Not your average small business

We think small businesses are pretty special. From butchers to bakers, IT consultants to accountants, small business owners and their employees across the UK are doing extraordinary things on a daily basis.

Finch House
To open a new cafe and bakery, Finch House borrowed £125,000 back in 2015.

Small companies make big business

Small businesses aren’t actually that small. When it comes to driving the UK economy forward they pack a pretty impressive punch. Small businesses in the UK, usually defined as any business with less than 250 employees, make up half of our GDP and 60% of private sector employment. You can find more small business facts in our Small business, Big impact infographic.

Tri dosha
To create a new product range of skincare products, Tri-Dosha borrowed £21,060 from 152 investors.

Under the umbrella term small business is an incredible array of exceptional people and industries. You can meet borrowers from a range of sectors in our industry insights series, including retail, hospitality and manufacturing. As you’ll see, the average Funding Circle borrower is usually someone quite remarkable.

While we love telling individual stories, in this post we’re taking a step back and looking at the numbers behind the businesses. Not including property specialists, here’s what the average of all our Funding Circle borrowers looks like….

The significance of the number 8

Our average borrower employs 8 people — enough to make a netball team and have a super sub. To apply for a loan, businesses need to have a minimum of 2 years trading history. However, the average Funding Circle borrower has been around for much longer — 8 years. This means our average business was established in 2009, the year Matt Smith was named as the new Doctor Who, Michael Jackson died, and Barbara Windsor retired from Eastenders. It also means many started life during the worst financial crisis for a generation, so our small business owners are clearly made of stern stuff!

Mill View Plant Centre
To expand and open a coffee shop, Mill View Plant Centre borrowed £100,000 in 2015.

 Helping businesses unlock their potential

There’s a variety of reasons businesses need finance. Whether it’s simply to get a cash boost or unlock their potential we’re on hand to help. Our simple application form can be filled out in just 10 minutes.

Over half of businesses take out a loan through Funding Circle to expand, including hiring staff or opening new premises, like Andy Walker from Teasdale Motorcycles. Being able to expand his business when the time was right helped Andy triple his turnover and grow the team by 10!

Teasdale
To expand and move premises, Teasdale Motorcycles borrowed £167,000

The second most popular reason for borrowing at 34% is working capital. This might be businesses buying stock for a busy season ahead or keeping up with increasing demand like Beech’s Fine Chocolates in Preston, who’ve been manufacturing high quality gourmet chocolates in Lancashire since 1920.

Beeches chocolates
To keep up with demand, Beech’s Fine Chocolates borrowed £250,000 in 2016.

As well as covering a wide range of industries, our borrowers are also based all over the country. 24% are in the South East, 14% in Midlands and 12% in North West.

So will 2018 be the best year for small businesses?

We’ve been championing small businesses since 2010, helping more than 20,000 UK businesses access over £2 billion in finance. Now we’re planning how we can help even more in the years to come. We’ve seen businesses are seizing new growth opportunities in 2017, however, with their affinity to the number 8, 2018 could be an even better year for our Funding Circle business community. Watch this space!

Grow your business with a Funding Circle loan today

We offer unsecured loans up to £350,000, with a personal guarantee, for a range of business purposes including expansion, refurbishment, cash flow and stock purchases.

Key loan features include:

  • Rates from 4.9%
  • Loans from 6 months to 5 years
  • ​Funds in as little as 1 week​
  • No early repayment fees​ — if you pay back early you pay back less

If you’re looking for business finance, check your eligibility online in just 30 seconds.

The data in this blog is correct as of February 2017

We’re celebrating £2 billion lent to UK businesses

It’s been six and a half years since Funding Circle was launched with a big idea, to revolutionise the way small businesses access finance. This week we’re proud to announce that we’re celebrating £2 billion in lending to small UK businesses.

£2 billion lent to UK businesses including Celia's

The numbers behind £2 billion

21,000 businesses have benefited from Funding Circle finance since 2010, and an estimated 40,000 jobs have been created as a result of this. Job creation makes a real difference to the economy, showing the direct impact Funding Circle investors are having on the UK. A total of £107.5 million* has also been earned in interest by 58,000 investors, after fees and bad debt.

What it really means

Reaching £2 billion is more than just a milestone. It means investors can get a good return on their money — whether they’re saving for retirement, a new house or for a rainy day.

