Financing a start-up can be challenging. In this post, we explore the various ways – from start-up loans to crowdfunding – in which you can go about overcoming this challenge.
The world has seen unprecedented innovation in the last 30 years. By many estimates, these years account for more path-breaking, paradigm-shift-inducing inventions, innovations and ideas than the rest of the human history combined.
It wouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that this culture of innovation has impacted the economy just as definitively as it has our everyday lives. The smartphones we use, the smart payments we make and the big data we routinely stand in awe of – these innovations have left few aspects of modern life untouched. Much the reason why, there has also been a remarkably noticeable upsurge in the number of people answering their entrepreneurial ‘calling’.
The numbers are telling in this regard. In the last five years, the business registration rate has steadily increased despite all the uncertainties around the impending Brexit. If your start-up is among these, it’s quite likely that you are looking for better ways than putting your life savings at stake to raise enough capital.
The Importance of Financing a Start-up Correctly
Choosing a right set of financing options is of utmost importance for any commercial activity.
For start-ups, however, this becomes an even more sensitive proposition. Unfortunately, many promising start-ups pay the price for indecisiveness, inaction and incorrect decision-making. We have seen that the start-up culture is booming in the UK – but there’s always a downside to every argument. The statistics released by the ONS suggest that 48% of new businesses do not survive their first four years of trading. In 40% of such cases, financing problems is the major reason.
By weighing the start-up financing options discussed below, you can avoid your start-up from meeting this grim fate.
1. Start-up Loans
When it comes to funding start-ups in the UK, start-up loans should be the first option you explore.
In the last few years, start-ups have managed to instil a good deal of confidence among lenders. More and more private lenders and banks have started looking at start-ups as huge opportunities, and not mindless, risk-filled adventures. This pattern means that getting a start-up loan is the most affordable and convenient funding option for start-ups across industries.
What is a Start-up Loan?
Start-up loans, even though granted exclusively to start-up businesses, are more like personal loans than commercial loans. This is primarily due to the fact that start-ups don’t have any history of trading to refer to. In most cases, start-ups are founded by a small group of partners and have no history of business credit for the lenders to go by, either.
In essence, a start-up loan is a small, unsecured loan that hinges entirely on the viability of the business model and the personal credit history of the proprietor or the partners.
With one or more start-up loans, you can expect to raise capital up to £25,000.
Why Choose Start-up Loans?
Start-ups, unlike established businesses, have very specific needs, and start-up loans address these needs better than any other financing alternative.
- Easy to Secure
Start-up loans are much easier to secure when have a good-enough business plan and a blemish-free credit report.
- Fast Processing
Start-up loans are processed just as quickly as personal loans. This saves you precious time and resources that can be directed towards a successful launch.
- Little to No Collateral Required
Most lenders offer unsecured start-up loans, once they are convinced of your repayment potential. For higher loan amounts, some collateral may be required to offset the risk taken by the lender.
- Industry Expertise
This is one feature few other start-up financing options can offer.
If you receive a start-up loan offer from an experienced lender specialising in your industry of operation, it can add immense passive value to your business.
How to Get a Start-up a Loan?
Although most mainstream lenders offer start-up loans, the eligibility criteria and repayment schedules differ wildly from one lender to another. The easiest and fastest way of securing a start-up loan that is tailored to meet your needs is to have a reputed broker like Commercial Finance Broker on your side. Whole of market brokers can approach UK-wide lenders on your behalf, increasing your chances of getting affordable and customised start-up loan quotes.
2. Government Grants for Start-ups
If you are familiar with the start-up culture in the UK, you’ve probably heard of government grants. Even though relying solely on government grants to finance your start-up is impractical, it’s equally unwise to dismiss this option altogether.
What is a Government Grant?
A government grant is essentially a reward granted to various businesses and charitable organisations under various schemes and from various public funds. The primary motive behind the establishment and distribution of government grants is to incentivise innovation, foster entrepreneurship and, in turn, create more employment in various business sectors.
Depending upon the objectives of the grant, your start-up can receive upfront cash rewards, tax incentives, equipment support, technical support and no-interest/low-interest loans. UK start-ups can receive grants from the local authorities, the UK Government and the European Union.
Government Grants for Start-ups: Types and Features
- Direct Grant (Direct Finance)
This is the most popular type of government grant available for start-ups and young businesses. When you apply for a direct grant, most schemes and trusts will require you to match the grant reward 1:1. In other words, you can expect to raise up to 50% of the required capital using the grant, while the rest will need to be raised through private funding.
