What defines a start-up business?
This definition may vary, so it is important to clarify with your prospective lender whether you fit their definition of a start-up. Typically, a start up is a new company founded by entrepreneurs who want to bring a new and disruptive offering to the market. Given the high percentage of start ups that don’t make it past the first year, such ventures are associated with a certain level of risk, meaning it can be difficult to secure financial backing. As a result, many start-ups are running on a skeleton budget until they begin to generate revenue.
Working in a start up business can offer an exciting and fast-paced environment, often bringing together a group of people who are passionate about the idea. Some of the world’s most successful start-ups are not global organisations such as Microsoft, Facebook and Airbnb.
What funding options are available for start-ups?
Start-ups can access a wide range of financing solutions, from traditional and structured offerings to more alternative funding sources. Start-up businesses may struggle to get approval from mainstream lenders, especially if their business concept is a new and unproven model. However, there are still traditional business loan options available, often in the form of an operating lease or chattel mortgage. Such loans are generally secured using collateral like your home, vehicle, or savings.
If you do not want to put this collateral at risk, you may opt for a form of alternative funding. Non-bank lenders, private investors, crowdfunding and loans from family and friends are all great options. Non-bank lenders offer tailored funding solutions under more flexible terms and are a great fit for new businesses. If you are happy to consider exchanging a financial investment for equity in your start up, private investors and family loans can be a great option, especially if you are looking to launch an unconventional concept.
How much money do I need for my start-up?
This is something that business owners should figure out before approaching any funding providers. Lenders of all kinds will want to see proof of how much money your venture needs, rather than what you would ideally want. You should take the time to work out how much you need for tangible items such as equipment and fit-out, and how much is required for soft costs such as legal fees, marketing, staffing and rent. Depending on what funding option you choose you may not be able to access funds for soft costs, so it is important to have a clear breakdown of these expenses.
What are lenders looking for in a start-up loan application?
Typically, lenders are guided by ‘The 5 C’s of Credit’. These principles help funding providers evaluate the borrower and business viability, ensuring that responsible lending guidelines are followed. The 5 C’s are: Character, Capacity, Capital, Collateral and Conditions.
These guidelines build a holistic picture of the venture risk by looking at the character and reputation of the borrower, the businesses financial capacity to repay the loan based upon income, expenses and existing debt, how liquid the borrowers financial position is, what collateral is available to secure the loan, and the conditions of the finance term including interest rate and fees.
Whilst lenders each have their own unique application process, there is some standard information that will likely be required. Collating documents including ID, a business plan, asset and liability statement and financial projections can all make the process run smoothly.
Why might my start-up application be declined?
There are a range of reasons that potential lenders may decline your application for a start-up loan. These reasons likely relate to The 5 C’s of credit identified above, such as your perceived ability to repay the loan, the outlook of your cash flow forecast, and your ability to secure the loan.
However, some lenders only operate within specific markets, may seek to mitigate risk by not funding certain business models, or have a cap on funding limits for particular sectors. Based upon the information supplied in your business plan, a funding provider may opt not to approve your loan or invest in your start-up. This can be unrelated to the quality of your application and may be at the discretion of the lender and their own business decisions, if this is the case they will likely indicate this as the reason for decline.