And it means more business owners can go on to do extraordinary things; like Celia pictured above, who used her loan to open an award-winning cafe in Somerset. Find out what other extraordinary things our borrowers have achieved after accessing finance in this short video. 

 

If you’re interested in lending to companies like Celia’s, you can earn a current estimated return of 7%* per year^. Join the 58,000 people who are already lending.

If you’re looking for business finance, our fast, hassle-free loans can be with you in just one week. You can check your eligibility in 30 seconds. 

Your actual return may be higher or lower as your capital is at risk when lending to businesses.

*Correct as of 16 February 2017

^Correct as of 23 February 2017

£2 billion lent and your new marketplace round-up coming soon | Weekly Lending Review

Week 7: 13 – 17 February

You and other investors have lent a fantastic £2 billion to more than 20,000 British businesses. That’s thousands of jobs created, homes built, and energy driven into the UK economy. Thank you for your continued support.

Your new marketplace round-up

Following our recent survey, we’ll be publishing a new and improved marketplace round-up next month. Coming in March, the new fortnightly blog will still contain all the information you like to read, but will have a refreshed look and some new features. As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any further suggestions we’d love to hear them.

New loans available to you

Last week, the total value of new loans listed on the marketplace was £25,914,328, averaging at £71,704 per loan. The largest loan value was £490,000 and the smallest loan value was £5,150. There are also thousands of loan parts available for you to buy which will help you become diversified.

Business loans available to bid on:

 How to make the most of your investment

To help you earn a more stable return and make the most of your investment at Funding Circle, spread your lending across hundreds of businesses so you’re only lending a small amount to each one. Watch our 90 second video below to find out more about diversification at Funding Circle.

Weekly marketplace trends

These graphs show the most recent activity on the marketplace. The number of loans, value of loans and amount lent are reported weekly.

Number of listed loans per week

WLR 7-17 Loans listed

Listed loan value per week

WLR 7-17 Loan value

Total amount lent

WLR 7-17 amount lent

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

WLR 7-17 loan parts

Loans defaulted last week

Each week, we publish a list of the loans being defaulted on the Customer support section of our website under ‘Announcements.’ To see a breakdown of the loans defaulted last week simply click on loans defaulted 16th February 2017.  For further information on why Funding Circle defaults loans you can read our FAQ here.

Our collection and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts and will provide updates in the loan comments section on your summary page. You can also read more about how our collections and recoveries process works (part one and part two) on our blog.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

We’re on hand to help | Weekly Lending Review

Week 6: 6 – 10 February

If you have any questions about your account our dedicated team are here to help. Whether you normally speak to Sophie, Fran, Hannah or Daisy, meet your Investor Support team and find out what they get up to each day.

New loans available to you

Last week, the total value of new loans listed on the marketplace was £25,788,400, averaging at £65,452 per loan. The largest loan value was £494,540 and the smallest loan value was £5,150. There are also thousands of loan parts available for you to buy which will help you become diversified.

Business loans available to bid on:

Gross interest rates are before fees and bad debts. Your actual return may be higher or lower as by lending to businesses, your capital is at risk.

How to make the most of your investment

To help you earn a more stable return and make the most of your investment at Funding Circle, spread your lending across hundreds of businesses so you’re only lending a small amount to each one. Watch our 90 second video below to find out more about diversification at Funding Circle.


 

Weekly marketplace trends

These graphs show the most recent activity on the marketplace. The number of loans, value of loans and amount lent are reported weekly.

Number of listed loans per week

 WLR 6 loans listed

Listed loan value per week

 WLR 6 loan value

Total amount lent

 WLR 6 amount lent

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

WLR 6 loan parts

News you should know

In last month’s industry news, read how financial technology took centre stage at the recent G20 conference, with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney describing how “Consumers will get more choice, better-targeted services and keener pricing.”

Loans defaulted last week

Each week, we publish a list of the loans being defaulted on the Customer support section of our website under ‘Announcements.’ To see a breakdown of the loans defaulted last week simply click on loans defaulted 9th February 2017.  For further information on why Funding Circle defaults loans you can read our FAQ here.

Our collection and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts and will provide updates in the loan comments section on your summary page. You can also read more about how our collections and recoveries process works (part one and part two) on our blog.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

Business apps we love for small business owners

Business apps

Whether they’re saving you time, increasing your productivity, or making you more secure, installing amazing new business apps is the workplace equivalent of opening presents on Christmas day. Those “How did we manage before?” moments give everyone a lift, and mark another step forward in the evolution of your business.