- Available for start-ups
- Grant size varies from £500 to £500,000 (subject to available schemes)
- No interest
- Soft Loans (Subsidised Loans)
Soft loans or subsidised loans aim to strike a balance between direct grants and private or peer-to-peer start-up loans. These loans, available as government grants, are subsidised with public funds so that cash-strapped start-ups can afford them.
- Loans up to £25,000 are available for start-ups
- The interest rates (4 to 6% p.a.) are much lower than other loan alternatives.
- The repayment terms are lenient and generous.
- Equity Finance (Tax Incentives)
This is a lesser-used but extremely powerful government grant. Through such schemes, the government promotes investments in start-ups by offering up to 50% rebates in the income tax for the investors. The rebate percentage depends upon the size of the business and the business sector.
- Income tax rebate up to £100,000 can be claimed.
- Available for start-ups and young businesses with fewer than 25 employees
Government Grants: What Start-ups Should Know
- Applying for and winning a government grant is often a time-consuming process. If your start-up requires an urgent finance package, grants may not always be useful.
- The competition is fierce. In recent years, it has become nearly impossible to win government grants in business sectors that do not have a direct impact on the socio-economic policies of the government.
- Even if you manage to win a government grant, you will still be required to secure an external loan to raise enough capital.
How to Apply for Government Grants
The application process is, in itself, a bottleneck. The slow processing times and ambiguous terms mean that you will need to prepare an extremely thoughtful grant application to qualify.
If you want to win a government grant for your start-up, a proven and systematic approach must be adopted.
- Know What the Grant is Trying to Achieve
Many start-ups choose to send applications to any and every grant scheme that comes up. This approach usually results into a great deal of wasted time and resources. Instead, you should aim to apply for grants that have specific objectives relating to your business sector.
- Communicate with the Grant Body/Organisation
It’s always advisable to have a clear communication with the grant body if any of its objectives or terms are unclear. This will help you understand whether you should invest your resources into preparing a grant application.
- Prepare a Grant Application That Stands Out
Remember – dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses will be competing against you to win the grant in question. Preparing an outstanding grant application will improve your chances significantly. Your grant application should be able to convey how your start-up aligns well with the grant objectives.
- Supplement Your Grant Application with a Business Plan
You will need a great business plan to bolster your grant application. In the business plan, emphasise the aspects of your business that directly concern the grant objectives. Additionally, you will be required to furnish any external funding commitments you may have received – especially if you are applying for a direct grant.
- Keep Checking for New Grants
Dozens of new start-up grants are introduced each month. It’s widely believed that the early-bird applications have a higher chance of winning government grants. The definitive list of available grants can be found at the Business Finance Support Portal launched by the UK Government.
If there’s one thing that has added an extra touch of glamour to the very idea of entrepreneurship, it’s the awe-inspiring risk appetite shown by external investors. The stories of start-ups receiving outlandish investment deals regularly make the rounds in start-up circles – and not without their reasons.
Having an external investor on board can be the most cost-effective way of financing your start-up. There are many ways in which your start-up can bring in external investments. Some of these are:
- Equity investments (selling a share of your equity in the business)
- Capital investments (mortgaging a share of your equity in the business)
- Credit lines (flexible credit lines on an as-needed basis in exchange for a fixed percentage of revenue/profits)
- Custom investments (fully customised investment plans)
Crowdfunding is an effective way of raising small sums of money, especially for consumer-facing start-ups. It’s all about letting numerous people contribute in their personal capacities in exchange for a stake in your business.
Crowdfunding is a good way to raise money in order to address specific business objectives such as: fuelling research, manufacturing prototypes, financing marketing campaigns and entering new markets.
Is Your Start-up the Next Big Thing? We’d Love to Hear from You!
There’s something innately attractive about dreaming of an idea, working hard to bring its seed to life and watching it grow into something significant. The unfortunate reality is that many such dreams are routinely cut short for the want of more funding.
At Commercial Finance Network, we’ve been living the entrepreneurial dream – with all its highs and lows – for over a decade. With the help of our UK-wide panel of specialist lenders, we’ve helped numerous start-ups overcome their financing problems. Customised to the highest degree, the start-up loans we broker are more than just loans – they are what the ambitious start-ups of today need to turn the corner and scale newer, higher peaks of success.
Don’t let the funding shortfall stifle your start-up even before it takes off. Call us on 03303 112 646 or fill in our contact form to request a free start-up loan quote.