VIDEO. Meet the Yorkshire businesses who grew with finance

Spanning from the Pennines to the North Sea and from Sheffield to Whitby, Yorkshire is by far the largest county in the UK. It encompasses empty moorland and crowded cities, high fells and low plains.

On August 1st each year Yorkshire celebrates its own day. Starting out as a military holiday in 1975, it has been held and enjoyed ever since. Steadily evolving over time, it’s now a day to remember and celebrate the local traditions, culture and people of God’s own country.

To join the celebrations we visited three Yorkshire businesses. Teasdale Motors, The Yorkshire Gelato Company and The Great Yorkshire Gift Shop have all been able to progress thanks to loans from Funding Circle. They’ve been able to buy more stock, employ more staff and increase turnover by up to £1 million per year.

In this short video, meet business owners Andy, Dave and Aeneas. They talk more about being a Yorkshire business owner how Funding Circle has helped them to grow.

Looking for finance to grow your business?

Expand, hire staff, buy stock, boost cash flow or fund your next step with fast affordable finance. Check if you qualify in 30 seconds at fundingcircle.com.

Want to lend to businesses like this?

Lend alongside 78,000 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.

5 ways to treat your Dad this Father’s Day

Trying to think of something to get your Dad this Father’s Day? Instead of giving him another pair of socks or a coffee mug, we have come up with a variety of ideas for all the different Dads out there. All these businesses have been able to flourish thanks to your lending.

Organise a trip away

Does your Dad love being outdoors? How about organising a short trip away to the rural village of Alves in Northern Scotland? Here you’ll find North Alves Holiday Park. The company is run by a passionate couple who have come up with their very own unique style of “glamping”. When visiting this park you have the opportunity to stay in a SKARA central-BBQ cabin, which allows you to enjoy the pleasure of socialising and cooking at the same time. In order to continue to cater for the ever-growing needs of their customers, the company borrowed £31,000 on two separate occasions in 2017 and 2018.

 

Get ready for a fishing trip

Does your Dad reckon himself as a bit of an angler? If so head down to Top Tackle for his Father’s Day supplies this year. These guys offer a range of fishing tackle and other accessories. They deal with a number of major fishing tackle manufacturers, such as Korda and Preston Innovations. The company borrowed £5,000 at the beginning of the year. This funding helped to introduce even further ranges to their online portal and renovate their store in central Oxford.

Have some throwback fun

Get the flares out of the cupboard and break out the Dad dancing with at Razza Roller Disco! Razza was created by dance champion Gary Newley in 2012 with the purpose to deliver an incredible customer service for all. You can also book a skating lesson at Razza Skate Academy. The company was able to expand into other areas of the country after they borrowed £47,000.00 at the beginning of 2018, purchasing new DJ gear, safety equipment and uniforms.

Watch an extreme sports performance

Is your Dad more into adrenaline action? Check out Inspire Shows, who provide unforgettable extreme sports performances. You may recognise their team of highly skilled stunt individuals from the popular TV show “Don’t Tell the Bride”, where they conducted the world’s first ever extreme sports wedding. Thanks to your lending, the company purchased more stunt ramps for their nail-biting shows, enabling them to host multiple bookings on the same day.

Get a luxury grooming set

Finally, if your Dad is needing some R&R then you could always spoil him rotten with a gift set from Debonair Male and Fitness Grooming. Whether it’s their Deluxe Beard Oil Gift Box or Daily Shampoo Moisturising Conditioner Set, this luxury British brand provides a range of high-quality products with an innovative approach. Their aim is to make men of all ages and backgrounds feel good about themselves. The company was able to purchase new salon equipment after borrowing £13,000 at the beginning of 2018.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?
Lend alongside 79,000 investors and support British businesses by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started. 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.

The world needs small business

Small businesses play a vital role in driving prosperity around the world. They create jobs, provide essential services, develop exciting new products and support local communities. In the UK alone they account for 50% of GDP and 60% of private sector employment. In short, small businesses are the unsung heroes of our economy, so we decided to do some singing.

Funding Circle was founded to help small businesses get the finance they need to thrive. Having worked with thousands of businesses, we’ve seen first hand how access to funds allows them to keep progressing and achieve even more. To celebrate the contribution they make, we’ve partnered with Oxford Economics to produce an in-depth report looking at the economic impact of lending through Funding Circle.

Below you can find the key findings from the report, a summary video and the report in full. Watch it, read it, share it and help spread the news of our amazing small businesses up and down the country.

Download the full report – The Economic Impact Report of Lending Through Funding Circle.

You can also find more information in our blog – Digging into the data: How your lending helps the UK economy to grow.

Figures taken from the FSB. By lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Yoga, Pilates or Bodybarre? How will you stay in shape in 2018?

The decision to become fitter is usually top of people’s new year’s resolutions and for good reason. Many of the world’s most well-known and successful entrepreneurs consider yoga, pilates and other forms of physical fitness as an essential ingredient for their continued success. These 5 local businesses are helping the UK get in shape, so where will you start?

