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SMEs start looking for larger loans

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are beginning to look for larger loans of £100,000 or more, as they seek to scale after the disruption of Covid-19.

According to the latest SME Expert Index by business lender Iwoca, in the third quarter of last year loans under £25,000 were the most popular among SMEs. However by the fourth quarter, the majority of SMEs were seeking loans of £100,000 or more.

Iwoca noted that the shifts in priorities reflect a change in confidence in the economy over the past year.
In the first quarter of last year, just 25 per cent of brokers said that their SME clients were borrowing money to fund their growth, but this figure rose to 43 per cent by the fourth quarter of 2021.

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Fears surrounding Covid appear to be dissipating, with just nine per cent of brokers saying that recovery from lockdown or closure was the reason that SMEs were requesting finance.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of brokers told Iwoca that loans valued between £100,001 and £200,000 were the most commonly requested among their SME clients in the fourth quarter of last year.

Meanwhile, demand for smaller loans have fallen by 15 per cent, quarter-on-quarter.

“This quarter’s SME Expert Index indicates growing confidence among small businesses, who have endured the blow of the Omicron shock,” said Colin Goldstein, commercial growth director of Iwoca.

“After two years of uncertainty, SMEs are now able to set their sights on growth – an encouraging sign that the mainstay of the UK economy is on its feet once again.

“We need to continue to support small businesses in accessing finance, to power this growth and contribute to a meaningful economic recovery.”


Source: P2P Finance News

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Glasgow ranked top UK location for small businesses

Glasgow has emerged as the best city to work in for a small business in Britain, according to new research compiled by small business lender iwoca.

It ranked areas using Office for National Statistics data on average wage, commute, job density, house price and growth of the number of small businesses.

Glasgow topped the list, scoring highly on the shortness of the average commute and the growth of small businesses in the city since 2016.

Glaswegians spend on average 29 minutes commuting between work and home, compared to 50 minutes in Richmond upon Thames.

Between 2016 and 2021, the number of small businesses in the city also increased by 49%. With its burgeoning finance, technology and industrial sectors and plans to build a new Glasgow Metro, iwoca said the city is a natural centre for small business jobs in Scotland.

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Dundee came 7th in the top 25, scoring highly on the growth of small businesses in the city since 2016 – boasting 50% growth – but poorly on average hourly wage and job density, where it ranked outside the top 100 and 25 respectively.

Although a major centre for tourism, Edinburgh lagged behind Glasgow and Dundee on the growth in the number of small businesses, which increased by 32% between 2016 and 2021, ranking outside the top 50 in Britain for this measure.

With its high house prices and long commute times, London did not appear within the Top 25.

RankLocal AuthorityCommuting time (minutes)Average hourly wageJob densitySME Growth 2016 to 2021Average house price
5Newcastle upon Tyne30£18.431.0245.72%£175,000

Francesca Cingano, owner of Glasgow-based Italian catering business Cateritaly, said: “Moving from Italy to Glasgow in 2014 to set up an Italian catering business was the best decision I have made.

“Strangers have gone out of their way to help us solve business problems, commuting around the city is super easy and the council have been incredibly helpful assisting us with health and safety measures, and hiring new apprentices.

“In this environment, we are excited to continue to grow, scale and hire over the coming years.”

Christoph Rieche, iwoca’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “The pandemic has fundamentally changed the life choices we make – it has changed the way we work, where we want to be based and has made many people across the country consider if their current career or company they work for is the right one for them.

“The big corporations grab the headlines and have the profile, but it’s the small businesses who are making this country tick.

“It’s really fantastic to see Glasgow featured as the top spot for SME jobs.”

By Peter A Walker

Source: Insider

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How small businesses are coping after two years of lockdowns

With Plan B measures easing this week, Britain’s small businesses are beginning to look forward, cautiously, to running in a more ‘normal’ fashion.

However, the landscape for these companies — which make up over 99% of UK businesses — has changed unimaginably in the two years since Covid first hit our shores.

The long months of closures, restrictions and constantly changing guidance have taken their toll on SMEs in every sector.

