Unsecured Business Loans - Your Alternative Options

by Andrew Knowles

If you're a business owner unsure about what's your best option for an unsecured business loan, you're not alone in being uncertain. On the face of it, there's an overwhelming choice of business loan providers, along with many different types of loan. How do you know what's right for you?The last thing you want is to sign up to a finance agreement only to discover:
  • It costs you more than you expected.
  • It's not as flexible as you hoped.
  • You can't repay early without paying penalties.
To avoid problems like these, it pays to plan ahead and to assess your options carefully.Here are some alternative forms of business finance, not all of which are unsecured loans.

The traditional business loan from your bank

Years ago bank managers were open to taking a risk on lending money to business owners. But as layers of regulation have been added over the last few years, the historic banks have become more cautious about who they will support by providing finance. Even opening a business bank account is much more difficult than it used to be.

While regulation provides important protections to both finance providers and borrowers, the historic banks often add to this bureaucracy with their own internal processes and requirements. While these loans are usually unsecured, the bank wants some form of personal guarantee from the directors.

That said, every year businesses raise working capital by borrowing millions of pounds from the long-established banks, usually through fixed-term loans.

Borrowing from your friends and family

For many business owners, particularly those launching a new business, friends and family are the initial source of finance. This has its advantages, including:
  • Often at a lower cost than a commercial rate of interest.
  • Repayment options can be more flexible.
  • Any interest or fees are kept inside your friends and family community.
While this approach offers a host of benefits, there are also potential risks to this informal approach to business finance. The lender could suddenly need some or all of their money back to cover an unanticipated need, or the business may not be able to meet the agreed repayments.

Personal relationships between friends and family can be put under pressure through these arrangements, if they are not managed well or if the business fails to perform as expected.

Asset finance

You could fund the purchase of a specific business asset - such as a building or a vehicle - using asset finance. This is a loan that's linked specifically to that asset and is usually secured against it. Should you fail to make the agreed repayments, the lender has legal rights to recover some of their money by taking control of the asset.

Secured loans, such as these, often take a little longer to set up because the process needs to include valuation of the asset and preparation of additional documentation. Your business can also use asset finance to release capital from an asset it already owns. Many finance providers are willing to advance cash against the value of an asset, even when it's been in use for a while.

The funding is repaid from future income that asset helps the business to generate.

Invoice finance or merchant cash advances

Both invoice finance and merchant cash advances are methods of boosting your working capital based on the value of your sales. Rather than receiving a lump sum of cash, as you do with a loan or similar form of finance, you get a rolling injection of smaller amounts of cash, in line with your sales. As turnover grows, the value of these injections can grow.

Invoice finance is suitable for businesses that sell on credit. When you raise an invoice that's due in, say, 30 days, the invoice finance provider pays you a high percentage of the value of the invoice. You benefit by effectively being paid a few weeks in advance - which improves your cashflow.

A merchant cash advance is more appropriate where you sell a considerable amount through credit and debit cards. You can get an advance based on the level of card sales you've enjoyed in the past.

Both these forms of finance help to improve your cashflow, but they're not designed to raise the large amount of capital you may need to invest in a new business growth project.

Investment finance

Whether it's through an angel investor, or venture capitalists, or some other arrangement, investment finance is where someone puts money into your business in return for a share of ownership. This means it's not a business loan, but typically a longer-term commitment with the intention of helping you to grow the business.

The finance may come with additional support, such as business advice and mentoring from someone with greater experience.

The investor typically expects to get their money back, and more, when the business has grown in value and their share is worth more. This may occur when you sell the business, which allows all the investors to capitalise on the money they put in.

The benefit of investment finance is that there are often no regular repayments to budget for, and the cash could come with additional support. The downsides include the dilution of ownership, and the possibility that the investor wants some element of control over how the business is operated.


The digital revolution has made it much easier for businesses to raise finance from the wider community, through crowdfunding hubs. These hubs allow people to invest often a relatively small amount of capital into a project. These amounts are aggregated together, giving the business a sizeable fund it can invest in growth.

Crowdfunding comes in various forms. It's popular with startups, particularly those who can establish a connection with a community of people interested in seeing particular ideas turned into viable products, such as video games or new technologies. Peer-to-peer funding networks also work on crowdfunding principles, but are generally more structured and offer more protection to those putting their money in.

Unsecured business finance from Qardus

If you're a business owner, if that business is profitable and if you're serious about growing it, we want to hear from you.

We've supported a wide range of businesses through our unsecured finance product. It's a community-based alternative to an unsecured business loan, and it's rooted in an ethical approach to commercial finance.

If you're considering taking out a business loan and you're open to exploring something that gives you all the same benefits and flexibility, and is also competitively priced, please get in touch with us today.  

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