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Sources of finance for your business

Find out more about sources to raise finance for your business, establishing the funding that is best for your needs and how to secure investment finance, overdrafts and loans with our selection of guides, checklists, articles and books.

What's on this page?

  • Briefings
  • Checklists
  • Online articles
  • Small Business Update
  • Articles and books from the Library 
  • Useful links

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Featured article

Finance from your customers
A look at the financing of start-up businesses. Examples such as Airbnb and FlightRaja illustrate the trend for using negative working capital - taking advance payments from customers as a source of capital - to finance early business operations. 

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Featured research

ICAEW reports to help SMEs
Our web section highlighting the latest ICAEW research, guides and reports on the availability of credit for SMEs. Additionally there is advice on starting a business, running a successful business and growing your business. 


Directors' Briefings and Start-Up Briefings are four-page guides written for the busy practitioner, director and entrepreneur providing concise, practical advice on core business issues.

Financing equipment


Hiring or leasing equipment is one way of making your working capital go further. Instead of paying out up front, you can spread your payments over a set period, and benefit from the use of the equipment in the meantime.

Getting a grant for your business


Securing grant funding could really help your business develop and grow. But even experts can find it difficult to keep track of the hundreds of different grant schemes which keep appearing and then disappearing.



Even experts can find it difficult to keep track of the hundreds of different grant schemes which keep appearing — and then disappearing.

Overdrafts and bank loans


Overdrafts and loans are the most common form of external financing available to businesses. Used properly, they provide a simple and effective way of financing the growth of your business.

Subsidised and guaranteed loans


If you have a promising business but cannot provide the security needed for a conventional bank loan, the Government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme may be what you need.

Disclaimer: These publications from Atom Content Marketing are for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.


The How To Do It guides from Atom Content Marketing are a collection of checklists providing a step-by-step approach to key business issues. Access to these guides is available to logged-in ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

Apply for environmental grants loans and awards

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If you are considering making your business more environmentally responsible, the good news is that there is a variety of grants, loans and government-sponsored initiatives to help you. The support on offer can range from funding towards new energy-efficient equipment to free consultations providing practical business advice, and awards that you can use to boost your marketing efforts.

Finance your high growth business

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Having the right finance in place is essential if your business is to develop. Developing new products or approaching new markets can require significant investment before sales income starts to flow. Even then, as turnover increases, so does the amount of finance tied up in working capital. Without adequate financing, your growth potential will be constrained. At worst, the survival of your business could even be threatened.

Finance your start up business

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Establishing a solid financial base for your business should be one of the first tasks every start-up turns to. Whatever kind of business you’re setting up — from a one-person operation based at home, to a high-tech manufacturing plant — you need to be clear about how much money you’re going to need and where you’re going to get it.

Write your start up business plan

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Many people who start up businesses feel daunted by the prospect of having to write their first business plan. They shouldn’t. Although compiling a well thought-out business plan does require time and effort, it is a simple process — the results of which provide many benefits.

Disclaimer: These publications from Atom Content Marketing are for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

Online articles

The ICAEW Library & Information Service provides access to a range of articles in full text from leading business, finance and management journals. This resource is available to ICAEW members, ACA students and other entitled users.

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Small Business Update

Small Business Update is a monthly magazine for SMEs with articles covering the latest regulatory developments, practical advice and hot topics.

Collaboration staying on the right side of the law


Mergers, joint ventures and other forms of collaboration can be powerful elements of a business strategy, potentially transforming your business prospects and profitability. But you must make sure you comply with laws aimed at stopping anti-competitive activity.

Financing a business


If you want to secure venture capital for your business, preparation is key.

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Useful links


Alternative sources of finance: Making it big in business
A presentation on getting the appropriate finance for your business, given in January 2014 by Clive Lewis, Head of Enterprise at ICAEW. Covers many possible types of start-up and early stage finance.

The Business Finance Guide - a journey from start-up to growth
A major initiative for businesses and advisers, launched in June 2014 by the ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty and the British Business Bank. This unique guide outlines many sources of equity, debt and alternative finance. It also includes several tools and ideas to help businesses consider their options, make decisions and plan how they will finance expansion.

SME Finance Best Practice Guidelines
A November 2012 ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty and Department of Business Innovation and Science (BIS) guide to help SMEs make an informed choice on alternative sources of finance.

