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Finance your business

Once you’ve developed your business plan, you should have a clear understanding of the amount of money needed to start and run your business.  

Finding the right finance to kick start your new business can be a challenge, but we can help to navigate you through the maze of funding options.  It all starts with a well-developed business plan. This will give you a clear picture of the amount of money you need to launch your business…. and keep it running.

Ways to finance your business

So you’re ready to start your business? Your next step is to consider how you are going to finance it.  There are many different sources of finance – the trick is to find the one that best suits your needs. Here are some you might wish to examine:

  • Bank loan
  • Investment
  • Enterprise NI Start Up Loan Fund
  • NI Small Business Loan Fund
  • Rural Partnership Funding
  • Business rates assistance
Credit: NI Business Info

Bank loan

Borrowing from your bank is convenient and accessible as banks usually have a number of loan options geared towards small businesses. These tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards and private equity lenders, plus you’ll enjoy tax benefits from the interest paid on your loan. Another benefit is that banks don’t take a share of your business –they are only concerned with collecting the interest in addition to the loan principal. On the downside, getting a startup loan approved from your bank can be difficult and time consuming. And remember that business loans from a bank are usually secured by some kind of collateral, often your home.


Angel investors provide financial backing for early stage and start-up businesses in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. Business angels often go beyond investment and lend their business expertise to younger firms. But remember that if you hand over a slice of your start-up, you are essentially waving goodbye to a chunk of your future earnings. Aside from Angels, your friends, family and contacts can also be an invaluable source of funding and knowledge.

Enterprise NI Start Up Loan Fund

If you are starting your own business or have just setup within the past 24 months, Enterprise NI fund offers loans of up to £15,000 with a flexible term up to 5 years. There are no arrangement fees or early settlement penalties. You can also enjoy up to a maximum 15 hours mentoring support*.

For more information and to find out if you are eligible please visit the Enterprise Northern Ireland website.

NI Small Business Loan Fund

The NI Small Business Loan Fund provides loans for individuals, private companies and social enterprises in the SME and micro enterprise size range, operating in the start-up and/or growth phases of development.

The Fund has recently been re-launched, with additional funding available for new applications. There is a maximum loan amount of £15,000 for start-up enterprises, with potential for follow-on lending up to a maximum on £50,000. Existing businesses can now apply for loans of up to £100,000, which is double the maximum level the programme formerly provided. 

Finance can be provided for:

  • Working capital: money required to meet the day to day costs of running the business
  • Development finance: money required to expand the business, for example marketing
  • Commercial premises
  • Plant and machinery
  • Intangible Assets
  • Gaps in funding working capital where commercial funding sources (e.g. overdrafts and invoice finance) cannot provide the full requirement
  • Stock purchases
  • International trade

Rural Development Funding

Are you looking to expand or develop your rural business within Ards and North Down?

For any enquiries on future Rural Development funding opportunities please contact the Rural Development Team by email at or by telephone on 0300 013 3333 (Ext 40918 or 40919).

Rural Partners Logo

Help available for business rates

Some businesses may benefit from rates relief. Current support schemes include:

  • Residential Homes Rate Relief
  • Non-Domestic Vacant Rating
  • Small Business Rate Relief
  • Back in Business rate support
  • Charitable Exemption
  • Sport and Recreation Rate Relief
  • Industrial Derating
  • Hardship Relief

To find out if you can avail of any of these support schemes contact Land & Property Services (LPS) and complete the relevant application. Make sure you continue to pay your rates while LPS considers your application. If you don’t do so, you could end up having to pay a large amount in one go, should your application be unsuccessful. If your application is successful, LPS will refund any rates you have over paid.

Get more information on financing your business

Contact the Economic Development Team on 0300 013 3333 (ext 40956). Alternatively email Maura Bettes for help and advice.