Compare sole trader business loans with Funding Options by Tide

Discover sole trader business loans. Get matched with over 120 lending providers offering between £1000 and £20M.

Get Finance
Compare sole trader business loans with Funding Options by Tide

Data recently released by the government shows that of the 5.5 million small-to-medium businesses based in the UK, 75% were sole traders. The decision to be a sole trader or limited company is a personal one but it’s easy to see why so many small business owners have chosen to maintain sole trader status – less paperwork, less admin, and your private records stay just that – private. 

But while filing taxes may be a little easier as a sole trader, when it comes to seed money, government grants, and business loans, being self-employed can occasionally put you at a disadvantage. And with inconsistent cash flow and personal liability proving a struggle for many sole traders, this limited access to funding can become a problem. 

Enter sole trader business loans.

What are sole trader business loans 

Sole trader loans are a type of business loan designed to provide self-employed people with funding to help support their business. The loan is taken out in your name, so you are responsible for any repayments.

Here’s everything you need to know about business loans for self-employed individuals, including how much you can borrow and whether or not you’re eligible to apply.  

A few key definitions 

Here are some terms you might come across as a sole trader seeking business loans: 

  • Cash flow: This is your business’s liquidity. How much money you currently have access to, as well as how much is coming in and going out on a regular basis.  

  • Collateral: This is an asset you can place up as security against a loan.

  • Credit score: A number lenders use to assess the likelihood you will repay loans. 

  • Personal guarantee: Applying as a sole trader rather than a limited company may mean you are asked to provide a personal guarantee, which means you are personally liable for the debt. 

  • Loan term: The length of time over which you will repay the loan.   

Why sole traders sometimes need business loans

Business loans help sole traders manage the initial start-up costs of building their business, bridge cash flow gaps, invest in growth opportunities, and manage any surprise financial challenges. 

What’s the difference between business loans for sole traders and a limited company loan?

While a sole trader loan is taken out by the individual (so the individual is responsible for the repayments) a limited company loan is taken out by the company, meaning the company is responsible for the debts, repayments, and liabilities.

In the first instance, all responsibility falls on you and your personal finances are used to assess affordability.

On the other hand, company records are usually used to assess affordability when applying for company loans, however, this is not always the case, as sometimes, like when a company is under six months old, company loans can still require a personal guarantee.

What can I use a small business loan for sole traders for?

Anything that relates to the operations or growth of your business. Different loan types support different purchases. For example, a sole trader credit card supports day to day purchases, such as paper clips or printer paper, whereas a sole trader vehicle lease can help you gain access to a car, truck, or van.

How much can I borrow?

If you leverage a broker like Funding Options by Tide, you could be eligible to borrow between £1,000 and £20M.

The different types of sole trader loans available

Sole trader business loans can be either short-term or long-term, depending on the lender and needs. Short-term loans can be used to manage cash flow, whereas long term loans can be used to gain access to assets. There are two core types of sole trader loans available, these are:

  • Secured: A secured business loan is taken out against an asset. An example of a secured loan is a mortgage. In this case, the property is the asset against which the loan is secured and if you miss repayments, the lender may repossess the property.

  • Unsecured: An unsecured loan is taken out without collateral. Unsecured loans sometimes require personal guarantees. This is a good option if you do not own any assets, however, this option can be more pricey when compared to secured loans. An example of an unsecured loan is an overdraft. With an overdraft, the institution you bank with allows you to borrow a limited amount of money which you can tap into once you have depleted your account. 

As you can likely already deduce from these two examples, you can usually get more funding, spread over a longer period, with more favourable interest rates when applying for a secured business loan over an unsecured business loan.

These two main types of self-employed business loans are then split up into a range of financing options for sole traders, including:

  • Asset finance: With asset finance, you can spread the cost over a set period when you purchase or lease equipment, vehicles, or technology.

  • Bridging loans: A bridging loan is a short-term loan designed to bridge the gap between purchasing a property and finding funding, for example, getting accepted for a mortgage or the sale of the property going through.

  • Invoice finance: Need to release the money from unpaid invoices? Invoice finance enhances cash flow by giving you access to that money now, rather than in 30, 60, or 90 days.