One study from business insurer SimplyBusiness suggests that, on average, small businesses have lost over £20,000 each due to the virus.

Now business owners are concerned about an impending rise in National Insurance, spiralling inflation and the tapering-off of the final coronavirus support schemes.

But despite storm clouds on the horizon, Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman, says there is optimism in the sector, with more than half of small firms planning growth this year.

‘After two years of turmoil, in which firms have once again shown their adaptability and resilience, the small business community stands ready to spur our economic recovery.

The majority intend to grow over the coming 12 months, and many are looking to increase headcounts,’ he says.

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How small businesses have been affected

The latest government statistics make for sobering reading. The number of private businesses in the UK had been steadily rising until coronavirus came along, then shrank 6.5% in the calendar year 2020 to 2021.

‘One-man band’ businesses are the most likely to have closed, while large businesses only declined by 1%. While there are no more up-to-date statistics on this measure, there is evidence that the situation has worsened since.

The number of businesses removed from the government register was up 24% on the average in the first three quarters of 2021, suggesting a further wave of closures.

The cost has also been huge for those small businesses that have survived. Bank of England figures show that SMEs are now 25% more indebted than they were before the pandemic, because they have borrowed in order to survive. The Bank warned that these debt-laden businesses are vulnerable and that there will be more insolvencies ahead.

The wellbeing of entrepreneurs and small business owners has been badly affected. Alan Thomas, UK CEO at insurer Simply Business, says that over 60% of small business owners have been impacted by financial worries due to the pandemic, with one in five saying that the pandemic has left them in a ‘bad place’ in terms of their mental health.

‘Small business owners have encountered countless challenges during the course of the pandemic,’ Thomas says. ‘Livelihoods are on the line, and understandably this has had a huge impact on people’s wellbeing, with a staggering 82% last year reporting poor mental health.

‘Entering 2022, it’s clear that many of these challenges remain, from staff shortages to supply chain issues. This worrying situation should concern us all, because small businesses are crucial to our economy and communities, and will be central to our collective recovery.’

Not all small businesses have been affected equally by the pandemic. Figures show that certain sectors and certain areas of the UK have found it particularly difficult.

Looking to the future

There is evidence that the small business sector may thrive again. More encouraging government statistics suggest more than 1,800 companies are being set up every day, with London and the South-East the most popular places to start a business, and the North-West the next most popular region.

The latest Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey shows that nearly one in six SMEs increased its number of employees in the quarter to December last year, with 17% hoping to do the same this quarter.

Some sectors, of course, are firing on all cylinders. The technology sector counted 2021 its best year ever, with start-up and scale-up businesses raising a record £29.4billion.

According to the FSB, small businesses in the construction industry and the information and communication sector are feeling confident about the future.

At the other end of the scale, though, retailers, accommodation providers and small businesses in the manufacturing industry are far less confident about what 2022 will bring, pushing the overall score for SME confidence down to a one-year low.

Kay Daniel Neufeld, head of forecasting and thought leadership at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, says Omicron had a ‘chilling effect’ on business confidence in the retail and leisure sectors, while manufacturers remain concerned about supply chain issues and inflation, which has pushed up costs.

‘The share of small businesses reporting that operating costs have increased rose to a decade high of 72.9% in Q4 2021, with greater expenses for inputs, fuel, utility and labour being the main causes,’ says Neufeld.

So, while some businesses are rejoicing in a return to normality or even growing from shoots put down during lockdown, many are still battered by the experience of the last two years, and fighting on all fronts to survive.

The onus may be on the government to ensure the SME sector continues to grow, with Cherry, at the FSB, asking in particular for more funding so that companies can deal with the issues ahead.

‘Come April, they’ll be faced with a jobs tax hike, an increase in dividend taxation and fresh business rates bills,’ he says of his members.

‘We need the government to start looking closely at the policies that will empower the small business community to spur our recovery from this recession, as it did the last. The growth intentions are there, but we need the right support to turn vision into reality.’

By Rosie Murray-West

Source: Metro

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How To Find The Best Business Loan

Whether you’re planning to expand your business with new premises or equipment or to invest in recruitment or marketing, you may be considering taking out a business loan.