Record your every move at Be X Fitness

Established in 2013, this Barnsley-based fitness center offers team workouts using high tech equipment so you can get the most out of your workout. Thanks to My Zone, the connected tracking technology, users can record their every move, analyse performance and receive personalised training advice from coaches.

running-shoes

To support growth, Kevin Yates applied for a business loan through Funding Circle in November 2017. They accessed £106,000 in less than one week, meaning they could take on the next opportunity quickly.

Physio by Pea Green to keep you energised

Stephanie Smith launched Oxfordshire-based Pea Green Physio back in 2008. Eight years on she decided she wanted to expand into yoga and pilates and needed a business loan to open a studio. Pea Green now offers yoga and pilates classes alongside sports massages and rehabilitation therapy after raising £25,000 through Funding Circle.

yoga-park

Rediscover fitness with Paola’s Bodybarre

Forget what you know about traditional fitness classes and embrace Paola Di Lanzo’s multidisciplinary workout methods. From light sessions focusing on technique, alignment and flexibility, to high intensity training and weight-lifting, the wide range of classes will help you find the exercise you’re looking for. After opening her first studio in Fulham in 2014, Paola’s BodyBarre is now available in 7 other pop-ups, affiliated studios and private members clubs around London. Paula expanded the business with a £53,000 loan to open a new flagship studio in Sloane Square.

Paola's Bodybarre Studio

Yoga gets you in the right headspace

The meditation classes at London-based Yogacentric are said to improve your mental focus by connecting your mind and body. If meditation isn’t for you and you’re looking for something more active, try their hot yoga or one to one sessions. All levels are welcome.

yoga-outside

Daniel Percival came to Funding Circle in 2016 as he wanted to grow his London studio. He secured £53,200 over 5 years to finance working capital and the fit-out of a second location.

Keep moving at Alderley Pilates

Jan and Peter Bowen founded their pilates business in Cheshire 15 years ago. The studio brings talented teachers and enthusiasts of all levels together in a friendly and relaxed environment. All of their trainers are certified by Body Control Pilates, the largest European professional pilates’ organisation.

pilates-workout

Alderley Pilates first came to Funding Circle for a business loan in 2014. Finance from Funding Circle has helped them refurbish their premises and upgrade their website to grow the business.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside 76,000 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. 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?

More than 32,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance through Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

Meet 4 innovative businesses shaping your future

It’s the final week of our Christmas Carol, celebrating the amazing contribution small businesses make all year round. So far we’ve looked at how to have a traditional Christmas, and amazing experiences you can enjoy this year. Now we’re looking to the future. Read on to find 4 innovative businesses that are shaping our future, all of which have been able to flourish thanks to your lending.  

Live like the Jetsons

Picture the scene, it’s Christmas Eve 2018. You arrive home and your driveway gates swoosh open as you approach. The driveway lights flick on, and as you approach your front door, the porch light comes on automatically to welcome you home. As you turn the key your hallway lights come on at just the right brightness level. The living room lights dim, the curtains automatically close, and your favourite music starts to play throughout the house.

innovative businesses

Nottingham based Design Innovation regularly set up such futuristic home automation systems. Owner Nick Gale has been working in the industry for twenty years. He expanded his business with a loan of £75,000 in 2014.

Building the latest gadgets

TechInvasion could solve all your present-buying dilemmas next Christmas. Established in 2008 with a passion for new functionality and cutting-edge technology, the company scours the globe for the latest and most useful gadgets. They identify the most innovative technology out there, and even work with inventors to bring new ideas to market.

innovative businesses

For the traveller in your life, how about the ‘Airbolt’, a Bluetooth enabled smart suitcase lock. Using GPS, you can see your luggage’s last location and set alerts remotely. You can also add a PIN to boost your security. Or the Rocketbook Wave – a traditional pen and paper notebook that instantly uploads your notes into the cloud using your smartphone. We’re ordering them for next year now! TechInvasion grew their business with a loan of £52,000 in September 2017.

Helping cutting-edge research

Andy, founder and CEO of Oxford Optronix, first built a machine over 30 years ago as part of his PhD Biomedicine studies. He now runs a business that pioneers the design, development and manufacture of sophisticated instrumentation for the life sciences.

innovative businesses

Oxford Optronix now employs fourteen staff, and supplies specialist machinery like the HypoxyLab, a ‘contamination-free’ workstation to enable cutting-edge tissue culture research. They’re innovations could help make serious advances in illness treatment – a fantastic Christmas present indeed. Oxford Optronics are another amazing business that’s been able to progress thanks to your lending. They funded their manufacturing growth with £247,000 over 3 loans.

