Small Business Loans Bristol

Bristol-based SMEs seeking a small business loan to provide working capital, pay taxes, buy vehicles and machinery, or to fund business expansion, have many types of loan to choose from.

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Borrow from a few £thousand up to £5million. Pay the loan back over weeks, months, or years. 

Read on to learn more about:

  • Bristol small business loans
  • Bristol business grants
  • Alternative business financing options
  • The credit score you’ll need
  • Applying for a business loan in Bristol

What types of small business loans are available in Bristol?

Business owners are spoilt for choice when it comes to small business loans in Bristol. While some loans have specific purposes, such as paying VAT, others can be used for any business expenditure. 


If you’re launching a new business in Bristol, you may be eligible for a startup loan – seed funds to get a new venture up and running. As well as private lenders, Government funds are also available for this type of loan. Security may be required.

Working capital loans

Working capital loans pay for expenses like wages, fuel bills, stock and raw materials and more. In some cases, added security may be required.  

Working capital loans for Bristol SMEs include:

Small business loan

Works like a traditional bank loan. Borrow from £1,000 to £500,000. Repay the loan in a few months or over several years. Security may be required.

Invoice finance 

Stop waiting 30, 60, 90 days or more for customers to pay their bills. Receive the cash tied up in your outstanding invoices as soon as you raise them. You retain control of your sales ledger. Clients need never know you are using your invoices to raise funds. No added security is required.

Revolving line of credit 

Works like a standard bank overdraft. Dip into an agreed credit limit as and when you need funds, then pay the loan back as your business revenues come in. Security may be required.

Merchant cash advance

Businesses that accept customer credit and debit cards can borrow against the value of their card sales. As your card sales increase, your borrowing limit goes up. No security required.

Business credit cards 

Business credit cards work the same as personal credit cards, but are in the name of the business, not an individual. Business cards typically have a higher credit limit than personal accounts and higher interest rates than other forms of business borrowing. Security may be required. 

Loans to cover expansion costs

Cover the costs of business expansion with a commercial mortgage, development or bridging loanUse the funds to pay for refurbishments and extensions to your operating premises. Borrow up to 90% of the project cost. Repay the funds over 1 – 30 years. The property acts as security for the loan.

Buying equipment such as vehicles, plant, and machinery

Vehicles and major pieces of equipment can be expensive and buying them with cash can seriously hurt your cashflow. However, asset finance can absorb the financial impact. Buy vehicles, plant and machinery over time. Use the equipment as you pay for the equipment. In many cases, the asset acts as security for the loan and there is no need to provide extra collateral.

Franchise finance

Joining a franchise allows entrepreneurs to become part of a well-known brand, enjoy centralised marketing support, and have fast access to products and equipment. However, buying into a major franchise group can be very expensive, and few franchisors offer funding to cover the startup costs. A franchise loan allows you borrow from £1,000 to £5million to get you on the franchise ladder. Security may be required.

VAT loans

Paying your VAT bill late can leave you facing penalties and interest from HMRC. VAT loans are designed to help you pay your tax on time. Avoid penalties and give your business cashflow a boost. The lender pays HMRC direct. Repay the loan over 3, 6, 9, or 12 months.

Commercial mortgages

A commercial mortgage in Bristol is a type of loan that enables businesses to purchase commercial property or land within the city. Unlike unsecured business loans, which have a maximum limit of £250,000, commercial mortgages are better suited for businesses requiring financing between £50,000 and £25,000,000.

Similar to a residential mortgage, the borrowed amount is typically obtained from a bank or specialised lender and repaid through monthly instalments over a fixed term with added interest. However, the value of the property or land is typically higher with a commercial mortgage compared to a residential one.

If you’re considering obtaining a commercial mortgage in Bristol, our expert team is available to discuss your requirements. Contact us today to learn more.

How do I find a business grant in Bristol?

Business grants are not loans. They do not need to be repaid, nor do they require security. However, business grants are typically slow to secure, come with tight eligibility rules and may have severe restrictions on their use.

Find a Bristol business grant at: 

What alternative business financing options are there?

As well as loans and grants there are other ways to finance your business. These options vary significantly in scope, rules and restrictions, and the level of lender participation. SMEs are therefore advised to conduct due diligence before accepting any kind of alternative finance.

  • Angel investment: Capital for businesses, including startups, usually provided in exchange for convertible debt (a loan that can be converted to shares), or for shares in the business.
  • Venture capital: Private equity financing that is provided by venture capital firms or funds to startups, early-stage, and emerging companies that have high growth potential, or which have already demonstrated high growth.
  • Microloans: Very small loans to borrowers who typically lack collateral, steady employment, or a verifiable credit history. Designed to support entrepreneurship. Also includes Peer to Peer loans, where private individuals provide funds directly to small businesses or other individuals. Interest rates on microloans can be more expensive than other types of borrowing.
  • Crowdfunding: Fund a project or venture by raising money with many small donations from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Funds raised are not a loan and do not need to be repaid as long as you use them for the purposes described in your presentation.

How to apply for a loan in Bristol

Applying for a small business loan in Bristol is typically straightforward. Virtually all lenders will require the following information:

  • Last three-years bank and tax records. (Business account for established businesses,  personal account for entrepreneurs launching a new small business).
  • Cashflow forecast.
  • Profit and Loss Statement and recent Balance Sheet. (Established businesses).
  • Details of any existing debt.
  • List of major customers and suppliers.
  • List of any assets, such as property or inventory.
  • Business plan – as detailed as possible. (If you are unfamiliar with this, you should consider hiring a business advisor to help produce your plan).

Top Tip: Some lenders may ask for a personal guarantee by the business owners or directors to secure the loan. If they do, they will check their personal credit scores. Don’t get caught out by an error on your credit report, always check your business and personal credit scores before you apply.

What credit score do I need to get a business loan in Bristol?

The credit score you need to qualify for a business loan in Bristol will vary depending on the lender and type of loan you choose. In many cases, a score over 600 will be required to get a fast approval. However, even if  you have bad credit, or you’ve been turned down elsewhere, it may still be possible to secure the funds you need.

What are the typical interest rates in Bristol?

Typical interest rates on business loans in Bristol range from 4% to 15% APR

How long does it take to get funds?

Some loans will fund within a few days, while others (such as development loan), will take much longer. One to three weeks to receive your funds is typical, but the timing will vary from lender to lender and the type of loan you choose.

How to find the right small business loan in Bristol

There are many types of small business loan, with differing rules of application. Bristol business owners seeking funds may find themselves forever searching and making applications to lender after lender. The delays this can create could cause you to lose revenues and leave your business vulnerable to the competition. Instead, working with a broker, who can access small business loans from a wide range of lenders is a better way to go. No more cold calls and endless demands for information, simply tell us what you need and leave the rest to us. 

Get started with Swoop

Give your business the funds it needs to thrive. Register with Swoop to find the best rates, the best terms and the best small business loans in Bristol.

Written by

Chris Godfrey

Chris is a freelance copywriter and content creator. He has been active in the marketing, advertising, and publishing industries for more than twenty-five years. Writing for Barclays Bank, Metro Bank, Wells Fargo, ABN Amro, Quidco, Legal and General, Inshur Zego, AIG, Met Life, State Farm, Direct Line, insurers and pension funds, his words have appeared online and in print to inform, entertain and explain the complex world of consumer and business finance and insurance.

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