To help you decide whether a business loan is the right finance option for you, here we take a look at what they are, what you’ll need to apply for one, and the alternatives, as well as answering some common questions about business loans.

What is a business loan?

A business loan is a form of borrowing for commercial businesses rather than individuals. Some may be more suitable for start-up businesses while others may only be suitable for businesses with a certain number of years of filed accounts.

You’ll usually repay the amount you borrow in monthly instalments over an agreed period of time, with interest on top. Typically, business loans are for amounts from around £1,000 up to potentially millions.

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Are business loans secured?

Business loans can be secured or unsecured. A secured loan is one that is linked to an asset, such as property, vehicles or stock. This means that if you can’t make payments, the lender may take your asset to pay for the loan. 

As there is less risk to the lender, secured loans are usually for higher amounts and interest rates are usually lower.

Unsecured loans don’t require an asset as security so tend to be for smaller sums and come with higher interest rates. Unsecured loans may be more suitable for small businesses without large assets. 

Some lenders will ask for a personal guarantee from a company director for an unsecured loan.

What types of business loan are there?

Some of the most common types of business loans include:

Bank loan

With a bank business loan, you’ll borrow a set amount of cash from a bank or building society over an agreed period of time, with interest.

Government-backed Start Up Loan

This is an unsecured personal loan backed by the government to start or grow your business. To apply for this type of loan, you must live in the UK, be over the age of 18 and have (or plan to start) a UK-based business that’s been fully trading for less than 24 months.

Start Up Loans have a fixed interest rate of 6%, are for amounts of from £500 to £25,000, and you can repay the loan over a period of one to five years.

Short-term business loan

Short-term business loans are aimed at commercial organisations which want to borrow for a few months, rather than years, and don’t want to be tied into lengthy repayments. They can be over a period of weeks or months. However, they tend to charge higher interest rates than other loans so make sure you know what these are.

Peer-to-peer business loan

With a peer-to-peer loan (or a P2P), you’ll borrow money from private investors rather than a bank. You will usually be matched to these investors through an online platform. You may need to pay a fee to arrange the loan, so pay careful attention to any fees, charges and interest rates before committing.

Cash advance

A cash advance business loan (also known as merchant cash advance) allows you to borrow money against your business’ future credit or debit card sales. The amount you repay monthly will be based on a pre-agreed percentage of your card sales, so you’ll pay more when your business is doing well and less when it’s not.

Invoice finance

This is when a lender uses your unpaid invoices as security to lend to you. There are two main types of invoice financing:

  • invoice factoring – you’ll be able to borrow a percentage of the value of your invoices and the lender will collect payment direct from your customers. The lender will then take its costs and you’ll be paid the remaining balance.
  • invoice discounting – this allows you to borrow against the value of your invoices, but you’ll collect money from your customers and then pay your agreed fee.

How do you decide which type of business loan to apply for?

When considering taking out a business loan and deciding which type to apply for, you’ll need to think about:

  • how much money you want to borrow
  • which loans are suitable for your business type – some loans such as Start Up Loans are only suitable for new businesses, while cash advance business loans are only suitable for businesses that generate a certain amount of revenue via card payments
  • how much you can afford to pay back each month, taking the interest rate into account
  • the length of time you’d like to take the loan out for. While it may be tempting to take a loan out over a longer length of time, you may end up paying more overall in interest
  • comparing the fees and charges with each loan you are considering.

It’s important to compare your options and to shop around before committing to an option or lender, looking at the overall costs of borrowing.

What do I need to apply for a business loan?

Before you apply for a business loan, you’ll need to be clear about:

  • the amount you’d like to borrow
  • what you are borrowing the money for
  • how much you can afford to repay each month
  • how long you’ll need to repay the loan.

As with other types of loans, your business’ credit rating is likely to be checked, with more competitive loan terms generally being offered for those with a good credit score.

Some ways to improve your business’ credit score include:

  • checking your credit report and disputing any errors
  • paying bills on time
  • if you’re a limited company, filing full, rather than abbreviated, accounts to Companies House
  • making sure you have enough money in your account to cover any planned payments
  • only applying for credit when you need it. Making lots of applications suggests you are struggling financially. You could ask for a quote instead
  • keeping all of your information, such as your business address, up-to-date. Notify suppliers, as well as Companies House, of any changes
  • avoiding county court judgements (CCJ) as these are recorded on your credit report.

