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Bank loans and overdrafts
The first port of call that most people think about when trying to obtain finance is their own bank. Banks are very active in this market and seek out businesses to whom they can lend money. Of the two methods of giving you finance, the banks, especially in small and start-up situations, invariably prefer to give you an overdraft or extend your limit rather than make a formal loan. Overdrafts are a very flexible form of finance which, with a healthy income in your business, can be paid off more quickly than a formal loan. If, during the period you are financing the overdraft, an investment opportunity arises, then you could look to extend the options on your overdraft facility to finance the project.
Many businesses appreciate the advantages of a fixed term loan. They have the comforting knowledge that the regular payments to be made on the loan make cash flow forecasting and budgeting more certain. They also feel that, with a term loan, the bank is more committed to their business for the whole term of the loan. An overdraft can be called in but, unless you are failing to make payments on your loan, the banks cannot take the finance away from you.
Many smaller loans will not require any security but, if more substantial amounts of money are required, then the bank will certainly ask for some form of security. It is common for business owners to offer their own homes as security although more risk-averse borrowers may prefer not to do this. Anyone offering their house as security should consult with any co-owners so that they are fully aware of the situation and of any possible consequences. Another source of security may be the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme. Start-up business unable to provide any other form of security may be able to get a guarantee for loans up to £1,000,000. Under the scheme, you pay a 2% premium on the outstanding balance of the loan, and in return, the government guarantees to repay the bank (or other lender) up to 75% of the loan if you default.