  • Credit cards: Business credit cards can be used day-to-day to make purchases. The funds are then paid back in at the end of each month.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are also alternative lending options available, including: 

  • Lines of credit: This type of loan provides flexible access to funding, you get a pre-approved borrowing limit and only pay interest on what you use. Lines of credit suit short term working capital needs. 

  • Microloans: There’s a reason these are called micro. They are smaller loans and can be easier to access and qualify for than traditional bank loans. These types of loans can provide a great way to make inventory purchases or inject money into marketing efforts. 

  • Peer-to-peer lending: With P2P lending, you can borrow money from individual investors, usually this type of lending occurs on an online platform. 

The core benefits of sole trader business loans

Sole trader loans provide lots of benefits, including: 

  • Cash flow management: Seasonal fluctuations can have a big impact on cash flow, making it hard to stay on top of essential expenses. Business loans can smooth out these fluctuations.  

  • Enhance business growth: With business loans, you can jump on new growth opportunities, purchase additional inventory to expand, and market your business to a wider audience. 

How to qualify for a sole trader business loan 

Eligibility varies depending on the lending provider. The best way to find out if you’re eligible is to get a quote here. Getting a quote won’t affect your credit score and if you are eligible, we’ll help connect you to our network of over 120 lenders.

While the following list isn’t exhaustive, here are a few items that can improve your eligibility chances for business financing for sole traders:

  • You’re a UK resident and are over 18

  • Your personal credit score is fair or above

  • You want to use the loan for business purposes

  • You pass affordability checks

  • You’ve been trading for longer than six months

  • You’ve submitted at least one self-assessment tax return

  • You have an asset you’d like to put up as security if seeking a larger loan

  • You do not trade in gambling, porn, or weapons

If you do not meet the above requirements that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a sole trader business loan. These are just some areas lenders look at when considering eligibility. Sole trader loan requirements may include presenting a business plan.  

How to improve your chances of qualifying 

  • Improve your credit score: Paying your bills and loans on time can help boost your credit score, improving your chances of getting additional funding. 

  • Gather all necessary documentation: Gather your tax returns, financial statements, business plan, and identification documents together before applying to speed up the process. 

  • Compare lenders: Different lenders have different requirements, use a broker like Funding Options by Tide to find the lender most suited to your needs. 

Is it hard to get a sole trader loan?

Getting accepted for a loan as a self-employed individual is usually harder than getting accepted for a limited company loan, but don’t let this dissuade you.

At Funding Options by Tide, we help you get started with your sole trader loan application by matching you with over 120 lenders. We’ll help you find the most suitable lender and our support team is here if you need to talk about your personal circumstances. You can even apply for a sole trader loan if you have bad credit.

To find loans for sole traders, just click here and submit your information.

How to apply for a business loan as a sole trader 

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to applying for a business loan as a sole trader. 

  • Assess your financial health by looking at your credit score, payment history, and affordability. 

  • Consider any outstanding debts you can pay off now to boost your application. 

  • Use a broker like Funding Options by Tide to find a suitable lender. 

  • Compare interest rates, eligibility, terms and conditions, and online reviews of the available lenders to determine which lender you’d like to leverage. 

  • Gather all necessary documentation and put together a business plan if required. 

  • Submit your application, ensuring all information is up to date and correct. 

  • The lender will review your application by assessing your creditworthiness and affordability. If you’re applying for asset financing of some form, they may assess the asset too. 

  • If approved, the funds will be released to your account. 

Timeline of what to expect

The timeline varies greatly depending on the lender and what you are purchasing. For example, applying for an overdraft at the institution you currently bank with could take only a few minutes, with a decision being made and the funds being extended to you within the hour. On the other hand, applying for a start-up loan could take several months. 

Here are some general timelines for standard applications. 

  • 1-2 weeks: Researching lenders, deciding on the lender most suited to your needs, and preparing your application. 

  • 2-3 weeks: Loan submission, application, and approval. 

  • 2-5 days: Funds hit your account. 

Advice on choosing the right lender 

Using a broker like Funding Options by Tide can show you which lenders are available for you to use. We show you how much you’re eligible to borrow and match you to our network of lenders. When deciding on the right lender, look at the terms and conditions of each, compare their interest rates, and review any testimonials online. 

What should your business plan include?