You may also be asked for copies of your business accounts, bank statements, details of profits and loss, tax returns, a business plan and proof of address and IDs of company directors.

Once you have gathered your documentation and have decided on the type of business loan most suitable for you, you can shop around then apply.

What should I consider when comparing business loans?

When comparing loans, some important elements to check are:

  • whether you are eligible for the loan you are considering. Always check the lender’s requirements carefully before applying
  • what the interest rates are for the loan and whether they are fixed or variable. It’s worth remembering that Representative APR means that the rate, or lower, is offered to at least 51% of applicants, so 49% of applicants will likely be offered a higher rate
  • whether your loan provider offers a repayment holiday (a few months off paying). However, taking a break from paying will mean that it will take you longer overall to pay off the loan and you’ll pay more in interest in the long run
  • whether there’s an early repayment charge on the loan.

What are the alternatives to taking out a business loan?

If you don’t think that a business loan is for you, there are other options including:

  • Business credit cards – if you are looking to borrow smaller sums, a business credit card may be suitable. You may benefit from an interest-free period on your purchases. However, always pay your balance off each month to avoid paying interest charges or fees and check what the card’s annual fee and interest rates are after any 0% period.
  • Crowdfunding – this allows you to raise investment, often by pitching your business idea online, in exchange for rewards for the investors you attract. You could sell a stake of your business through equity crowdfunding or offer a reward such as free products or tickets through reward crowdfunding.
  • Overdrafts – your business account may have an overdraft which is either interest free or a low APR. This is usually only suitable for small amounts, though, and you’ll need to check the terms of your overdraft and stick to them.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if I miss a payment on a business loan or can’t pay it back?

If you miss a payment, you’ll have to make up the missing amount as soon as possible. You’ll probably have to pay a late payment fee and extra interest and may have to pay an administration fee too, depending on the terms and conditions of your loan. If you’ve taken out a secured loan, your assets may be seized if you default on the loan completely.

Defaulting on your loan can affect your credit score and how likely you are to be able to take business finance out in the future. The timeframe for defaulting will be detailed in your loan contract so read this carefully. If you can’t pay back your loan, the lender may take legal action to reclaim it.

Do I need to have a business account to take out a business loan?

This will depend on the type of loan you choose and who you want to borrow the money from. If you borrow from your bank, it may be more straightforward as it will know your business history – but always shop around to make sure it’s a competitive way to borrow.

Can I take out a business loan if I have a poor credit rating?

You may be able to take out certain business loans with a poor credit rating, but you are likely to be offered higher interest rates and more checks may be done on your business. You may be more likely to be approved for a secured loan than an unsecured one.

How long will it take to get a business loan?

The length of time it takes your loan to go through will depend on a number of factors such as the type of loan you are applying for, the documentation you can provide, the amount you are borrowing and whether you are applying for a secured or unsecured loan. 

With a secured loan, as an example, you will need to allow time for your assets to be valued.

By Cathy Toogood

Source: Forbes

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Recovery on track as more UK business sectors see output grow

The number of UK business sectors reporting output growth rose last month as supply conditions improved, according to a new report.

However, firms continued to face “significant” cost inflation, which translated into a record uptick in selling prices among service sector businesses, the latest Bank of Scotland (BoS) UK Recovery Tracker reveals.

The number of UK sectors reporting output growth increased in January to 11 out of 14 – up from ten in December, and the highest number since last October.

UK chemicals manufacturers registered the fastest output growth of any sector monitored, due to a solid increase in new orders, after contracting in December. Fewer supplier delays helped automotive manufacturers’ output increase at the fastest rate in seven months.

But concern over the Omicron variant and Plan B restrictions, which remained in place for the majority of January in England, hampered activity for consumer-facing businesses.

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Jeavon Lolay, head of economics and market insight at BoS parent Lloyds’ commercial banking division, said: “An increase in the number of sectors reporting output growth in January is good news to start the year.

