If you’re looking to get your business idea off the ground or want to expand your start-up to achieve more, you may be considering taking out a business loan to finance your start-up plans.
With the appropriate funding opens in new window and financial support, your start-up could invest in new technologies, markets, and employees.
In 2021 38% of start-ups failed opens in new window in the UK because they didn’t have adequate funding.
This can happen for several reasons, from running out of personal funds to put into the business to failing to raise investor interest and capital.
Business loan opens in new window applications can seem complex and confusing, especially if it’s the first time you’re navigating them.
We’ve broken it down below into the key steps and helpful tips that may help boost your chance of a successful application.
Starting a business doesn’t come with a set of instructions.
We know that understanding the many different types of financial product in the marketplace can be difficult.
Our Making business finance work for you guide is designed to help you make an informed choice about accessing the right type of finance for you and your business.
How to apply for a start-up business loan
1. Identify why you need a loan
Be prepared to explain why you need a business loan and how the money will be used.
Do you need the money to get your idea off the ground?
To expand your team and hire new talent?
To ensure you have enough cash for day-to-day operations?
Be as detailed as possible when calculating your costs.
This will give you a better picture of your business’s financial health and the impact of any loan and help you later in the application process.
2. Research loan providers
Choose a suitable business loan provider.
Options may include high street banks, specialist lenders, independent investors, or organisations such as Start Up Loans opens in new window.
Research the loan terms and conditions, which may differ depending on the provider.
These terms and conditions can consist of interest rates, loan security, and repayment schedules.
All can affect how much interest you’ll pay, and what assets might be at risk if you can’t repay the loan.
It’s always best to seek independent financial advice before signing up for a loan.
3. Pull together everything you will need beforehand
Gather all the information and documents you will need for your application before starting.
While lenders may have different requirements, you’re likely to need the following:
- your business plan opens in new window – a breakdown of how much you’re asking for, why you need it, and how you will use the loan are key to convincing loan providers to accept your application. Use our free business plan template opens in new window to help you get started.
- personal details – this includes proof of ID (such as a passport or driving license) and proof of address (such as a recent utility bill or personal bank statement). Loan providers need this information to avoid fraud and money laundering schemes.
- financial forecast and balance sheet opens in new window – this is required so loan providers can see the bigger picture, and won’t base their judgement on a single period of trading. A financial forecast shows you’ve calculated cash flow opens in new window and your ability to repay the loan. In contrast, a balance sheet opens in new window will show your assets, any money your business owes or is owed, and other liabilities.
- business bank statements – used to verify the income and spending related to your business.
4. Applying for your loan
While application processes vary, most share similarities.
Many lenders need applicants to meet specific criteria – so check before applying.
After you’ve applied, the lender will typically run an eligibility check and credit score check opens in new window.
Some loan providers may request an interview with applicants depending on the business type, the amount of money being applied for, or the loan type.
5. The outcome
A start-up business loan application can take a few weeks to be reviewed.
If approved, a formal loan offer will be made.
Before you accept, be sure to remind yourself of the loan’s terms and conditions, and the repayment schedule.
If your loan application is rejected, you can ask why.
You may be able to use this information to improve future loan applications.
Remember that just because one loan provider said no, that does not mean you can’t apply for your business loan elsewhere.
Tips for securing a start-up business loan
- Pay close attention to detail during the application process – a single misspelt word or wrong number could jeopardise your application. Double-check your application before you send it off, or have a trusted friend read over it with fresh eyes.
- Keep an eye on your credit history. To secure a loan, banks may need proof that you’ve borrowed money in the past and paid it back on time. Doing this can give you a good credit score and history, making your application more likely to be accepted. You can check your credit score with companies like ClearScore opens in new window.
- To improve your chances of securing a loan and to make the process less complicated, only apply for one loan at a time. Use a loan calculator to calculate how much you could receive and the interest rate to make an informed decision.
- Check if you’re eligible for a grant opens in new window. The Government has a number of schemes and grants for start-ups and small businesses, and not having to pay back borrowed money will be one more thing crossed off your list.
Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with The Open University on sustainability in the workplace.
Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:
- Effective communication in the workplace opens in new window
- Managing relationships opens in new window
- Succeed in the workplace opens in new window
- Leadership and followership opens in new window
Plus free courses on climate and sustainability, teamwork, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellbeing.
Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.