Building a sustainable future

On Christmas Day in the future, the energy for those twinkling fairy lights might not come from the National Grid, but a renewable energy source much closer to home. Gloucestershire-based consultancy Sustainable Direction Ltd is committed to helping communities generate energy locally, use their resources efficiently and reduce waste as far as possible.

innovative businesses

They’ve done ground-breaking work with the channel island of Alderney, helping the community replace their entire electricity generation system. The new sustainable, low-cost and more secure energy solution could soon be a template for other rural communities. Sustainable Direction was the first business to borrow through Funding Circle in 2010, and have been able to grow even further with a second loan of £54,000 in 2016.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?
Lend alongside 74,000 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. 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?
More than 30,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance from Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

A Christmas Carol – Small Business Future

It’s the week before Christmas, and while Santa and Rudolph are taking all the headlines, we’re celebrating the amazing work small businesses do all year round. In our Christmas Carol so far we’ve looked at small business past and present, now for the final chapter we’re looking at the future. Read on to find out what the landscape might look like for businesses in the years to come.

The return of the masters

Large corporate players have come to dominate the retail market over the last century. However, as they strive to be unbeatable on choice and price, by having such a vast offering they can’t compete on specialist knowledge.

small business future

Consequently, small retailers and manufacturers with local knowledge or specialist offerings are making a comeback. Modern consumers are increasingly hungry for information about their products. They want bespoke, locally produced and sustainable goods. They want to know it’s well made and ethically sourced. As a result, they’re seeking out the specialist knowledge of smaller, independent retailers. Entrepreneurs that can show off their credentials are rewarded with repeat business and growing word of mouth, and carve out a niche where large retailers struggle to compete.

Technology that grows with your business

Not too long ago, having powerful data programmes was the reserve of only the largest firms. They required serious investments of time, capital and staff, and gave the big players a competitive advantage that was out of reach to small businesses.

small business future

 

Now that landscape is changing rapidly. SaaS companies (Software as a Service) and other platforms are democratizing big data capabilities, opening them up to everyone. A small business can take a basic price plan with a limited feature set, then steadily add more options as they grow. They provide enterprise standard infrastructure at an accessible cost. Businesses can then enter new markets and compete on a local, national and international level. As more platforms emerge, small businesses will have fewer limitations and can grow faster than ever before.

Building global brands

Alongside the changes to internal business systems, social media and digital marketing are creating new opportunities to reach customers. Free to set up and simple to use, social media allows small businesses to reach a global audience. Once a luxury for those with big budgets, they can now build brand awareness campaigns to grow their reputation. With a variety of social channels that appeal to different audiences, social media will be an essential tool for long-term growth and short-term sales.

small business future

Businesses can use hashtags and trending topics to reach new customers interested in their field. They can also keep existing customers engaged so they keep coming back. Millennials want to feel informed and involved, not marketed to. So, whether it’s sharing your latest product on Instagram or announcing a limited offer on Twitter, engaging customers through social media will help small businesses thrive.

Alternative finance goes mainstream

Already worth £4.6 billion in the UK alone, the “alternative finance” industry is helping more businesses get the funds they need to grow. Crowdfunding is helping businesses get off the ground, while online lending platforms are giving them the finance to grow.

These new funding streams give businesses access to capital at the point they need it. Whereas banks can be slow to respond, online lending platforms can process applications in just days. This allows businesses to respond quickly to changing demands or new opportunities, making them more resilient.

small business future

In Q3 2017, more net lending was done to small businesses through Funding Circle alone than the major high street banks combined. As the growth of the sector continues, small businesses will have access to faster, more reliable funding to pursue their ambitions.

AI and bots will fill the gaps

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer’s ability to think for itself. It uses information given previously to make decisions, imitating our own ‘human’ cognitive functions. Machine learning is an application of AI that enables computers to learn for themselves as they receive more information.

Why is this important? Typically at small businesses, there are a small number of staff performing lots of different roles. Everyone has to wear multiple hats to get everything done. However, if machines can imitate human thinking, they can start handling some of those business functions, freeing up time and resource.

small business future

In the near future an online chatbot could handle all your customer service queries. Open up your normal messenger apps like Whatsapp or Facebook and it could take orders and recommend products. It could even forward documents and even give installation tips. Many will still want to provide a personal service, but AI can help fill the gaps and compliment their existing service.

As discussed in our look at Small Business Present, it’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. With consumer habits evolving and technology creating new avenues in marketing, funding and systems, the future of small businesses is packed with opportunities.

Check out the rest of our small business Christmas Carol

Read the first part on the history of small businesses, and our look at the life and impact of small businesses today.

 

A Christmas Carol – Small Business Present

Businesses across the country work hard all year round. To celebrate their devotion and their contribution to the economy, this festive season we’re presenting our very own Christmas Carol. Last week we looked at the history of small businesses, from medieval times to the early 1900s. Today it’s time for small business present, so read on to learn about the impact they have on today’s world and the trends that have helped them along the way.