“While consumer-facing service businesses have borne the brunt of Covid-19, high-frequency data show activity here also rebounding after restrictions were eased last month.

“If it goes ahead, the announcement that all Covid regulations could be abolished earlier than planned in England in the coming weeks should also translate into stronger consumer demand as the post-pandemic recovery further normalises.

“Sharp focus will also be on how the divergent inflationary trends revealed in our report unfold in the months ahead.”

By Scott Reid

Source: The Scotsman

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Natwest launching green loans to help UK businesses go and grow greener

NatWest has today announced it is launching green loans, and through Lombard, green asset finance propositions for qualifying SMEs, with no arrangement fee, to help them achieve their sustainability ambitions.

Following the announcement of the bank’s ambition to provide £100bn of Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing to customers by the end of 2025, green loans and green asset finance are due to be open for applications from 18 February 2022. Together, these propositions aim to help qualifying SMEs finance the business assets to support their sustainability ambitions, such as solar panels, electric vehicles, or heat pumps on commercial buildings that fall within the eligible list developed by the bank on an ongoing basis.

Customers do not need to be existing NatWest customers to apply, and the green loan proposition will be available across NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Ulster Bank NI brands, whilst the Green Asset Finance will be available through the Lombard brand.

The new propositions are designed to open up opportunities for sustainable growth options for qualifying SMEs and reflect the societal benefit of delivering climate action. To apply, qualifying SMEs will work directly with a NatWest or Lombard Relationship Manager to discuss their needs and check their eligibility.

The announcement follows the publication of NatWest’s A Springboard to Sustainable Recovery report[1] last October, which found that the UK’s six million SMEs can achieve 50% of the UK’s Net Zero decarbonisation goals worth an estimated £160bn revenue opportunity. However, the report found that less than 10% of SMEs currently see climate action as a source of future growth, and that SMEs lack access to support through funding, knowledge and training.

The new propositions will be open to applications from qualifying SMEs who want to acquire assets that fall within the eligible list developed by the bank from time to time, relating to:

  • Clean buildings: retrofits for buildings and low carbon heating measures
  • Clean energy: renewable energy generation and energy storage systems
  • Clean transport: electric vehicles
  • Agriculture: renewable technology, crops, livestock, forest respiration and conservation, marine and low emission management

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Green Asset Finance

Lombard, as part of NatWest Group, is a specialist provider of asset finance across multiple business sectors and has been financing sustainability assets for many years. Its new Green Asset Finance proposition*** has no arrangement fee, and aims to increase choices available to UK businesses by supporting their investment in sustainability with a wider range of financing options.

Asset finance provides businesses with an efficient way to finance a wide range of business assets, including assets that customers use to make their businesses more sustainable and electric vehicles. Asset finance provides businesses with a way to spread the costs of an asset over the period they will use it.

Lombard Vehicle Solutions, our Contract Hire solution provided through ALD Automotive, also enables customers to flexibly lease new electric and hybrid vehicles with the additional services they need to meet their needs.

Paul Thwaite, CEO of Commercial Banking, NatWest Group said: “Climate change is one of the biggest global challenges we face today, and SMEs have a critical role to play in helping the UK realise its green ambition. The reality is that while SMEs want to help by reducing emissions, they face many barriers doing so such as limited access to information, funding and training.

“We’re working to remove these barriers with concrete actions – providing incentives, such as loans and asset financing that aim to support sustainability ambitions, and aim to benefit businesses whether they bank with NatWest or not.

“Today we’re announcing our ambition to stand by small businesses of the UK to help them reduce emissions and explore the opportunities that a move towards a green economy brings for us all. We cannot underestimate the power of small changes to make a big impact.”

Climate Hub – aiming to help SMEs go and grow greener

Information on how to apply for a green loan or green asset financing is available on the NatWest Climate Hub. The new Climate Hub features tips, insights and tools aiming to help all UK SMEs act now to tackle climate change, by reducing emissions and unlocking green growth opportunities.

