News

Back to News about npif

23rd October 2017

Rejecting rejection – what to do when your application for finance is denied.

 

Every year, thousands of smaller business owners tread the path to external finance, pursuing the cash injection that will fuel their next phase of business growth. However, while the SME finance market has strengthened significantly over the past few years and approval rates have risen, some areas of the business community still lag behind – particularly start-ups. Facing rejection from a lender can be extremely demoralising, and cause business-critical delays that dent revenues, impede day-to-day operations and knock stakeholder confidence.

In an ever-changing funding landscape, it’s critical that business owners recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all approach’. Only by preparing thoroughly and assessing both traditional and alternative finance sources, can owners and managers hope to secure the finance that best serves the growth ambitions of their businesses.

A close examination of debt applications clearly illustrates the difficulties faced by finance-seeking SMEs. The British Business Bank’s latest Small Business Finance Markets Report suggests that in the 18 months to June 2016, approximately eight out of ten applications for debt finance were approved. Isolate those for start-ups and this figure plummets to less than 50 per cent.

The funding options available to SMEs are more diverse than ever before, and there is a great deal that businesses can do to ensure they are finance ready. Much of this preparation should involve, where possible, reducing the risk profile of the business – over 25 per cent of debt applications are denied due to businesses not having enough security, over 20 per cent because the business owner has a poor credit rating, and approximately 15 per cent because the firm does not have enough equity or sufficient trading history. Identifying and offsetting these weaknesses is key.

Prepare early

It’s essential that SMEs begin to weigh up finance options as soon as possible, rather than delaying applications until additional funding is an urgent necessity, a move that will turn off potential funders. Before submitting an application, business owners should consider seeking advice from experts such as accountants or finance brokers, as well as utilising online finance referral platforms such as those introduced as part of the Bank Referral Scheme, Funding Options, Funding Xchange and Business Finance Compared, to assess the scope of products on offer.

One of the reasons that early-stage SMEs and start-ups find it more difficult to secure finance is that they generally have a higher risk profile than more established businesses. One way that this can be addressed is through the development of a clear business plan, including an overview of how the debt will be serviced and repaid. The plan should demonstrate a sensible level of ambition and use tangible measures to evidence growth – a strong order book and detailed costings for anticipated capital expenditure can again increase lender confidence.

Another way that businesses can demonstrate robustness to potential lenders is through resilience, or ‘bench strength’ within the leadership team. Rather than all decision making and responsibility sitting with the business owner or MD, proving that there are credible people across the business will reduce the likelihood of illness or absence causing undue disruption. Similarly, appointing additional expertise ahead of time, such as a part-time finance director, or reducing the reliance on one or two large clients through diversification can also improve how a business’ prospects are perceived.

Explore all your options

While a business owner’s first instinct may be to head down to the local bank in search of a loan, success rates can be significantly raised by also considering specialist lenders that are interested in partnering with businesses of a certain size, industry, or location. For fledgling businesses, finance organisations that focus on lending to SMEs or start-ups, such as those associated with Start Up Loans, are likely to be better equipped to support businesses with fewer assets or a shorter trading history. Similarly, local business organisations such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Growth Hubs are ideally placed to understand the market forces at place in regional business communities and advise on relevant funds. In particular, businesses may also have access to regional-specific funds such as the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Debt vs. Equity

For some businesses, especially those with a higher risk profile but significant growth ambitions, equity investment through business angels or venture capital could prove the most beneficial route. In addition to financial investment, SMEs can secure long-term advice and input from a highly-qualified and connected individual that mentors them or sits on the business’ board, often as a Non-Executive Director. To work, a good relationship between business owner and investor is essential, and often forsaking a higher business valuation or level of investment in favour of a better working partnership can be more beneficial. 