UK government

British Business Bank
A new investment programme, announced in 2013 by the government in the press release 'Investment programme to encourage lending to SMEs'. It has been set up as an economic development bank to create more effective and efficient finance markets for smaller businesses in the UK.

Business finance explained
General information on business finance from the UK Government.

Business finance and support finder
Interactive tool to search for publicly-backed finance or business support. With hundreds of schemes available, this is a good starting point to find out which ones you are eligible for and which suit your needs.

Making it easier to set up and grow a business
Information from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) on different routes to raise business finance, aimed at UK entrepreneurs and businesses. Has a section on Encouraging private sector investment which gives details of funds available to small and medium sized business from sources other than banks.

Start-up loans
A government funded scheme to provide loans and mentors for entrepreneurs. As well as start-up finance the scheme offers coaching to applicants to prepare for the pitch for the loan, help prepare a business plan and mentoring for a period after the loan has been received.

Other sources of finance

Better business finance
A host of impartial information and support for UK business customers looking to raise finance.

Business finance for you
Website developed by the British Bankers' Association and Better Business Finance banks with help from a number of business organisations and finance providers, which brings into one place a wide range of finance providers across Britain. Businesses can search for suitable providers by location, the industry they operate in, the amount of finance they require and the life stage of their business.

The Finance section of the ByteStart website has a range of articles outlining the different types of funding businesses can call on, such as, bank loans, business angels and crowdfunding.

Community Development Finance Association (CDFA)
The trade association for community development finance institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs provide loans and support to individuals and businesses who find it difficult to access finance from the commercial banks.

Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)
The European Commission's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) has several schemes and a budget of over €1bn to facilitate access to loans and equity finance for SMEs where market gaps have been identified.

Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) programme
This new EU programme is dedicated to improving access to finance for SMEs. It will run from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3bn. EC Vice-President Antonio Tajani has explained how the scheme will work in a interview for Enterprise & Industry Magazine: COSME to spur access to credit for small enterprises.

Enterprise Europe Network
The Enterprise Europe Network helps small businesses develop into new markets, source or license new technologies and access EU finance and funding.

European Investment Fund
Striving to respond to the particular needs of specific regions in Europe, the EIF is involved in a number of initiatives to promote regional business development and to use its expertise and experience to create market impact through local implementation of financial instruments.

Social Impact Accelerator Loan Scheme (SIA)
This FSE Group loan fund can provide unsecured flexibly-structured loan finance of between £250,000 and £1,000,000 to regulated social sector organisations such as charities and community interest companies.

Social Investment Guide
A guide developed by Social Enterprise UK & the Big Lottery Fund, aimed at voluntary and community organisation or social enterprises (VCSEs) interested in obtaining finance from social investors.

Reports and guides

The flow of credit in the UK economy and the availability of financing to the corporate sector
This European Commission paper analyses the flow of credit in the UK economy in the years before and after the 2008 financial and economic crisis, with particular emphasis on the corporate sector and the SME segment. It also reviews the main initiatives taken by the UK authorities to improve access to finance.

The rise of future finance
This December 2013 report from innovation charity NESTA presents the results from the first ever survey of UK alternative finance intermediaries. Activities covered include crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and invoice trading.

Seeds of change: Emerging sources of non-bank funding for Britain's SMEs
Report written by Andy Davis and published by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation in 2012 which looks at alternative sources of business finance for SMEs in the UK.

SME access to external finance
A January 2012 Department for Business, Innovation & Skills discussion paper; it examines small and medium-sized businesses' demand for and supply of external finance and assesses the issues they face in seeking external finance. The paper provides data on the availability of different types of finance and a summary of the effectiveness of Government schemes for increasing finance to SMEs.

Why use asset finance?
Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) guide to asset finance. The FLA is a UK trade body for the asset, consumer and motor finance sectors.


Baker Tilly's Your business outlook 2014
Baker Tilly surveyed 750 UK SMEs in summer 2013 on their growth prospects and how they are planning to fund growth. See section 5, 'How will growth be funded?', for information on their preferred funding sources.

2013 SMEs' access to finance survey
A European Commission analytical report on the results of a survey investigating access to finance for SMEs in the European Union, conducted across 37 EU countries during August-October 2013.

SME Finance Monitor
Quarterly updates on UK SMEs and their access to finance, published by market research consultancy firm BDRC Continental. 5,000 businesses are surveyed every quarter about their past borrowing events and future borrowing intentions, the largest such survey in the UK.

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