The Climate Hub brings together resources, products and services that address some of the gaps identified in NatWest’s A Springboard to Sustainability report, as well as educating SMEs around the financial benefits of transitioning towards Net Zero.

Visitors to the Climate Hub will also have free access to:

  • Information on the pilot of our carbon tracker app, developed in partnership with Cogo, which is due to launch in February 2022 with up to 500 SMEs in the manufacturing and transport sectors. The app is designed specifically for SMEs to give an estimate of, and help them understand, their carbon footprint and provide suggestions as to how SMEs may be able to reduce it.
  • Details of the new green loan for SME businesses announced today, and green asset financing solutions to support SME customers in their transition journeys.
  • Information on NatWest’s six specialist Accelerators connecting SMEs with regional

By Gemma Lloyd

Source: Pro Landscaper Magazine

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Record Number of Young People are Looking to Start their Own Business

As confidence in the UK economy grows, a record number of the country’s young people are looking to start their own business a major new poll shows.

The Yonder poll of over 4,000 British adults shows one-in-three (32 percent) Gen Zs (18 – 24 year-olds) in the UK plan to set up a business in the future.

The result shows a marked increase from last year, when only two-in-ten (23 percent) of Gen Zs considered launching their own business.

The poll also shows millennials (aged 25 – 34) are most likely to set up a business in 2022, with 12 percent aiming to do so, while one-in-ten (11 percent) of Gen Zs intend to start a business this year.

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This budding entrepreneurialism follows news that the UK GDP grew by 0.9 percent in November 2021 – 0.7 percent larger than it was before March 2020 and the first lockdown.

Positivity around the UK economy is having the greatest impact on the UK youth demographic with 32 percent of Britons aged 18 – 24 and 27 percent of millennials wanting to start their own business.

This eclipses other age groups, where on average only 8 percent plan on becoming their own boss.

The poll also shows Gen Zs to be most positive about their future incomes, with 36 percent believing their pay is going to increase in 2022. This is compared to an average of 24 percent in other age demographics.

The poll, carried out on behalf of Mushroombiz, also found an equal number of men and women (7 percent) plan to start a business in 2022.

This differs from the same poll last year, which showed twice as many men as women planned to start a business in 2021.

Respondents also showed a 5 percent growth in confidence in the UK economy from last year, with 22 percent of Britons optimistic about the UK’s economic prospects over the next 12 months, compared to only 17 percent the year before.

The poll comes ahead of Mushroombiz’s annual conference on the future of UK businesses.

Business leaders believe the poll shows encouraging signs for the future, and while Covid-19 may have rocked the global economy, it has not deterred young people from wanting to pursue new ventures.

Source: Business News Wales

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Unsecured Business Loan – Case Study

The Client

A successful second-hand vehicle dealership who was seeking £100,000 of working capital to facilitate ongoing growth of his business. In particular, the client wanted to purchase higher value stock which would generate greater profit margins. The client had no business assets that could be used to secure against the loan and was a non-homeowner, so no personal assets to be used either – this therefore makes the loan being sought unsecured.

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The Solution

As the client had no substantial assets that could be lent against, it was very important to understand what the annual turnover for company was, as this would determine what the client could potentially borrow. The client’s business was successfully generating a good turnover and net profits which we growing year on year, which lenders like to see.

We were able to acquire the customer a very competitive unsecured business loan for the full requested loan amount of £100,000, purely based on the company’s turnover. This will allow the company to grow, purchase the necessary stock and ultimately make the business more profitable.

The whole deal took less than 7 days from initial enquiry to funds being released to the client, who was delighted with the terms secured for their business.

Key Points to consider

As a general rule, if the client has assets or is a homeowner, financial providers can often lend between 15% – 25% of the business turnover. However, in this case, since neither asset is available to use as security, the maximum unsecured loan available is normally 10% of the company’s turnover.

Please keep in mind that these are only broad guidelines. Each case is looked at individually and treated on its own merits.


For full details on the types of Business Loans available please visit our Business Loans page.

To know more and speak to one of our Business Finance Brokers for a FREE Quotation and Advice, call us now on 03303 112 646. You can also fill in this short online form to get started. Our team of Business Finance Brokers will get back to you straight away.