There are lots of fantastic business apps around that could help. Here are a few that we think could make a big difference to small businesses everywhere.

LastPass – keep all your passwords in one place

We use more online programs and services than ever before. They make our lives easier, simplify business processes, and improve productivity. Until you forget your password — then you’re stuck.

If you’re tired of resetting forgotten passwords then LastPass is an essential. It stores all your passwords in one place, so you only have to remember one. LastPass will log you straight into sites in just one click, and let you share passwords simply and securely across teams.

It will even add to your online security by creating complex passwords for you, so you don’t have ‘childsfirstname86’ as the password on all your accounts.

Slack – the messaging app to save you from your inbox

Ever had days where all you do is look through, read and send emails? If your inbox is an exasperating drain on your time, then Slack could be the answer to your prayers.

Slack is an internal messaging app that lets teams, departments and whole businesses speak to each other easily. As well as direct messages, you can set up channels for specific topics (industry news, customer feedback) to keep everyone informed. Then if you start a new project, you can create a channel for the people involved.

The big difference is being able to easily navigate to the conversation you want, rather than digging through old emails. You can also share files and images, and set up channels with suppliers or partners if they have it too. There’s a whole host of useful plugins as well — for example you can set up a report to pull in performance data every week so it’s shared with your team automatically.

Intuit Quickbooks – simple, straightforward accounting

Managing your financial accounts and keeping your books up to date is vital for making informed business decisions. If you struggle to keep track there are lots of different tools around to help, but even if you have a dedicated accounts team, Intuit Quickbooks could make the whole process easier and more efficient.

Quickbooks gives you a real-time view of your financial accounts so you can make up to the minute decisions. It simplifies expenses and invoice tracking, helps you calculate tax and can be used to run your payroll. Bringing together essential features at reasonable costs, this easy to use business app will save you heaps of time, and probably a few headaches too.

Wunderlist – organise your life

Are you a list maker? Do you get kicks from crossing out completed tasks? Or do you just keep everything upstairs and back yourself to remember? Either way, Wunderlist could help you.

Wunderlist helps you track all your tasks on its straightforward interface. It has features you would expect like setting reminders and making notes, but also lets you share items with friends or co-workers and allows them comment, so you can see any feedback right there in your workflow. And it syncs across all your devices so you never miss a task again.

For more tips on managing your time more effectively, read our Take 10 blog.

Salesforce – the easy way to manage your sales leads

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems can be complex and confusing for everyone except the guy who installed it. However, tracking all your customer prospects, leads, and existing customers is crucial to keep those sales coming in. Salesforce is the king of CRM and sales pipeline tools, and although it’s seen by many as an enterprise level solution, it has a range of plans to suit different budgets and needs.

The basic package comes with the lead tracking essentials. You can then upgrade for extra data capabilities and campaign management, or go for the premium package for deep integration and customisation.

It’s functionality makes it the leading CRM tool for small businesses globally, and it has the options you’ll need as your business grows.

If you’re looking for a loan to help grow or better manage your business, you can check if you qualify for a Funding Circle loan in just 30 seconds.

Meet the Investor Support team

At Funding Circle we are committed to providing you with the best possible lending experience. We have some exciting improvements planned for 2017, including the opportunity for you to earn tax-free returns with the launch of the Funding Circle ISA, subject to us receiving full authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

If you ever have a question about Funding Circle or are looking for help with your account, our Investor Support team are on hand to help. We recently sat down with the team to share with you a bit more about who they are and what they get up to each day.

Brief overview of the Investor Support team:

We have nine members in our Investor Support team. Clare manages the team and has been with Funding Circle since 2012, while Sophie joined in 2015 and is the team supervisor. Fran, Georgia, Georgie, Daisy, Hannah, Lottie and Rachel make up the rest of the team.

Hi everyone, can you tell us about your role and what you do to help investors?

Clare: “We are the point of contact for new and existing investors, and act as their voice within the business. Day-to-day we speak to investors over the phone and via email ‒ dealing with a wide range of queries from account access issues, through to detailed analysis of an investor’s account performance.”

What’s your favourite part of working at Funding Circle?

Sophie: “Having the opportunity to improve investors’ experience by using their feedback to make product improvements.”

Daisy: “I love the culture here!”

Hannah: “Working for an exciting, innovative company with big ambitions for the future.  There is a real desire to challenge ourselves to constantly improve and do more.”

