If you are considering making your business more environmentally responsible, a variety of grants, loans and government-sponsored initiatives can 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 of £25,000 to £750,000 can be surprisingly difficult to obtain. Banks generally require security and many venture capital firms are not interested in financing these amounts. A business angel might be the solution for your business.
A prototype is a representation of a product idea, whether it is a simple model you put together yourself, a 3D print out or a highly refined version produced by a prototyping firm. Several prototypes are likely to be built, assessed and tested before a product comes to market.
Whether you need to invest in developing new products and approaching new markets, or fund increasing levels of working capital as sales increase, the right financing lets you make the most of your growth potential.
Establishing a solid financial base for your new business is essential. You need to be clear about how much money you are going to need and where to find it.
There is a huge range of help available to help you deal with the challenges of starting your own business and make the most of your opportunities. Making sure you have the right skills, finance and practical support reduces the financial stress and the pressure of having to make all the decisions yourself.
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.
Building your business may represent a lifetime of hard work. To get the full rewards, you need the right exit - both financially and as a manager.
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.
If you require additional finance but are unable or unwilling to increase your borrowings, venture capital (also known as private equity) may be the answer. Venture capital firms provide financing in return for a proportion of your shares.
Crystal ball gazing
Richard Pepler looks at the rise of the alternative funding finance market and makes some predictions on what the future holds for this fast growing sector.
Business lending on the rise
With lending conditions improving and an increasing appetite for alternative finance, growth prospects for UK businesses look healthy. Malcolm Small assesses the findings of a recent survey on SME funding.
Funding for growth: the alternatives
How have the sources of finance available to UK companies changed over the last five years? Seven business leaders discuss the multitude of options available, including asset-based lending, government investment schemes and venture capital.
Fast-track your business
How startup accelerators - fixed-length programs in which entrepreneurs receive mentorship and seed capital in exchange for a small percentage of equity - can help start-up companies get going. Includes tips for accelerator success.
Lessons from the trenches: make customers investors in growth
Entrepreneur Kedar Gupta tells the story of how he found initial finance for his three startup companies by asking potential customers for funding, either as an advance against purchases or as development collaborators.
Major companies are aiming to develop the next big thing for their industries through the creation of in-house investment programs that nurture startups with an adventurous, innovative spirit.
Use customer cash to finance your start-up
A look at the trend for using negative working capital - taking advance payments from customers as a source of capital - to finance start-up companies.
Revenue-based financing: the better you do, the quicker you pay
Startups and small businesses, including tech companies, are resorting to revenue-based finance, whereby future performance determines how they pay the loans back.
Eyes on the money
From crowdsourced funding to asset-backed loans, Trevor Clawson looks at alternative lending options and asks whether they're here for the long run or simply plugging the gap.
Creative Industries - Routes to Finance
A funding guide for creative organisations from ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty, supported by the Creative Industries Federation and 52 organisations in the UK’s creative economy. It is the first comprehensive and bespoke guide to finance for Britain’s creative industries.
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.
Fit for lending
A 2015 series of articles by ICAEW's Economia magazine, investigating how businesses get themselves fit for attracting lending. Funding is available for growth if you know where to look, how to apply and understand what will be beneficial for your business.
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.
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.
Business Finance Partnership
Details of government funds available to small and medium sized businesses from sources other than banks through the Business Finance Partnership (BFP) scheme. This money is being matched with at least an equal amount from private sector investors and will be invested on fully commercial terms.
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.
Small business matchmaking
Under a new programme, nine of the UK’s biggest banks will pass on the details of small businesses they have rejected for finance to three finance platforms. These platforms will then share these details with alternative finance providers and go on to facilitate a conversation between the business and any provider who expresses an interest in supplying finance to them.
Other sources of finance
Better business finance
A host of impartial information and support for UK businesses looking to raise finance. The Better Business Finance (BBF) website was developed by the British Bankers' Association with help from a number of business organisations and finance providers, bringing 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.
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.
A new website aimed at charities and social enterprises. It provides information and advice on locating socially responsible sources of finance.
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.
Reports and guides
Alternative finance guide for SMEs
A guide produced by lending product providers Merchant Money, providing links to resources to help SMEs understand the various forms of alternative finance.
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.
Moving mainstream: The European alternative finance benchmarking report
A joint University of Cambridge and EY February 2015 report into the growth of alternative finance across Europe. The report's findings suggest that new forms of alternative finance such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer financing are growing quickly and on the cusp of becoming mainstream in some European countries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Understanding alternative finance: The UK alternative finance industry report 2014
This large scale study by innovation charity Nesta examines the growth, trends and dynamics within the UK alternative finance sector, including crowdfunding and P2P lending. Nesta's December 2013 report The rise of future finance was the first ever survey of UK alternative finance intermediaries.