How much could your business save?Find out now!
Or, you can call us on:0800 411 8830

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 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.


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 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 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

Halloween Energy News

The Week’s Top Energy News – Halloween edition

Welcome to a Halloween themed edition of our weekly energy round-up. This week, we take a look at spooky ener...

Read More
could a cyber attack bring down the energy grid?

Could a cyber attack bring down the energy grid?

On Friday October 21st, people tried to log on to Twitter. The site was down. Cyber hackers had crashed the wo...

Read More
in depth: how long would electricity last in a zombie apocalypse?

In Depth: Electricity in a zombie apocalpyse

This is a companion piece to our Zombie Apocalypse Infographic, where we investigate how long energy will last...

Read More
Excellent, 9.4 / 10

Competent and courteous service.

"Marie was knowledgeable and helpful. I feel able to recommend the service given without reservation. David Slesenger"

This review was posted by David Slesenger on the 16th of August 2016

Good service

"Nadia was very helpful"

This review was posted by Robin on the 16th of August 2016

Excellent Customer Service *****

"Jonathan Burgess is an asset to Switch My Business. He made me feel at ease and was more than helpful at all times. He made regular contact and guided me through the whole process which made switching a breeze. I just wish there were more customer service advisers like Jonathon whose friendly and happy demeanour make your day a much nicer one. Well done Switch my business and more importantly thank you Jonathon for all your hard work! Maria Owen Lodgecrest"

This review was posted by Maria Owen on the 17th of August 2016


"I totally agree with a customer maria owen,Jonathan Burgess was such a pleasure dealing with and is truly a asset to the company, he made it very easy to switch my electricity companies, Jonathan Burgess was very helpful, easy to talk to it was like talking to a friend not just a customer adviser. I would definitely recommend switchmybusiness and try get hold off Jonathan Burgess if possible and have the same excellent service as I did. Rajan Shanan"

This review was posted by Rajan Shanan on the 19th of August 2016

Excellent and very helpful

"Arron who dealt with my switch of energy and gas has been a huge help and extremely efficienct and easy to deal with. Despite British Gas throwing obstacles in the way at every turn he has doggedly stuck to his task and saved the day. Thanks Arron."

This review was posted by Rod Pryce-Jones on the 19th of August 2016