Lottie: “Working at a company that is reshaping a notoriously traditional industry.”

What is it about the role that you enjoy?

Georgie: “Being able to speak to someone new everyday.”

Georgia: “Helping investors to understand how Funding Circle works, and reassure them when they have concerns. It is a great feeling knowing you have made a positive impact on somebody’s day, and I enjoy speaking with a wide range of different people.”

Hannah: “The role is incredibly varied and unpredictable as we have to react to the issues and queries investors may have.”

Rachel: “Getting to know what investors want and how we can better improve the platform.”

Sophie: “Never having the same day twice, you never know what’s around the corner. Also the vast variety of personalities we get to speak and write to!”

Have there been any particular customer experiences that have stood-out for you?

Georgia: “Receiving a handwritten letter from an investor, thanking us for our help guiding him through a process he found particularly difficult. It was a lovely surprise that they had taken the time to get in touch with us to say thank you”

Lottie: “Meeting an investor and a borrower together, on one of our case studies.”

(You can see all our case studies on our blog.)

Sophie: “Building rapport with investors who get in touch with us regularly, and hearing about how they enjoy lending through Funding Circle.”

What would you say is the toughest part of the job?

Georgie: “Telling someone you can’t do something for them straight away, for example when it might take a few days to get an answer. I find that tough.”

Georgia: “Managing investors’ expectations, for example if we experience a technical issue or there’s something they would like improving.”

Sophie: “It’s hard to tell an investor something you know they might not like to hear.”

Rachel: “I agree. For example, we get a lot of questions from investors asking when we’ll be launching the Funding Circle ISA. We’re excited for it too, but until we’ve received full authorisation from the FCA we can’t provide a timeframe. Hopefully we’ll be able to answer it soon!”

What do you enjoy outside of Funding Circle?

Georgia: “I like running and baking, which is probably a good combination so I can run off all the cake!”

Daisy: “I like to visit museums.”

Hannah: “In my spare time I enjoy playing sport, mainly football or hockey, spending time with my friends and family, and travelling as often as I can.”

Georgie: “Playing tennis, lacrosse and rugby. Spending time with my family and friends and my dogs.”

Lottie: “My extra curricular hobbies are exploring London, watching classic films, and learning about new technology.”

Rachel: “I’m a real foodie! I’m also partial to the occasional board game.”

If you ever need assistance, you can reach us at contactus@fundingcircle.com. Alternatively you can give us a call on 0207 401 9111, Monday –   Friday 9am-6pm.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

Unsecured loans vs secured loans and what is a personal guarantee?

Unsecured loans explained

Welcome to our new Explainer series, where we’ll be helping you understand common phrases in more detail. We want to help clear up any terms you’re not familiar with, so you can make informed decisions on which loan is right for you.

First up we’re taking a look at personal guarantees and the difference between secured loans and unsecured loans. Looking from a borrower’s point of view, below we outline what the terms mean in general. We’ll then go into more detail on what to expect at Funding Circle.

For the most part, secured and unsecured business loans are very similar (although property loans can differ). You get a lump sum, then pay it back in installments with added interest. The key difference comes if you are unable to pay off the loan:

Secured Loans

With a secured loan, you put forward something of value as a ‘security’. This could be property, land, equipment or other assets. If you stop repaying your loan the lender could take this asset and sell it to recover the unpaid amount. The loan is secured against the asset or assets chosen.

Unsecured Loans

With an unsecured loan, you do not put forward any assets as a security. That means you don’t have to give up your property, land, or other assets if you can’t make the repayments. The lender may ask instead for a personal guarantee, or simply trust you are creditworthy enough to repay the loan.

What is a Personal Guarantee?

A personal guarantee is an agreement that the person(s) involved will cover the cost of the loan if the business is unable to repay it. Typically this is the Director(s) of the company. They become the guarantor of the loan, meaning their personal assets could be taken if the business fails or is otherwise unable to repay the loan.

Pros and cons

Unsecured loans are usually quicker to apply for as they require no valuation of assets. They are also a useful option if your business doesn’t have any high value assets that you can use as a security.

However, sometimes unsecured loans can have a higher interest rate as the lender is taking a greater risk. Being creditworthy enough to qualify can also be very difficult. Providing a personal guarantee can counter both these problems.

If, however, you would like to keep your personal finances completely separate, a secured loan may be your preferred option.

How does it work at Funding Circle?

