank You"

This review was posted by Neville Blenkinsopp on the 17th of January 2018

Brilliant service

"Brilliant service - very quick to the point and explained everything very well! Would recommend to anyone who is looking to change their electricity supplier."

This review was posted by Jess on the 17th of January 2018

Excellent service straight to the point …

"Excellent service straight to the point and the process was painless!"

This review was posted by Nick K on the 16th of January 2018

I wanted to switch energy supplier as …

"I wanted to switch energy supplier as had been with current one for a number of years but prices had increased quite a lot. I dealt with an extremely helpful person called Bhavni Manek, she made this a very quick and easy experience and would use the company again if they are all as great as she was"

This review was posted by amanda green on the 15th of January 2018