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Alternative financing

Other ways to fund your business

A practical guide to alternative forms of business financing, such as grants, business angels, crowd funding and venture capital.

Alternative financing options

Whether you’re starting up your business or taking it to the next stage, you’ll probably need funding.  Not every business is right for bank borrowing – but we still want to help ensure that your business succeeds. So we’ve put together this handy guide to some of the most common types of alternative business finance. 

  • If we decline an application you ‘ve made for finance, we’ll ask if you’d like to be referred to an online finance platform that may be able to help. If you consent to this, we’ll pass your details to the platforms listed below – they’ll contact you soon after.

    Funding Options

    Funding Xchange

    Alternative Business Funding 

    You can read more about the government’s bank lending referrals to finance platforms scheme, which includes eligibility details.

  • These are wealthy individuals who invest their own money either on their own or with others as a syndicate. In return for funding they take a stake in your business, so you may not have to make any regular repayments as you would with a loan.

    In many cases, business angels also provide valuable skills and experience along with their investment. Working with them can be like taking on a partner, so you need to be sure you’re comfortable working with the individual angel before making a commitment. To find out more, visit the UK Business Angels Association

  • Companies with high growth potential requiring larger investments often seek venture capital funding. Unlike business angel funding which involves individual investors, venture capital usually involves companies that specialise in this kind of investment.

    Visit the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association website to find out more about venture capital funds. To identify venture capital funds that focus on your type of business, speak to reputable accountants and solicitors.

  • Crowd funding is an old idea brought up to date by the internet. It allows many people to each give a small amount to support a project that interests them.

    To raise money by crowd funding, you need to have an idea that appeals to a large number of people. This could be a conventional business or an entirely new idea, but it can be especially effective if there is a community benefit involved. If you do have the right idea, it can be easy to arrange.

    You need to visit a crowd funding website and make a presentation. There are no guarantees, but if your business proposition finds enough supporters, you can receive the money you need very quickly.

  • Grants are usually one-off payments made by the government, European Union, local authority, business support organisations and charities such as the Prince's Trust. These organisations offer a number of different forms of support, including financial assistance and advice services. For more information visit the government’s finance support finder.

  • CDFIs are independent not-for-profit institutions that work alongside banks to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. CDFIs will usually only lend to customers who’ve been declined for finance by a mainstream lender.

    CDFIs provide loans and support to

    • Micro enterprises with up to 9 employees
    • Small businesses with 11 to 49 employees
    • Medium businesses with 50 to 249 employees
    • Social enterprises, community organisations or charities
    • Individuals

    For more information visit the Community Development Finance Association website.

  • If you've formed a limited company, you could raise money by selling shares. This is a very common approach for financing or raising money for a company, but will mean losing a portion of any profits the company makes in the future.

    Many businesses are able to fund their initial startup with no formal borrowing. You may find your own savings are enough. You may also be able to call on friends and family to back you, in which case it’s still best to put things in writing to avoid misunderstandings.

    Finally, you may want to consider non-financial support to offset some of your initial expenses. This could include reaching out to friends or acquaintances for the use of premises, equipment or storage that you could use temporarily. Free resources can be as valuable as funding, especially in the early stages of setting up a business.

Helpful tools

We’ve got tools that can help you forecast cashflow and generate a business plan. And don’t forget that your Barclays Business Manager is on hand to help with any questions you have around your finance options.

Business insights

Information and advice to help your business going forward

We’ve put together a wide range of knowledge and insight for you – read up on plans, financial support, media and marketing and much more.