At Funding Circle businesses borrow directly from our range of investors, including people, local councils and institutions. They provide all the capital for our loans, and if the loans they fund are not repaid, they could lose part or all of their investment.

So, to help us give investors greater peace of mind about the money they lend, we ask for a personal guarantee from company shareholders on almost all of our business loans.  

Unlike some other lenders, at Funding Circle the interest rate you have to pay on your loan will not be affected whether you choose to get a secured loan or an unsecured loan with a personal guarantee. For business loans our interest rate is determined by your risk band (although again property loans can differ). This is worked out using a number of factors such as your credit history, turnover and company finances.

All decisions regarding risk bands and the type of security required are taken by Funding Circle’s Credit Assessment team.

Looking for a secured or unsecured business loan?

You can check your eligibility for a business loan from Funding Circle in 30 seconds.

2017: what a start! January industry news.

 

Funding Circle secures additional financing from UK government

What an exciting start to the year we’ve had! The first piece of news came just days after we’d celebrated the dawn of a new year when Funding Circle announced a £40 million extension to the British Business Bank’s lending through the platform, which has already earned the institution more than £5 million in interest. Since UK Government-owned institutions first started lending in 2013, more than 10,000 UK small businesses have benefited from their funding, which now totals £100 million. The extension of this partnership will help thousands more small businesses access the finance they need to flourish.

U.K. Online Lender Bucks Brexit With $100 Million Funding Round

Soon after, Funding Circle announced an £82 million capital raise, with participation from  existing investors including Accel Partners and Index Ventures. This brought the total amount of equity raised to £300 million and means that Funding Circle is now one of the best capitalised businesses in the industry. The extra funding will enable the business to continue investing in its technology – enabling the continuous evolution of a best in class user experience.

Beware digital revolution, says Carney

Elsewhere, the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney took to the stage at a G20 conference in Germany to discuss the future of Fintech and the impact it could have on traditional financial services. Carney announced that “…this wave of innovation promises a FinTech revolution that will democratise financial services. Consumers will get more choice, better-targeted services and keener pricing.” The Governor also offered a cautious suggestion that regulators should pay close attention to the sector’s evolution.

Small businesses ready to seize new growth opportunities in 2017

In a survey conducted by insurance firm Zurich, small business owners showed their excitement for the new year ahead by raising their growth expectations. Confidence is also up, marking a change in mood among small businesses since the EU referendum last June.

Debrett’s 500 list:  Entrepreneurs

Funding Circle Co-Founder and UK Managing Director James Meekings featured in this year’s Debrett 500 List under the ‘Entrepreneur’ category. James was recognised for his efforts in innovation alongside fellow Fintech founders from Zopa, TransferWise, Crowdcube and WorldRemit. Each individual on the list has founded, or led, a business that has contributed to the bettering of people’s lives in some way through their company.

Survival guide to personal loans

Moving into the world of personal finance, The Independent put together a ‘survival guide to personal loans’. The article gives readers a whistle-stop tour of everything you need to know when considering taking out loan. It then dives into the options, which includes peer-to-peer lending platform Zopa and challenger bank Ikano.

Peer-to-peer lender Zopa passes £2 billion loans milestone

Finally, Zopa were also mentioned in the news after passing the milestone of investors lending £2 billion to UK consumers, with Funding Circle very close behind! This was made up of 300,000 loans to 246,000 individuals. Within the announcement, Zopa also shared information on the what most of their customers use the loan for, with 34% purchasing a car, 31% consolidating debt and 20% using the funds for home improvements.

Looking to expand your business?

More than 20,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance from Funding Circle, helping with seasonal cash flow, refurbishment, asset finance and much more. You can check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

News

Behind the scenes: How the Funding Circle process works

We understand that when you need finance for your business, speed is crucial. Whether you want to hire a new member of staff, stock up on seasonal products or make the most of a new opportunity, a slow application process will hold you and your business back.

Get funding for your business within a week

At Funding Circle we’ve streamlined our processes so you don’t need to compromise your time to get the funding you need.

You can check your eligibility online in just 30 seconds. It takes only 10 minutes to fill out our simple application form, and we’ll give you a decision typically within just 2 working days. We let you focus on running your business, and before you know it, you could have the funds in your bank account within a week.