Big business booms in the 1960s

Before we get to the modern day, it’s useful to look back over the last few decades to understand the changes that led us here. In the 1960s, small businesses were struggling. Television and globalisation were having a huge impact on the world, and big business was booming.

small business present

Piccadilly Circus at night circa 1960 – David Howard

Shoppers wanted to go to big supermarkets and buy the globally recognised brands they saw on TV. Local shops and independent producers struggled to compete, and their market share dropped dramatically. In everything from farms to finance, large corporate players bought out their smaller rivals, and manufacturing jobs were taken abroad for cheaper labour. Coupled with a thriving stock market and a flourishing electronics and information industry, more and more people moved from manual work to office-based roles.

Such was the preference for big business, even the term “small business” saw a decline. Business owners across the western world faced a squeeze, and starting your own enterprise was an increasingly rare thing to do.

small business present

This graph shows the use of “Small business” in English books over time

Entrepreneurs start their comeback

A career-minded office worker in the 1970s planned to become an increasingly important fish in a big corporate pond. However, as the 1980s progressed, entrepreneurs began to break out on their own once more. While some business owners desired independence and others were laid off, collectively there was a cultural shift away from corporate life, and entrepreneurship was a common aspiration once more.

Technology creates new opportunities

The 1990s saw the widespread adoption of home computing and the internet. Not only did this make it easier to run a business from your own home, entrepreneurs could access a global market at the touch of a button. By drastically reducing overheads, it lowered the barriers to entry for newcomers. Established businesses could now also compete on a more even footing.

small business present

Hewlett-Packard HP9000 Unix Workstation – Thomas Schanz

Adapting to a new world order

An advantage small businesses have always had is their adaptability. Without hierarchy and extensive processes, they are more nimble in responding to a changing marketplace. Employees also have more varied roles and skill sets, as they have to carry out multiple business functions with a smaller staff base. As the pace of change continues to accelerate through the digital age, savvy entrepreneurs can seize opportunities quickly. Large corporate firms, on the other hand, can be cumbersome to respond.

Faith in institutions, whether they are government, media, NGOs or corporations, is also at an all time low. The volume of opinion available today means they no longer hold the sway they once did, and scandal after scandal across every industry has destroyed the trust people once had.

Now customers are looking for alternatives. What they crave most is authenticity, and small businesses are ideally placed to step in. Whether they’re an IT provider or an artisan bakery, small businesses tend to be specialists. They have a natural authenticity as experts in their chosen field, allowing them to engage with their audience more genuinely. They can then appeal to a slice of the market that large companies will struggle to reach.

small business present

David from The Creative Whisky Company – a Funding Circle borrower

A golden age for entrepreneurs

These cultural and technological trends have led to an unprecedented boom for small businesses. Today there are 5.7 million businesses in the UK, an increase of 2.2 million since 2000, and up from just 700,000 a few decades ago. 99% of them are small businesses, showing the incredible impact they have on our economy:

  • Small businesses employ 16.1 million, 60% of private sector employment
  • Their combined turnover is £1.9 trillion, 51% of private sector turnover
  • 76% are sole proprietors

A recent survey found that 84% of people who work for themselves are “more satisfied in their working lives”. Less than 5% of owners plan to close their business down and move back to a more traditional job.

Even the political uncertainty of events such as Brexit have not dampened the rise of entrepreneurs. Over 400,000 new businesses have been created in the last two years, with 67% saying that they are expecting to see an increase in turnover during the next 12 months.

Along with the new opportunities in digital marketing and management, new sources of funding are helping small businesses thrive. Online lending and crowdfunding give entrepreneurs better access to the funding they need. This not only helps them get started, but allows them to grow and become more resilient to changing economic times.

Added together, it truly is a golden age for entrepreneurs and small business. Long may it continue.

Check out the rest of our Small Business Christmas Carol

Read our first chapter on the history of small businesses, then complete the journey with Small Business Future, looking at the trends shaping their future.

 

A Christmas Carol – Small Business Past

Whatever the season, small businesses work harder on any given day than Mr Claus on Christmas Eve. Santa may take all the glory, but it’s the determined businesses around the country that deserve the real recognition.

To celebrate the work they do, we’re presenting our very own Christmas Carol, looking at small business past, present and future over the next few weeks. First up, we look at the history of small businesses, learning what life was like for entrepreneurs up until the early 20th century.

Before the industrial revolution, all business was small business

In medieval times, businesses were small operations working mostly in local economies. Farmers sold grain to merchants for sale at local markets, while a single blacksmith would serve the needs of the surrounding area. They were typically single-man or family operations, working for themselves without employees.

Small businesses began forming guilds

To meet the pressure of increasing competition, skilled craftsmen banded together to form guilds. The guild marked a sign of quality, and would often be associated with a particular town or city. They also acted as early unions, scheduling ‘no-work feast days’.

The rise of big business

During the industrial revolution, new technologies such as steam power allowed large factories to greatly increase production. Due to economies of scale the lone blacksmith could no longer compete, and big business grew to dominate. Coupled with international shipping, electric motors and gasoline, the landscape quickly changed forever.

It was only with this rise of ‘big business’ that the term ‘small business’ became common, as it was needed to compare the two. The below graph shows the use of the term ‘small business’ in English books.

