The Start Up Loan scheme is a government backed initiative offering flexible personal loans for business, which come with FREE business mentoring.
The loan is available to those at pre-start stage or trading under 2 years. Fashion Angel is the only Delivery Partner specialising in helping fashion, accessory and jewellery businesses and to date we’ve helped over 300 entrepreneurs access the loan, including womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, maternity, footwear, swimwear, sportswear,streetwear, athleisure,millinery, jewellery, online platforms and many more.
Following the steps below, will increase your chances of getting a Start Up Loan approved:-
1. Failing to plan is planning to fail
Starting a business isn’t easy, and we look for a well thought out business plan,which shows us you understand all the different aspects of setting up and running the business and how you’ll make it actually happen. A business plan also acts as your own roadmap to monitor your progress against. It doesn’t need to be too long – a side of A4 for each section is usually enough. Don’t worry – we give you an easy to understand template to work from.
2. Do the research
Understanding the market you are planning to go in to is essential for all businesses and we like to see that you are an expert in your field. This typically includes general research into your own market segment, profiling your customer/s and scrutinising your competitors. The British Library’s network of Business and IP Centres are a great resource – they have fashion specific market research databases (which usually cost £1000’s to buy) which you can access for free.
Unless you have invented something unique, you’ll have competitors, and you should ‘stalk’ them to learn from their business model and marketing strategies. This will also help you identify the price points you need to sell at to meet your target customers’ expectations, and identify your own competitive edge. Don’t be afraid of competition – it shows there’s a market for your type of product.
3. Understand your customers
Most products are an emotional purchase, not a necessity; therefore you need to understand your target customers and what would motivate them to buy your products. This includes their demographics, lifestyle, disposable income and interests. This information will help your range planning and marketing strategies. You may have several different target customers so you should create personas for each one. If you are planning to sell to retail shops, then you should research how and what they buy.
4. Establish a Unique Selling Point (USP)
In a crowded market place your brand has to be able to stand above the parapet and get noticed. You have to have a clear and consistent USP, brand messaging & personality to distinguish yourself from your competitors. You can’t please all the people all the time, so better to have a tight focus, with that target customer in mind, at least to start with.
5. Show us your sales strategy
We’ll need to know how you plan to sell your products – is it wholesale ie selling to retail shops? If so, you need to identify the relevant retailers that might want to buy your products. If planning to sell direct to the consumer, how? It’s likely you’ll want to set up an e-commerce store but be creative and think of other retail opportunities e.g selling at specialist events, pop up shops, networking parties, online marketplaces etc.. Remember it’s much easier to sell face to face than online, and helps build your brand.
6. Create a marketing plan
You can have the most amazing brand, but if no one knows about it you won’t sell anything. Depending on the sales strategy, you need to create a marketing plan that encompasses all the different marketing activities you may adopt, and sets out how you will promote your products whether its via social media, advertising, reaching out to influencers, direct marketing ect. You can then allocate an appropriate budget.
If you don’t know where to buy your stock, or get you products made, you won’t know what your costs prices are, and therefore what your potential profit margins will be. You’ll likely need to approach a number of suppliers to get quotes so you can assess who can give you the quality, quantity and within the timescales you need.
7. Understand your direct product costs
You can only do that once you’ve sourced your suppliers, but when working this out, don’t forget to include the cost of any shipping, insurance, packaging and sales commissions, if applicable.
9. Present a credible cash flow forecast (CFF)
The above elements of the business plan tell the ‘story’, but this then has to be translated in to figures. A cash flow maps out the flow of money coming in and out of your bank account, when it’s likely to happen. The flow in will include the Start Up Loan and any other investment, as well as monthly sales forecasts. The flow out includes direct costs (to make the product) and ongoing fixed costs/overheads including product development, staff, rent, marketing, website, legal costs and loan repayments. The cash flow is our key tool for assessing the appropriate level of funding and viability of the business idea. Again, don’t worry; we give you a template for this too!
10. Show us your passion
Whilst the business plan is our key tool to review an application, you can’t underestimate how important it is to show us that you have the passion and drive to do whatever it takes to make the business a success.
You can check out some of the amazing entrepreneurs we have worked with on our success stories page! If you follow our guide, there’s a good chance we can make your dream business a reality too!
By Alison Lewy MBE
‘The loan application process was smooth and I received all the information that I needed before and after applying for the Start Up loan’. Rachael Attwood, Great British Baby Company
‘Fashion Angel are quick and efficient and as a designer by trade, they offer much needed support on the business and trading side of starting up and running my business’.