Combining the best of finance and latest technology

We’ve helped more than 20,000 UK businesses like yours access close to £2 billion in the last 6 years, and we want to help even more in the years to come. Our London team includes more than 350 specialists, from legal to risk, payments to marketing, and of course an extensive technology team, bringing together the best finance practices and innovative technology. We give businesses across the UK fast and affordable access to finance, helping them to flourish, grow and drive the economy forward.  

Find out what happens when you apply for a loan through Funding Circle and take a sneak peek behind the scenes in this short video:

We’re committed to helping businesses access the finance they need to grow with business loans up to £350,000 unsecured, with a personal guarantee. Our loans are highly flexible and can be used for a wide range of business purposes, including buying stock, expansion, refurbishment and much more. You can check if you’re eligible for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

Picture story: Home sweet home in South London

Last year, we visited London property specialist HWJ Developments Ltd who were in the midst of refurbishing a 1930s detached house in South London. Business owner Henry Jamieson has over 15 years of experience, and his previous projects include a range of residential and commercial buildings, from Red Dog Restaurants in Hoxton and Clapham to art galleries in Mayfair and residential properties throughout central London from Wandsworth through to Camden.

The brand new 3,487sqft 5 bedroom house is situated in suburban London just 20 minutes by train from London Bridge or Victoria. Henry explained he was particularly excited when he found the house for sale on the internet as ‘the proportions of the building are very rare, it’s as wide as it is deep.’ However, the property had been affected by subsidence due to an overgrown oak tree and so the foundations needed completely redoing.

After acquiring the property and receiving planning permission late in 2015, Henry and his team of 15 full-time staff spent just under a year re-configuring the house. The building process went smoothly — Henry told us his philosophy for any development is “Aim for the best, but assume the worst, so that if the worst comes up you’re ready and will still make a profit.” Once the building was complete, the property was ‘dressed’ to bring it to life. This gives potential buyers an idea of how they might use the space, including a laid table and beautiful hand blown glass lighting in the kitchen diner.

To extend and refurbish this new family home in South London, HWJ Developments Ltd borrowed in December 2015. In this picture story, take a tour of the property and meet Henry:

Home sweet home

Property developer Henry

Property space

Henry quote

Stairs property

Development

Bathroom

Taps

Garden

Dressed property

Kitchen

Living room

Front of house

Thank you to investors

property finance contact

Accessing flexible finance allowed Henry to keep working and moving forward with his project. He added Funding Circle were a “joy to work with” and “made everything exceptionally easy to understand.” If, like Henry, you need property finance for your business, then you can email our property finance team directly to start your application.

Alternatively if you’re looking to lend to companies like Henry’s, then you can join 50,000 people who are already lending. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Take 10 – How to engage users and manage reputation on Social Media

Take 10 blog banner

With an estimated 2.3 billion users worldwide, social media provides huge opportunities to grow your customer base and build powerful relationships. According to Time magazine, 81% of consumers would have more faith in a company if they use social media, and millennials (those born from the early 80s to early 2000s) will be more likely to listen to social media users when making a purchase decision than anything said by government, business, or religious institutions.

However, making effective use of your chosen social media platforms isn’t easy. In our Take 10 series we’ve already looked at how to get started on social media, and how to take advantage of Facebook advertising. Now we want to look at some simple tips on how to build engaging relationships with your customers while managing and protecting your reputation.

1. Speak naturally

No one wants to talk to a robot. Social media is about connecting with people and building relationships, so don’t be afraid to let your personality come across in your posts. Getting a stock reply can make people feel unvalued, whereas being personal will help build trust in you and your brand. Engage with people and talk to them directly by using ‘you’ and ‘your’, and make sure you keep the tone consistent if more than one of you are posting.

2. Replying is more important than talking

Any opportunity to speak directly with a customer is important, whether it’s on social media, email, phone, or on your website. The difference with social media is that your response is in the public domain, so you can quickly gain or lose fans depending on what you do.

If you hide away from replying to a complaint, people will speculate or get more frustrated. If you try to challenge them, it could escalate and get worse. Take comments seriously, show empathy and apologise. Even if it wasn’t your fault, say you’re sorry they’ve had a bad experience. Provide information if possible and ask for details so you can call or message them directly.

Think of it as any other customer service channel. If you take time to respond to people and give them a great experience, you’ll add to your reputation and customer loyalty. Remember to use their tag (@name on twitter, name on Facebook etc) so that your post then appears on their network. Then if they like or share your response, you get a free advert of your great service!