Use of “small business” in English books

small business past

Small businesses adapt to changing times

While wealthy industrialists were riding high, smaller entrepreneurs also took advantage of new opportunities from a rapidly expanding economy. The manufacturing boom and imports from around the empire meant a wealth of new products on offer, providing new opportunities for shopkeepers and merchants. This increase in trade and industry then required servicing by transport, banks, clerks and insurers.

small business past

A Victorian business card

Towns and cities also grew rapidly as people flooded there for work. Infrastructure was needed to support this expansion, creating work in everything from building houses to selling milk. The growth meant more schools, doctors, lawyers, shops, pubs and much more. If you were a savvy entrepreneur, there was a small business waiting for you.

However, while the economy grew, it was still a very precarious place for a small business owner. Income was modest and access to credit was limited, leaving them vulnerable to competition and difficult periods of trade. Reputation and contacts were still a major factor in business arrangements, and working class businessmen trying to elevate themselves to the middle class were more susceptible to hard times.

small business past

Street sellers thrive

Known as costermongers, street sellers had a particular set of reliable wares that they sold from a barrow or donkey-cart. It could be anything from oysters and hot eels to crumpets, candles, books or live birds. There was an estimated 30,000 costermongers in London during the late 1800s, and most middle and working class households depended on them.

A street-seller locksmith

Victorian shops

Early Victorians didn’t put prices on their goods. Not only did this allow for haggling, but meant they could set a higher price for customers who looked more affluent.

Goods were also kept in drawers, cupboards or cases and could only be touched by the shopkeeper. In a shoe shop for example, you would only be able to see closed boxes. Rather than browse, you would describe what you needed shoes for and the clerk would select some for you try on.

As time went by, more shop owners began trying to make extra sales with displays of goods on counters with the prices noted. Window displays then followed, with shops installing plate glass fronts to attract customers as they walked by. Stores got larger, and “shop walkers” were employed that were half security guard and half shop assistant.

small business past

A Victorian shop front

Shops were unique, with different suppliers and product ranges. To prevent men walking into an embarrassing situation, women’s clothes were kept on the 2nd floor. Some sold counterfeit goods, while others marked products as “smuggled and stolen” to make them more desirable. As a result, shoppers would go back to vendors they trusted, and manufacturers began prepackaging goods to ensure quality and weight.

Services to the home in 1900

It was commonplace for small businesses to bring their goods or services to customers’ homes. Bakers delivered daily, while milk was delivered and measured out at the door, often twice a day. You’d then make payment for the week on Saturdays.

Others goods such as coal were delivered too. After ordering at the coal yard, your selected grade of coke for the boiler and coal for the fire was brought and deposited in a bunker outside. You would address tradesmen by the product they carried – “Coalman, Milkman, Dustman” and so on.

Insurance was also collected door-to-door. Life insurance was most popular as it was a terrible stigma not to be able to afford a funeral. A company agent would collect each month and log the payment in his book. They’d try to upsell them to contents insurance, or house insurance if they owned their home.

Check out the rest of our Christmas Carol

Continue the journey with Small Business Present – a look at their place in the modern world and the trends that led them there. And finally, in Small Business Future we look at tech and cultural trends that will shape business life in the years to come.

 

How to have a terrifically traditional Christmas

Whether it’s December or June, small businesses are working harder than Santa’s elves all year round. To celebrate their achievements, we’re presenting our very own Christmas Carol, looking at the past, present and future of small businesses.

We kicked off with a Small Business Past, looking at the life of an entrepreneur up to the early 1900s. In today’s piece, we’ve got four fantastic Funding Circle borrowers to help you have a traditional Christmas, so you can celebrate like it’s 1900. They’ve all been able to take their business forward thanks to your lending.

traditional christmas

Sit by a roaring fire

Nothing is more cosy at Christmas time then nestling up by a roaring fire. If you want to give your front room the traditional touch, Aberdeen Fireplace Ltd can help you out. You can find traditional coal or wood burning stoves, as well as grates, ash pans and other accessories. You can also get a gas or electric number if you’d like a more modern feel. To upgrade their premises, they borrowed £27,000 in May 2014.

Get a goose for the family

Victorian families would traditionally have goose or roast beef on Christmas Day. Affluent households then began having turkey, which developed into the staple we enjoy today. Whether you’re entertaining a big group or there’s only a few of you this Christmas, The Wild Meat Company in Suffolk have an excellent range of products for you to serve from local farms. The meat specialist borrowed over £40,000 in September to finance a new labelling and scanning system to package their products. Just make sure you order before Sunday 10 December 2017!

traditional christmas

Eat by candlelight

Without electric lighting, families depended on candles to light their homes. Why not give your table a more atmospheric touch this year with a selection of candles from Northumbrian Candleworks. They have a range of candles and scents to suit any tastes, although probably best to stick to the house lights for cooking! Northumbrian Candleworks borrowed £5,300 in July 2017.

traditional christmas

Indulge in a proper Christmas pudding

Although there is some debate, recipes for the Christmas pudding go back to the 17th century. Enjoyed by royals and working folk alike, its popularity led it to become a symbol of unity across the British Empire. To get your perfect pud, head to Georgie Porgie’s Puddings, an award-winning pudding shop in Devon. From sponges to seasonal specials, everything is handmade with local ingredients. Georgie Porgie borrowed £46,350 in May 2017 to expand their premises and improve business year round.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside 74,000 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?