Your business plan should outline your target market, any strengths and weaknesses, your unique selling proposition, competitive advantages, and your financial goals and projections. Use your plan to demonstrate your ability to repay the loan. 

A few tips on navigating the process 

Applying for a sole trader loan doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Just focus on one step at a time, gather together all your documentation (including bank statements and proof of income), and reply to any queries from the lender promptly. If you ever do feel overwhelmed, feel free to chat to our support team. 

Some costs and risks of sole trader business loans

You should always be aware of any potential risks before seeking financing solutions. For sole trader business loans, these costs and risks include: 

  • Interest rates: Most loans and financing options come with interest rates, which is the cost of borrowing, calculated as a percentage of the loan amount. 

  • Fees: Late payment can result in fees. 

  • Personal liability: You are personally liable for the loan repayment and your assets and personal credits score may be at risk if you default. 

Looking for finance?

Let us help you find the best financial product in the market. We will guide you through the whole process and make sure you get the best deal.

See your Funding Options

Comparing the costs of different lenders

Interest rates aren’t the only thing to compare when considering which lender to choose. Consider the late repayment fees, APR, total cost of borrowing, any final balloon payments, processing fees, administration costs, and any legal fees you may be charged if you default. 

Looking for finance?

Let us help you find the best financial product in the market. We will guide you through the whole process and make sure you get the best deal.

See your Funding Options

How to mitigate risks

Taking on a business loan involves inherent risks, but here are some tips to help you mitigate these risks: 

  • Assess the lender thoroughly before agreeing to a loan. Always read the terms and conditions. 

  • Build an emergency fund. 

  • Set up direct debits or standing orders to ensure repayments are made in a timely manner. 

  • If you are worried about repaying the loan, always communicate openly with your lender. 

Looking for finance?

Let us help you find the best financial product in the market. We will guide you through the whole process and make sure you get the best deal.

See your Funding Options

Up and coming trends in business loans for sole traders

It’s an exciting time for lending – there are lots of new promising products and services being offered and as a sole trader seeking business loans, you’ll get to enjoy the advantages of these new trends. 

Here are a few of the up and coming trends we’ve seen: 

  • Open banking: This enables data sharing between different banks or financial institutions, potentially leading to faster loan approvals and more accurate decision making. 

  • Alternative financing options: P2P lending, invoice financing, and merchant cash advances are all alternative lending solutions that are gaining traction.  

  • Digital lending platforms: These platforms are simplifying the loan application process, making it faster and more convenient for sole traders to find funding. 

  • Data-driven underwriting: By using advanced analytics and AI to make lending decisions, data-driven underwriting is helping lenders assess risk more accurately. 

Looking for finance?

Let us help you find the best financial product in the market. We will guide you through the whole process and make sure you get the best deal.

See your Funding Options

Start the sole trader business loan application process with Funding Options by Tide

We help match sole traders and other business owners with appropriate funding solutions. Just click the link below and fill in the information to find out how much you’re eligible to borrow.

Apply for a suitable sole trader loan.


Please note that the information above is not intended to be financial advice. You should seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your financial future.

It’s important to remember that all loans and credit agreements come with risks. These risks include non-payment and late-payment of the agreed repayment plan, which could affect your business credit score and impact your ability to find future funding. Always read the terms and conditions of every loan or credit agreement before you proceed. Contact us for support if you ever face difficulties making your repayments.

Funding Options, now part of Tide, helps UK firms access business finance, working directly with businesses and their trusted advisors. Funding Options are a credit broker and do not provide loans directly. All finance and quotes are subject to status and income. Applicants must be aged 18 and over and terms and conditions apply. Guarantees and Indemnities may be required. Funding Options can introduce applicants to a number of providers based on the applicants' circumstances and creditworthiness. Funding Options will receive a commission or finder’s fee for effecting such finance introductions.

Get a quote

Vivek Seda
Vivek Seda

Asset Lending & Property Team Lead

Vivek Seda is the Asset Based Lending & Property Team Lead at Funding Options. Vivek has been in the commercial finance industry for over five years, helping SMEs in the UK access over £40m of funding in that time. He also supports the business on working on corporate finance and structured transactions successfully funding Acquisitions and MBOs for businesses.

Sole trader business loans

Check your eligibility with our online form without affecting your credit score.

Apply for a sole trader loan