Social media reputationHaving invested time and effort into their Twitter profile, Newton Farm Foods now have customers tweeting about their visits to their cafe and posting pictures of their flower displays.

3. Turn everyday events into content

Creating content doesn’t have to be time consuming. Capturing everyday events is an easy way of adding content for your social channels, and can help promote your products to your customers.

When anything gets you excited, take a photo and share it. It could be some fresh stock in your store (It’s strawberry season and these have just arrived fresh from the farm!), a new van for your fleet (Meet Terry, the newest member of our crew), or hiring a new staff member (We have a new Pastry Wizard joining our kitchen today – say hello to Jenny!).

If you’re setting up a seasonal display, or have filled your warehouse with 10,000 boxes for your peak sales period, let people know. These ‘behind the scenes’ posts help customers get to know your business better, building on your relationship while promoting your product or service. Always remember to tag users and use hashtags to reach a wider audience.

4. Curate content, start discussions

You don’t have to come up with everything yourself. Sharing articles, news, and photos from other sources is a great way to add variety to your posts and bulk out your content.

Think about what your customers are interested in that relates to your business. If you’re a bakery maybe that’s pictures of superhero cakes on instagram. If you’re an IT company it could be an exciting new technology launch. You can then use those posts as the starting point of a discussion — ask for people to share some favourite cake examples of their own, or for opinions on the news article you’ve posted.  

By adding content from elsewhere you avoid talking about yourself all the time and coming across as too salesy. Your followers will then get more value from your social channels, be more likely to engage with you, and be more likely to return.

Social media engagement
Pampeano ran a competition asking their followers to post pictures of any Pampeano gifts they received at Christmas, getting customers to talk about their products and creating a buzz around their brand.

Remember, engaged customers will advertise your business for you

Whether you’re one man band or have an in-house marketing team, managing social media can seem too time consuming to be worth the hassle. However, with a little effort, social media can turn your customers into brand ambassadors, building stronger relationships with them and giving you free advertising all at the same time.

Amour, liebe, love… | Weekly Lending Review

Week 4: 23 – 27 January

As we roll into February, New Year’s resolutions behind us and scoffing chocolate very much on the agenda for February 14th, we’ve put together a 6-step guide to help you make Valentine’s day extra special for your loved ones this year. All the businesses featured have been able to thrive thanks to your lending.

Record amount of new loans available to you

Last week, there was a record value of £30,784,970 new loans listed on the marketplace, averaging at £71,344 per loan. The largest loan value was £446,480 and the smallest loan value was £5,150. There are also thousands of loan parts available for you to buy which will help you become diversified.

How to make the most of your investment

To help you earn a more stable return and make the most of your investment at Funding Circle, spread your lending across hundreds of businesses so you’re only lending a small amount to each one. Watch our 90 second video below to find out more about diversification at Funding Circle.

Business loans available to bid on:

Gross interest rates are before fees and bad debts. Your actual return may be higher or lower as by lending to businesses, your capital is at risk.

Weekly marketplace trends

These graphs show the most recent activity on the marketplace. The number of loans, value of loans and amount lent are reported weekly.

Number of listed loans per week

 loans listed WLR 4

Listed loan value per week

 

Total amount lent

 

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

 

News you should know

Following a recent review of our property loan offering, we‘re increasing the interest rate on certain property loans and will begin to list some loans at a higher risk band than A+ or A. You can read more about this change on the blog.

Loans defaulted last week

Each week, we publish a list of the loans being defaulted on the Customer support section of our website under ‘Announcements.’ To see a breakdown of the loans defaulted last week simply click on loans defaulted 26th January 2017.  For further information on why Funding Circle defaults loans you can read our FAQ here.

Our collection and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts and will provide updates in the loan comments section on your summary page. You can also read more about how our collections and recoveries process works (part one and part two) on our blog.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

 

Our 6-step guide to a romantic night in this Valentine’s day

Amour, liebe, love… what better way to spend Valentine’s day than having a cosy and romantic night in with your special someone? To help you plan the perfect night, we’ve tailored a 6-step guide featuring wonderful small businesses across the country that have thrived thanks to your lending.

Step 1: Sweets for your sweet

What is the number one staple of Valentine’s day? Chocolate of course! Grab some gourmet sweets from Beech’s Fine Chocolates, such as their luxurious milk chocolate praline hearts – yum! The company, which was founded in 1920 in Lancashire, were able to keep up with high demand after borrowing £250,000 from Funding Circle investors.

