Frequently asked questions

The Application Process

I do not have a business idea yet. Can I still apply for a Start Up Loan?

Unfortunately, the Start Up Loans scheme is designed to support people in starting up or growing their business, so although you don’t need to be trading in order to qualify for a loan, you will need to have a business idea in order to make your application.

As part of the application process, you will need to submit a business plan and cash flow forecast. Don’t worry if you haven’t completed these yet – once you have registered your details and been assigned to one of our Delivery Partners for support, a business adviser can provide you guidance on completing these documents. We also offer a range of useful guides that you might find helpful as you’re getting started.

We recommend you apply at the point at which the finance will help you to launch your business and when you have the time to invest in creating your business documents. If you are only interested in an advisory support service at this point, we recommend you use the Government’s business support tool or contact the Business Support Helpline on 0300 456 3565. Either of these may be able to direct you to another suitable service.

I have a business idea or my business is already trading. Can I apply for a Start Up Loan?

Yes, the Start Up Loans scheme can support individuals who are starting new businesses or those with existing businesses, provided they have not been trading for more than two years.

As part of the application process you will need to submit a business plan and cash flow forecast. Don’t worry if you haven’t completed these yet – once you have registered your details and been assigned to one of our Delivery Partners for support, a business adviser can provide you guidance on completing these documents. We also offer a range of useful guides that you might find helpful as you’re getting started.

We recommend you apply at the point at which the finance will help you to launch your business and when you have the time to invest in creating your business documents.

If you are only interested in an advisory support service at this point, we recommend you use the Government’s business support tool or contact the Business Support Helpline on 0300 456 3565. Either of these may be able to direct you to another suitable service.

Will I be charged for my application?

No, you will never be charged by us or our Delivery Partners to make an application for a Start Up Loan. You will also not incur fees or charges for the support provided during and after the application process. The only amount you will ever have to pay is your monthly loan repayments if your application is successful. If you are approached about making any form of payment to the Start Up Loans Company that is not your agreed monthly loan repayments, please contact us as soon as possible.

How long does the application process take?

As no two businesses are the same, we cannot give an average time period for how long your application will take. Customers who are highly prepared can take as little as two to three weeks, while other customers require more support to complete the necessary documents and can take two to three months and longer. We try and put you in control of the process as much as possible, so the more prepared you are, the faster your application will progress.

If you have a final or draft version of your business plan and cash flow forecast completed at the time of lodging your application, it will be easier for your Delivery Partner to get a sense of how much support you require in order to progress. Please note, our Customer Service team and our Delivery Partners endeavour to respond to all customer enquiries within two working days.

What factors do you consider when you assess applications?

There are three main areas that your Business Adviser will consider when they’re reviewing your Start Up Loan application: your credit worthiness, whether or not you can afford to take on the loan and whether your business is viable.

Credit worthiness: As part of your application, you will be required to have a credit check that reviews your past and current financial behaviour. While a poor credit history will not prevent you from securing a Start Up Loan in all instances, this part of the application process is part of our commitment to responsible lending and helps us ensure our applicants don’t overburden themselves.

Personal affordability: As Start Up Loans are personal loans used for business purposes, you will be liable for repaying your loan even if your business plans change in the future. While Start Up Loans are non-secured (you do not have to put forward any collateral to guarantee the loan) you will need to fully repay the loan and any interest due over the course of your agreed loan term. The Personal Survival Budget that you must submit with your application, which outlines your key sources of personal income and any expenses you incur each month, supports us in making this assessment.

Business viability: A key factor in our lending decision is ensuring that your business is going to generate enough money to help you meet your monthly loan repayments. To help us assess this, you therefore need to demonstrate that there is sufficient demand for your product(s) and/or service(s) and that you will be able to reasonably achieve all of the goals set out in your Business Plan and Cash Flow Forecast. Don’t worry if you have never created these documents before! Check out our free templates and guides and remember that your Business Adviser will be able to provide support throughout this part of the process.

Is there any support available during the application process?

Yes, our Delivery Partners are on hand to support you through the application process. They can give you advice on completing the application forms and what information you’ll need to include. They can also help you create your business plan, cash flow forecast and personal survival budget, whether you need help creating these from scratch or just want someone to review and sense check them.

Because your Delivery Partner will also be assessing your loan application to determine whether or not you qualify for a Start Up Loan, their support will focus on putting you in the best possible position to succeed. It is important to remember that ultimately you are responsible for your application and even though a Delivery Partner will do their best to support you, this does not guarantee you will qualify for the loan.

For further information, see our business support and mentoring FAQs.

Who will review my application and decide if I can have a Start Up Loan?

Your Delivery Partner will review your application and make the lending decision. We provide a set of criteria to every Delivery Partner to ensure a consistent approach is followed across our network, however Delivery Partners will ultimately base their decision on the individuals credit history, personal affordability and business plan viability.

Why might my application be declined?

There are a number of reasons why your application can be declined. As a responsible lender, there are two key criteria we use to determine whether or not we can lend to an applicant. The first relates to an individual’s affordability (will you be able to commit to the required loan repayments?) and the second relates to the viability of the applicant’s business plans and cash flow forecast (will you be able to reasonably achieve all of the goals you have set out in your plans and is there a sufficient market for your idea?).

Can I re-apply if my application is declined?

Unfortunately, if your application is declined then you will need to wait at least six months before you can apply again. This period is designed to give you time to review and improve upon any areas of your application that prevented you from securing a Start Up Loan previously.

If you decide to apply again, you will need to return to the original Delivery Partner that reviewed your first application. They will reassess your application. The reason we ask you to work with the same Delivery Partner is because they already have a detailed knowledge of your business and personal situation.

As part of this reassessment, you will need to be able to demonstrate to your Delivery Partner that your circumstances have changed or that you have addressed the concerns that were raised in your initial decline letter. You may also be required to submit updated personal and business documents and undergo any checks required by the scheme.

Do I need a business bank account to receive this loan?

No you don’t and even if you have a business bank account, you cannot receive your Start Up Loan via this account. Because a Start Up Loan is a personal loan, you will need to provide your personal bank account details to receive your Start Up Loan if your application is successful.

I have applied for a Start Up Loan but have not heard anything?

If you have not been contacted within three working days, please contact our Customer Service team, providing your contact details so we can support you in moving forward.

Can I stop the process at any time before receiving the loan?

Yes, you can withdraw your application at any point prior to receiving the loan. Once you have received the loan, there is a cooling off period of 14 days from the date of signing your Loan Agreement. If you decide you no longer want your loan during the cooling off period you can return the funds and you won’t be liable for any of the interest you have accrued. Refer to your Loan Agreement to confirm the details of your cooling off period. Please note that once your cooling off period has expired, you will be obligated to repay the full amount of the loan, including all interest.

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