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

Are you Made to do More?

made to do more

Small business owners have a restless spirit. They have the courage to stand up and go their own way and say “I can do this”. We’re here to help them go further, and we want to support everyone who has that vision. Over half of Brits (56%) think they have the skills to run their own business, but only 13% believe they’re entrepreneurial. If everyone really believed they were Made to do More, we could boost the economy and ignite even more opportunities.

Time to believe

We want to celebrate the big thinkers and the tenacious workers, the people who get up and decide to tackle something new, to give them the belief to take that leap and go their own way.

By realising your own unique attributes and perspective you’ll find the seeds for your future success. If you don’t see yourself as an entrepreneur, you’re in good company, as only 26% of business owners consider themselves entrepreneurial. You don’t need a vision for an empire, just a spark, an idea, and the belief to see it through.

Life would be boring if we all saw things the same. See how your perspective shapes your potential.

From determination and hard graft to passion and creativity, everyone has unique personality traits which give them the potential to succeed. Do you know what yours are?

Our personality test on Facebook can tell you where your talents lie. It’ll help you decide if you’re more of a Business Creative than a Planner, and understand how you can use your attributes to thrive as a business owner.

Head to our Facebook page to take the test

What do you see?

Look at these images and tell us what you see.

 

Now have a look again – do you see something different? What about your friends, family, colleagues? You’ll be surprised what they say.

 

made to do more

 

Do you see a skull first? If so, you’re a Business Creative. You have an exceptional ability to adapt and react to any business situation. You’re intrinsically motivated to succeed within the workplace and will be at the forefront of how a company develops. Your ideas are ready to take you to the next step.

Or do you see a light bulb? If so, you’re a Big Picture Thinker. You’re reliable and always have a plan in place to get the job done. You solve complex problems by using your instincts to work towards your end goals, and don’t necessarily worry about all the details. No business can truly succeed without this type of thinking.

made to do more

 

Do you see cloth? If so, you’re a Big Picture Thinker. You’re reliable and always have a plan in place to get the job done. You solve complex problems by using your instincts to work towards your end goals, and don’t necessarily worry about all the details. No business can truly succeed without this type of thinking.

Or maybe you see a dog? If so, you’re a ‘Go To’ Person. As everyone’s best friend you’re able to get your colleagues to achieve heights they thought they never could. You’re emotionally intelligent and energetic, so naturally fall into a leadership role.

made to do more

 

Do you see a crocodile? That indicates you’re a Business Creative. You have an exceptional ability to adapt and react to any business situation. You’re intrinsically motivated to succeed within the workplace and will be at the forefront of how a company develops. Your ideas are ready to take you to the next step.

Or do you see an island? If so, that might mean you’re a ‘Go To’ Person. As everyone’s best friend you’re able to get your colleagues to achieve heights they thought they never could. You’re emotionally intelligent and energetic, so naturally fall into a leadership role.

made to do more

 

Does a lynx jump out at you first? If so, you’re likely to be a Big Picture Thinker. You’re reliable and always have a plan in place to get the job done. You solve complex problems by using your instincts to work towards your end goals, and don’t necessarily worry about all the details. No business can truly succeed without this type of thinking.

Or does a bird stand out more? If so, you’re a ‘Go To’ Person. As everyone’s best friend you’re able to get your colleagues to achieve heights they thought they never could. You’re emotionally intelligent and energetic, so naturally fall into a leadership role.

made to do more

 

Do you see a mother? If so, you’re a Big Picture Thinker. You’re reliable and always have a plan in place to get the job done. You solve complex problems by using your instincts to work towards your end goals, and don’t necessarily worry about all the details. No business can truly succeed without this type of thinking.

Or do you see a baby? If so, you’re a ‘Go To’ Person. As everyone’s best friend you’re able to get your colleagues to achieve heights they thought they never could. You’re emotionally intelligent and energetic, so naturally fall into a leadership role.

Looking to expand your business?

More than 30,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance through Funding Circle. You could boost your cash flow, refurbish premises, hire staff and much more. Check if you qualify for a business loan in just 30 seconds.

Want to lend to businesses across the UK?

Make a return and a difference by supporting small businesses. It’s quick and easy to open your account and build a diversified portfolio. Lend alongside 73,000 investors and support the UK economy by signing up online today. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Revisiting the first business to borrow through Funding Circle

Dr John Henry Looney is passionate about helping the world do more with less

With a PhD in Physiological, Community and Statistical Ecology, John Henry has over 30 years’ experience in delivering environmental and sustainability projects for businesses and organisations. In 2007, he decided to take the plunge and founded Sustainable Direction Ltd. John Henry and his team help businesses work with the natural world in order to increase their sustainability, efficiency and ultimately their prosperity.

