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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
  • Online articles
  • Useful links
  • Articles and books from the Library

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Featured article

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.

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Featured report

The Business Finance Guide
The business finance guide from ICAEW is an invaluable tool for entrepreneurs starting a business, or directors managing established or growing companies of all sizes. The guide provides a comprehensive overview of the financing options available to growing businesses.

Further reports to help SMEs are available from ICAEW with advice on topics ranging from running a successful business to the availability of credit for SMEs.


Briefings are four-page guides from Atom Content Marketing written for the busy practitioner, director and entrepreneur providing concise, practical advice on core business issues.

Apply for environmental grants, loans and awards


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

Business angels


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.

Create a prototype


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.

Finance your high-growth business


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.

Finance your start-up business


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.

Get help setting up and running a business


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.

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.

Planning your exit from your business


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.

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.

Venture capital


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.

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.

You will need to be logged-in to the website to gain full access to the range of articles available online.

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.

Inside job

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.

Useful links


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.

UK government

British Business Bank
A new investment programme, created in 2013 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
List of publicly-backed finance or business support schemes. 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.

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.

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.

Responsible Finance
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.

Good Finance
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, surveys 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.

Sustaining momentum: The 2nd European alternative finance benchmarking report
A joint University of Cambridge and EY February 2016 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. 

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.

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.

Pushing boundaries: The 2015 UK alternative finance industry report
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.

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.
You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post, fax or email through our document supply service.

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