Although a notable proportion of SMEs still suffer from setbacks in the quest for finance, it’s vital that businesses reject rejection – weighing up all available options and making all necessary preparations to pave the route to success. By understanding the perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the business, as well as the range of finance spanning traditional, alternative, debt and equity, owners and MDs can reduce disruption and maximise their chances of business success and achieving growth.

Patrick Magee is Chief Commercial Officer at the British Business Bank, which is managing the delivery of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, Supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

SME owners can find a comprehensive overview of the finance options available to their business via the Business Finance Guide

Editors notes

Follow @midsenginv


Worcestershire-based @RapidRetail has secured £98k from @B_C_R_S through the #MEIF in conjunction with #CBILS.

The finance boost will help the firm, which supplies modular retail units, to fulfil orders and protect jobs.

Read more in @insiderwestmids: https://t.co/9ANR7Ho2Kn https://t.co/DdPkIEmVqg
MidsEngInv photo

#MEIF finance can be used to support buying machinery, hiring staff or expanding into new markets. A recent Early Assessment Report found that the Fund’s investment was enabling more businesses to export abroad.

Read the full report here: https://t.co/husSGZCYQu https://t.co/m3PNR6Jf0K
MidsEngInv photo

We have launched a #MEIF LinkedIn. Follow the page for the latest investment news, Fund information and support on accessing finance: https://t.co/mhwkGSoAcr https://t.co/JOSv8rnRAQ MidsEngInv photo

The @BritishBBank’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to SMEs disrupted by COVID-19. #MEIF fund managers @B_C_R_S, @FinanceSE and @1st_Enterprise join partners providing up to £5m to UK SMEs.

Find out more about #CBILS: https://t.co/2xEu9sVTmd https://t.co/7PDOSn4uUl
MidsEngInv photo

#MEIF Proof-of-Concept equity funding can help you get an idea off the ground and realise your business dream. Available via our fund manager @Mercia_PLC, find out more about this funding type here: https://t.co/mQ2yg2P91L https://t.co/zO1eTqSEvc MidsEngInv photo

Find Out More

If you would like to meet with one of our appointed Fund Managers to talk in more detail please go to Funds Available to find the Fund Managers operating in your area

Small Business Loans

£25k – £150k

Learn More
debt finance

Debt Finance

£100k – £1.5m

Learn More
equity finance

Equity Finance

£50k – £2m

Learn More

Proof of Concept

Up to £750,000

Learn More

Follow @midsenginv


Worcestershire-based @RapidRetail has secured £98k from @B_C_R_S through the #MEIF in conjunction with #CBILS.

The finance boost will help the firm, which supplies modular retail units, to fulfil orders and protect jobs.

Read more in @insiderwestmids: https://t.co/9ANR7Ho2Kn https://t.co/DdPkIEmVqg
MidsEngInv photo

#MEIF finance can be used to support buying machinery, hiring staff or expanding into new markets. A recent Early Assessment Report found that the Fund’s investment was enabling more businesses to export abroad.

Read the full report here: https://t.co/husSGZCYQu https://t.co/m3PNR6Jf0K
MidsEngInv photo

We have launched a #MEIF LinkedIn. Follow the page for the latest investment news, Fund information and support on accessing finance: https://t.co/mhwkGSoAcr https://t.co/JOSv8rnRAQ MidsEngInv photo

The @BritishBBank’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to SMEs disrupted by COVID-19. #MEIF fund managers @B_C_R_S, @FinanceSE and @1st_Enterprise join partners providing up to £5m to UK SMEs.

Find out more about #CBILS: https://t.co/2xEu9sVTmd https://t.co/7PDOSn4uUl
MidsEngInv photo

#MEIF Proof-of-Concept equity funding can help you get an idea off the ground and realise your business dream. Available via our fund manager @Mercia_PLC, find out more about this funding type here: https://t.co/mQ2yg2P91L https://t.co/zO1eTqSEvc MidsEngInv photo

For the latest news and views join our mailing list

Join our mailing list

Just add your details below to receive the latest Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund news and information