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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
  • 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 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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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.

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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.

Raising finance to start your business


Raising enough money to start a business can be difficult. The process begins with working out your start-up and operating costs for the year, which you can compare against anticipated sales. Even with a reasonably healthy turnover, your business might have to operate at a loss for a while, which means your borrowing requirements will be greater.

Employee-shareholder contract


New legislation has come into force that allows UK employers to offer employees a new form of employment status. 'Employee shareholders' are given shares in the business in exchange for giving up some of their employment rights. So is this new employment status right for you and your employees?

Employing family members


Employing your family members within the business can create tensions. If you can predict and cater for them and encourage family and workplace harmony, the commercial and personal benefits can be immense

Crowd funding


Access to bank credit remains restricted for most start-ups and small firms. With conditions unlikely to improve in the short term, where else can you turn? Crowd funding is one solution, but is it a viable option for small firms?

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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.

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, 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.

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 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. EC Vice-President Antonio Tajani explained how the scheme will work in a 2013 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.

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 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.


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.

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.

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