Sustainable Direction Ltd is helping Alderney improve the efficiency of its energy infrastructure

The first Funding Circle borrower

John Henry also opened the way for small businesses back in August 2010 when Sustainable Direction Ltd became the first business to access finance through Funding Circle. They borrowed £12,000 from 53 investors to help demonstrate the viability of an outdoor air source heat pump.

Progression over 7 years

Sustainable Direction Ltd is now improving the energy efficiency of places like the Isle of Alderney, while investors lending through Funding Circle have helped a further 25,000 UK businesses to access finance.

Since 2010, we’ve worked tirelessly to improve our customer experience, as John Henry found when he borrowed a further £54,000 in October 2016 to hire two new members of staff and develop the business’s resources. John Henry said “We found it even easier this time…and it happened so fast, within a day or two the funds were in our account”.

Funding Circle co-founder and UK Managing Director James Meekings visited John Henry to see the development of Sustainable Direction Ltd— watch the video to find out more.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like Sustainable Direction Ltd?

Lend alongside 63,000 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?

More than 25,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance from Funding Circle, helping with cash flow, refurbishment, hiring staff and much more. You can check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

Take 10: 3 simple ways to manage an overwhelming workload

Quick and simple ways to boost your business in just 10 minutes

There’s never enough hours in the day, especially for small business owners. So, for the latest in our Take 10 series, we’re looking at 3 simple ways to help you stay on top of that never ending to do list.

busy workload

Managing your workload effectively can help keep you happy and healthy

Managing your time effectively helps you control of your day-to-day workload and keep a clear view of longer-time projects. In turn that can help you achieve your career goals more quickly and avoid stress.

Although a bit of stress is normal and can even be channelled into positive energy, being highly stressed over a longer period of time can be problematic. It can affect your sleep or even cause more serious illnesses, so controlling your workflow for a peaceful mindset is really important.

1) Is the task urgent, important or both?

When we’re busy rushing around it’s easy to prioritise those quick, urgent items to simply tick them off your to do list. It’s always tempting to reply to an email as soon as it pops into your inbox.

However, it’s important to understand the time constraints of the task in hand and whether it will have a high impact. The below Importance vs Urgency matrix can help you prioritise competing tasks:

Important vs urgent

For example, depending on your role, emailing a supplier about a change in your team might be important but not time sensitive. Whereas organising a looming invoice payment might be urgent and important.

2) Categorise tasks with the 4D’s

When looking through your inbox, try categorising tasks into the 4D’s: Delete, Delegate, Defer or Do.

Set yourself free from an exploding inbox and delete it

Consider whether the email requires your attention or is worth your time. If it’s not, keep your inbox uncluttered and delete it. This will help you focus on prioritising important items. And there’s always the deleted items folder if you realise you need it back!

Learn to delegate

You might be responsible for the task, but think whether it’s important or necessary for you to do it. Experts in your business might actually be better at performing the task. Just remember to ensure you put in time to check the item has been done by the person you’ve delegated it to.

If you don’t need to do it straight away, defer it

Think about whether the task is important or time sensitive, and whether you can afford to defer it. It might be an item that you’d like to do, but doesn’t need to be done for a hard deadline like a meeting or print deadline. Deferred tasks can sometimes become obsolete as goals move, meaning you also save yourself some time.

Just do it

If it’s a task that’s important to you and you have time to do it, get it done. Achieving these tasks, especially if business critical, can help you bookend your day or week and stay in control.

3) Prioritise using the MoSCoW matrix

If you’re managing a project and have a clear set of requirements, the MoSCoW matrix can help you rank tasks and deliver the most important items.

MoSCoW

Must: Any items that must be achieved to complete a successful project

Should: The project success doesn’t rely on this item, but if possible within your time and resource constraints you should include

Could: Items you could have as long as they don’t impact on other items to ensure you deliver a successful overall project

Would: If you had unlimited time and resource you would include this item. It might be included in future edition, but won’t be delivered within the current project scope

We hope you found this post useful. In the next instalment of Take 10, we’ll be looking at how to motivate your direct reports.

The Funding Circle team

Paralympian goes for gold with a Funding Circle loan

Peter and Linda Norfolk are no strangers to success

The husband-and-wife team are well-experienced in achieving excellence. Nicknamed ‘The Quadfather’, Peter Norfolk OBE is a double paralympic gold medal and multiple Grand Slam winning wheelchair-tennis player, while Linda was Head of Physio for the Paralympic GB team at the Athens Games.

Not content with just winning medals, together they also own and run Equipment for the Physically Challenged (EPC), specialising in providing high-performance wheelchairs and powerchairs. Founded in 1989, EPC imports specialist equipment from all over the world, providing their clients with a personalised service to ensure they get the chair best suited to their need. Their focus is to give customers more freedom, creating innovative chairs that are easier to dismantle, transport, and fit a wider range of uses.

