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The ultimate guide to business loans and finance for startups

It’s time to turn your business dreams into reality. But where do you start when it comes to finding finance? We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. Keep reading to discover how best to approach this tricky topic.  


Key take-outs
  • Explore all of the options for startup loans and finance before you commit
  • Make sure you can fulfil all of the eligibility criteria for the loan you are applying for
  • Ensure you will be able to follow the payment plan the loan sets out
  • Be brave and make the leap.


Compare the market

The first thing to do is collate a list of startup business loans or finance. These could be loans from banks, the government, institutions that offer grants in your business area, venture capitalists or angel investors.


Once you have a comprehensive list of your startup funding options the next job is to compare the eligibility criteria. These can be varied and typically include a well-prepared business plan, a good credit score, stable financial history, sufficient cash flow projections, and sometimes collateral. Lenders may also need proof of experience in the industry, a clear purpose for the loan, and Australian residency. However, specific criteria will vary depending on the lender and the type of loan or finance.


It’s good to also check what the loan can be used for. Sometimes there are stipulations and limitations, so read the small print before you proceed. 

Look at loan interest rates


Your eligibility comparison will have shortened your list of possibilities. You now know what you can apply for; it’s time to start looking at the interest rates. This will tell you which loan will work best for you and your new business. Interest rates for business startup loans in Australia vary depending on factors such as the loan amount, loan term, credit score, and the financial institution. Rates can range from around 5% to 20% or more. Variable and fixed-rate options are available, with variable rate loans typically offering more flexibility. However, fixed rates offer more predictable repayments. It's important to compare interest rates and terms from different lenders to find the best deal for your startup.

Getting cold feet? Explore alternative options


If the interest rates have left you feeling unsettled, there are other options. Crowd-sourced funding is a way startups and small businesses can raise funds, usually from a large number of investors that invest small amounts of money. It’s a business version of crowd funding, which is normally used by entrepreneurs for unique projects. Crowd funding could also be an option worth exploring, depending on the size and scope of what you and your business dreams need.

What do I need to apply for a business loan?


To apply for a business startup loan in Australia, you'll typically need a detailed business plan, personal identification, proof of address, financial statements, tax returns, and credit reports. Depending on who you are borrowing from, you may also need to provide proof of industry experience, cash flow projections, collateral documentation, and other pieces of information. Be prepared to provide both personal and business financial records if you have an existing business.

How long will it take?


The approval time for a startup business loan in Australia will vary depending on the lender and the complexity of the application. It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. To speed-up the process, make sure that you provide all necessary documents and information when submitting your application.

Make the leap

Now you’ve looked at all the funding options that are on offer, figured out what you are eligible for and explored some alternatives, it’s time to make a choice and take the next steps. You’ll need to:

  • Prepare a business plan, including your executive summary, market analysis, products or services, and financial projections.
  • Gather necessary documentation, including personal identification, financial statements, and tax returns.
  • Assess your financial position.
  • Submit your loan application and await approval!


Westpac offer a business loan for startups that have operated for less than 24 months with borrowing up to $50K and a five-year term. This might be one to add to the list. We also have a handy help section on starting a business.

Whichever direction you choose, remember that launching a business is both an exciting and challenging time. We are here to support and guide you through the process.

Keep exploring

A simple guide to business loans and finance

Whether you’re looking to expand your business or simply need a quick cash flow boost, there are a few things to know about business lending. 

How could I fund vehicle, machinery and equipment purchases?

Just about every business needs to spend on equipment, even if it’s just for a computer or mobile phone.

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice.