Compare loans to buy a business UK

If you’re interested in buying an existing business, you might be able to use a loan to help you.

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Compare acquisition business loans

Table: sorted by loan terms, promoted deals first

Name Product Finder Score Loan type Loan amounts Loan terms Turnover/trading criteria Key benefit
Tide Business Loan
Finder Award
Tide Business Loan
4.0
β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Fixed or variable rate loan
Β£500 to Β£500,000
1 month to 72 months
No specified minimum turnover or time trading
Connect your business bank account and gain access to business loans (Terms & Conditions apply).
Nest Unsecured Business Loan
4.0
β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Fixed rate Unsecured loan
Β£10,000 to Β£5,000,000
No specified loan terms
Β£200,000 minimum turnover,
minimum 12 months trading
Tide Start-up Loan
Finder Award
Tide Start-up Loan
3.5
β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Fixed rate loan
Β£500 to Β£100,000
12 to 60 months
No specified minimum turnover,
maximum 36 months trading
Connect your business bank account and gain access to business loans (Terms & Conditions apply).
6% APR representative (fixed).
Barclays Secured and Unsecured Business Loans
4.5
β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Fixed or variable rate loans
From Β£1,000
12 to 240 months
No specified minimum turnover or time trading
Subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history. Other terms may be available.
mycashline Small Business Loans
4.0
β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
Fixed rate Unsecured loan
Β£5,000 to Β£100,000
1 month to 24 months
Β£15,000 monthly minimum turnover,
minimum 12 months trading
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If you fancy running your own business, you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. If you’ve spotted an existing business up for sale in a sector that you have experience in, buying it could enable you to work for yourself without the risks of running a startup.

However, the big drawback is that you’ll need to find the funds to help you cover the cost of the purchase. If you don’t have enough in personal savings, you’ll likely need to borrow money through a loan.

What is a business acquisition loan?

A business acquisition loan is simply a loan designed to help entrepreneurs buy another business or buy out the owners and stakeholders of a business they already work at.

Business acquisition loans can refer to different borrowing types, whether that’s a term loan, asset financing or mezzanine finance.

Types of business loan available

There are a number of different types of business loans to consider. These are outlined below:

Secured loan

With a secured loan, you need to provide an asset, such as property, as security against the loan. This means your lender can repossess that asset and sell it to recoup its money if you are unable to repay the loan. Because this type of loan is less risky for the lender, interest rates can be lower. Borrowing amounts are usually higher too, and loan terms are longer.

You’ll typically find it easier to get accepted for a secured loan, even if you don’t have the best credit history.

Unsecured loan

An unsecured loan doesn’t require you to secure it against an asset, making it less risky for the borrower. However, borrowing amounts tend to be lower compared to secured loans and loan terms are often shorter. Because unsecured loans are riskier for the lender, interest rates are usually higher too.

Be aware that in some cases, you might be required to sign a personal guarantee. This is a legal agreement that means you, as the business owner, are personally liable for the loan repayments if the business cannot repay the loan.

Many high street banks, as well as online lenders, offer secured and unsecured business loans.

Mezzanine finance

Mezzanine finance is a fairly complex form of business loan. It’s a type of loan that can be converted into equity if the borrower cannot repay the loan. Often, they are interest-only loans, but interest rates can be high.

Asset finance

Asset finance lets you use the assets of the new business as security for the loan. Assets can include stock, equipment and property. If you’re an existing business owner, you might be able to use assets of both your current and new business as security.

In many cases, the lender buys the assets from you and you then purchase them back through monthly repayments. If you can’t keep up with your monthly repayments, you risk losing these assets.

Asset finance.

Invoice finance

You might be able to use invoice finance to partially fund your business purchase. You borrow against the future income of the business, and rather than waiting until your invoices are paid, your lender advances you a large percentage of the invoice value upfront – typically up to 95%.

When the invoices are due, your lender collects the amount owed directly from the customer. The lender then deducts its fees and charges before paying you the remaining balance.

Invoice finance.

Commercial mortgage

If you’re looking to buy a business premises, you’ll need a commercial mortgage. These work in a similar way to residential mortgages, as you’ll borrow a lump sum to be repaid in monthly instalments over a set term, with interest added. However, you’ll typically need a larger deposit of between 20% and 40% of the property’s value.

Who is eligible for a loan to acquire a business?

Exact eligibility criteria can vary depending on the lender and loan type. However, as a general rule, you’ll need a good credit history – although some loans, such as secured loans, might have more lenient eligibility criteria. If you don’t have much of a business credit history, lenders will likely look at your personal credit score.

Lenders will also want to check that the business you’re buying is viable and will need to assess the value of assets or property. This can take a few weeks. If you have an existing business, the lender will also want to know about its financial health.

What documents will I need to show the lender?

When applying for a business loan, you’ll usually need to provide the following documents:

  • Financial projections outlining expected future trade
  • 2 years of accounts for the business
  • Bank statements – this could be both business and personal bank statements
  • A detailed business plan showing how you will develop the acquired business
  • Information about existing assets and outstanding debts

Benefits and disadvantages of using a loan to buy a business

If you’re planning on using a loan to buy a business, it’s good practice to research the pros and cons.

Advantages

  • It can enable you to expand and grow the business more quickly
  • Existing employees will have experience you can draw on
  • There might already be an existing customer base, a reliable income and a useful network of contacts you can tap into
  • It might be easier to borrow further funds in the future if the business has a proven track record
  • Buying an existing business with strong cash flow is less risky compared to starting a brand-new company

Disadvantages

  • There will likely be a number of fees to pay, including solicitors’ and accountants’ fees
  • If the business has been neglected, you might need to invest additional funds on top of the loan to help it succeed
  • Staff morale might be low with a new boss in place or the business might have been run poorly
  • You might need to honour any outstanding contracts left in place by the previous owner

How can I compare business loans?

The easiest way to compare business loans is by using an online price comparison tool. Make sure you look at factors such as the interest rate charged, the length of the loan, as well as any fees you’ll need to pay.

Keep in mind that a longer loan term can help bring down the cost of your monthly repayments, but also means you’ll pay more in interest overall, making it more expensive. Choosing a shorter loan term reduces the total amount payable, but it’s crucial to check your monthly repayments would be affordable.

Alternative financing options to buy a business

Some of the alternative options to consider include:

  • Borrowing from family and friends. You could ask family members and friends whether they have any funds they would be happy to invest in your business. This can be a much cheaper and more flexible option, but the relationship can quickly turn sour if things go wrong. For this reason, it’s important to draw up a written agreement outlining whether the money is a loan, gift or investment and, where applicable, how repayments will be made and over what term. Also, add a statement about what happens if you cannot keep up with your repayments.
  • Crowdfunding. This enables you to raise funds for your business from several investors. You will need to list your business on an online platform where investors and members of the public can buy shares in your company. You’ll need to decide how much money you require and create a campaign to show why you need the investment.
  • Angel investors. These are high-net-worth private individuals who are happy to invest their own funds in a business in return for a minority stake, say between 10% and 25%. They might offer a one-off investment or several cash injections spread out over time.
  • Peer-to-peer lending. This type of loan matches those who need to borrow money with those with money to invest – usually via an online platform. Because no banks are involved, interest rates are typically more competitive.
  • Personal funds. If you’re lucky enough to have sufficient cash in the bank, you could simply buy your business with your own money.

Bottom line

There are many advantages to buying an existing business rather than setting up your own company from scratch. However, it’s important to carefully consider how you’ll fund the purchase of the business and weigh the different options available to you. Also, ensure you have a good understanding of the business’ financial situation so you know where improvements can be made and how the business can grow.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables is provided by Moneyfacts.

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