To hire two new members of staff, upgrade their website and purchase new computer equipment, Peter and Linda borrowed £30,000 through Funding Circle in December 2016.

In this short video, meet this inspiring couple and hear more about their story.

 

 

Are you interested in lending to businesses like EPC-Wheelchairs?

Lend alongside 60,000 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?

More than 22,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance from Funding Circle, helping with cash flow, refurbishment, hiring staff and much more. You can check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

Preparing for your financial year end

Whether you carefully track everything all year round, or sort it all with two weeks to go, preparing for your financial year end is important for every business. If you’re about to get things in order for your business, we’ve put together a short guide to help your year end go as smoothly as possible.

What is a year end?

A ‘year end’ is the term used to describe the accounting documents you need to complete at the end of your financial year. What you need to submit depends on your business, but for a limited company you’ll at least need to file a corporate tax return to HMRC, and abbreviated accounts to Companies House.

Your year end accounts are publicly available, and will be checked by potential partners or investors you want to work with, or by lenders if you want to get a loan.

  • Corporate Tax Return – details the income you’ve received and any expenses or tax allowances. It’s important to get these figures right, as the remaining profit will be used to decide how much corporation tax you need to pay.
  • Abbreviated accounts – gives a broad view of your company’s finances, including your profit and loss, cash held, assets, creditors and debtors.

Key steps to get ready

Before you can file your accounts, you’ll need to do a lot of work to get all the information and documents you need. Here are a few key steps you can take to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Chase unpaid invoices

You want your books to be as accurate as possible, so you need to know exactly what you have and what’s missing. Chase down any outstanding invoices, then check the final amount matches with your records. If there’s any discrepancies you should investigate these before submitting your accounts.

Count your stock

If you have stock this should be handled in a similar way. Complete a full inventory of all your stock and log if there’s any discrepancies with your records. If there’s stock missing you can try to chase it down, or count it as a loss if it can’t be traced.

Get your expenses in order

Collecting expenses and receipts from all your staff is a crucial and often time consuming job. Business expenses are deducted from your profits which means you’ll have less tax to pay, so it’s worth putting the time in.

HMRC defines an expense as something ‘wholly and exclusively’ for business use. They can often be small amounts like lunch or transport, but can add up and make a difference over the year.

There’s a host of apps available to help track expenses and accounting. Read more in our Top Business Apps blog.

Check your employee data

Double check all your employee data is accurate. You as the employer are liable for any mistakes in income tax or national insurance contributions, not the employee. So to avoid having to ask your employees for some of their wages back later on, make sure it’s all up to date.

File your paperwork

Accounts need records to back them up, so make sure all your paperwork is organised and filed so that you can access them easily. This could be either hard copies or online. If you don’t have a record of something, this is the time to get statements from your bank, or statements of account from suppliers. Get everything in order before filing your year end, so if HMRC ask questions you’ll have evidence at the ready.

Work together to get prepared

Don’t leave it up to one person to chase down everything. Everyone in the business should be helping get the documents you need, whether it’s receipts for expenses, supplier contracts, or missing invoices. Get the word out early so that everything is submitted in plenty of time. Then whoever manages your accounts can bring it all together.

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

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.

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.

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.

Small businesses ready to seize new growth opportunities in 2017

Small business growth

After saying goodbye to an unpredictable 2016, small business owners across the country are stepping up their growth plans for the new year. According to a poll by insurance firm Zurich, the average business looking to get a loan plans to borrow up to 22% more compared to a year ago.

This is partly thanks to the continued growth of consumer spending in Q4 of 2016, and with the predicted downturn after the Brexit vote yet to materialise, around 36% of businesses are planning to borrow in 2017.

Rise in confidence

The rosier than expected outlook has led to a sharp rise in confidence among small business owners. In the Q4 Small Business Index (compiled by the Federation of Small Businesses) the confidence measure rose from -2.9 in Q3 to +8.5 in Q4 – returning almost to the pre-referendum level at the start of 2016 (+8.6) – meaning more small businesses feel confident than those that don’t.

Changes in the currency markets are having a more mixed impact on UK companies. While exchange rate and import cost rises are problematic for many, small exporters are benefiting from the weak pound and becoming more competitive overseas. A net balance of 18% of small businesses now expect to see export growth over the next three months.

With the uncertainty around Brexit negotiations set to continue over the next two years, the role of small businesses in the UK economy will be vitally important. Policy makers are being encouraged to support the sector, and the recent announcement that the British Business Bank will be lending an additional £40 million to small businesses through Funding Circle will be fantastic news for owners looking to borrow.

While numerous challenges remain, we’re excited to see small business owners feeling positive about the year ahead, and look forward to helping them capitalise on the new opportunities it brings.

If you’re hoping to expand your business this year or would like extra finance to help with working capital, you can check your eligibility for a loan at fundingcircle.com/businesses.