Step 2: Flawless Flowers

Warm up your home with exquisite flowers from The Flower Emporium. The shop has been stocking and delivering flowers in Stockport since 1995so they are true experts in the field. Choose from an array of bouquets and arrangements, such as their Valentine Collection. You can even add a scrumptious chocolate pizza to your order! The Flower Emporium were able to further their refurbishment after borrowing £5,000 from investors in 2015.

Step 3: Wondrous Wine

For many people a romantic night isn’t complete without a superb bottle of wine, so we suggest grabbing a bottle from Talking Wines in the Cotswolds. The company is run by a passionate team who carefully select and source from independent producers. They also run a wine tasting event every Sunday. Whether you enjoy a deep red or a light and refreshing white, their online shop will have something to suit your tastebuds. To increase stock and selection due to high demand, the company accessed £40,000 in 2013 from 498 Funding Circle investors.

Step 4: Caring Cards

Surprise your loved one with a sweet and sentimental Valentine’s card from Love Kate’s. With over 250 cards to choose from, there is bound to be something that you and your partner will love. To help them improve their marketing and promote their brand, Love Kate’s borrowed £45,000 from 569 investors in 2015.

Step 5: Charming Candles

Pick up some warming candles from Bubblelush Divine Gifts to give your home an inviting and comfortable feel. The family-run business specialise in home fragrance and stock a variety of lovely scents such as Lemongrass and Ginger, Snowflake Cookie and Wild Fig. To help bring in new members of staff and expand into new markets, Bubblelush Divine Gifts applied for  £30,000 from Funding Circle in 2015.

Step 6: Perfect Presents

And finally, spoil your special someone with a thoughtful gift this year, such as a dazzling piece of jewellery from Krystal London. The shop handcraft everything locally themselves using the finest quality Swarovski Crystals at affordable prices. The company were able to attend trade shows to share what they are passionate about after borrowing £40,000 from 671 investors.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside over 55,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today.

You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Looking to expand your business?

We’ve helped more than 20,000 businesses in the UK access finance for a range of finance needs, including hiring staff, opening new shops and working capital. Get your instant quote today.

Enjoy lending. The Funding Circle team

Behind the scenes: How the Funding Circle process works

We’re committed to helping established and creditworthy businesses, like your clients, access the finance they need to grow with business loans up to £350,000 unsecured, with a personal guarantee. Our loans are highly flexible and can be used for a wide range of business purposes, including buying stock, expansion, refurbishment and much more.

Since launching in 2010, we’ve helped more than 20,000 UK businesses access over £1.8 billion and over the last six years our team’s grown too. There’s now more than 350 staff in our London office, from legal to risk, payments to marketing and of course an extensive technology team.

To ensure your client gets a decision within two working days and receives the funds shortly after, our dedicated team, including nine Business Development Managers and five Account Managers, work with specialists from across the business.

In this short video, Business Development Manager James will take you on a tour of our office, show you what happens behind the scenes when you apply for a loan through Funding Circle and introduce you to some of the team:

To recap, once you’ve submitted an application online:

  • Your Account Manager will need 3 months business bank statements, the last set of full, filed accounts at Companies House and if these are over 16 months old we’ll need P&L and balance sheet information for the last financial year end.
  • Then, an Underwriting Assistant will carry out some initial credit checks and searches on the financial documents you’ve submitted.
  • Our Credit Assessment team will then look at whether the loan is affordable, if it makes sense and whether it fits our credit criteria.
  • Once the loan is approved, you’ll receive an email with the offer conditions and loan contract. Once the contract has been signed by a company director, scan it back to us along with:
    • A direct debit mandate
    • I.D. and proof of address documents for all guarantors
    • If it’s a Limited company, a personal guarantee
  • The team will then carry out a few final fraud checks, and once complete the loan will be listed at random either as a whole loan, where an institutional investor buys the entire loan, or as a partial loan where thousands of investors lend to your client. The funding process typically takes one to five working days.
  • Once the process is complete, your client will receive the funds within 24 hours.

If you have any questions about the process or want to find out more, contact your Business Development Manager who’ll be happy to help.

Partner with Funding Circle

Our dedicated team work with hundreds of introducers, including commercial finance brokers, financial advisors, corporate partners and accountants. If you haven’t yet tried Funding Circle but have clients who are looking for fast, flexible finance, why not register now to check their eligibility or log back in to your account to start submitting more deals.