Here in 3fe, one of the most rewarding aspects of what we do is working with new businesses. We are fortunate to have lots and lots of ambitious people coming to us, trusting us, and sharing their thoughts and ideas with us. They come from all walks of life with the ambition of having great coffee for their customers by opening their own place - their own café, their own restaurant, their own bar, or their own hotel - whatever dream they have.
They come with differing views on what they want from their place; the first of a mega-brand empire which they hope to roll out, or a single independent coffee shop that gives them the lifestyle they’ve always hoped for. They come to us from all kinds of backgrounds, with diverse educations and experiences, and at all stages of life. Every case is unique and everyone has their own hope and their own vision.
Despite the diversity of plans we’ve seen drawn on paper, the single thing they all have in common (beyond their desire to have outstanding coffee of course!) is that they need cash to push the project on. Access to finance can be the single biggest deciding factor in whether or not the dream has any hope of becoming a reality. As you’d expect, there tends to be plenty of hoops to jump through, so below we’ll share some of the solutions that people we work with have used to get their finance in place, as well as some of the partners we have dealt with down the years.
Depending on at what stage in the process you are at you’ll have differing needs. If you have a business up and running already, whatever that may be - say its a record shop for example - and you’d like to add a coffee shop to that, or change it around totally, there are plenty of options for you.
If you are a brand new start up there tends to be less options. Financial institutes may look at you as a higher risk than someone who has a business already with an existing financial track record. In this situation it’s always useful to speak to an accountant who can give you professional advice. The other essential at this point is to build a comprehensive business plan (see template below).
For newbies, a company we’ve heard a lot of recently is Microfinance Ireland (microfinanceireland.ie). They are a not-for-profit government backed business who offer, as the name suggests, micro loans for brand new companies. They’ll do loans of between €5,000 and €25,000. For anyone at the very early stages of planning and plotting, Microfinance Ireland is a good place to start. They have some good resources which can help you get understand what’s needed. They also work with Local Enterprise Offices and offer mentoring. A link for their application form is here: Application Form €5,000 - €25,000
In terms of traditional banks, AIB have put themselves forward in recent years as a company who will invest on start ups. We’ve had some customers going with them. You can check out some of the starter information here: https://business.aib.ie/products/finance-and-loans/sme-loans#. And they have a form for SME start ups here:
Of course, many people will be in a position to generate their own starting block, be that from savings, private investment, or friends and family. If you wanted to go with a formalised version of this you could also look at crowd funding. Fundit.ie is a crowdfunding platform which was created by Business to Arts here in Dublin to give opportunities for those looking to begin something within the creative realm. They have a section on their website which showcases some of the food based ventures they’ve given a platform to: fundit.ie/browse/category/food
The final type of finance to cover here, and to many the most desirable, is a non-repayable grant. There are far too many nuanced criteria to list here in terms of the issuing of grants, but there’s a hefty list of what may be available to you here: www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/business-grants-ireland/
For any of the above it’s very likely you’ll need to provide the following with your application:
-An Irish Credit Bureau report. These reports are free and can be ordered at icb.ie. The issue date of the report needs to be within two weeks of your application, so be prepared for that.
-And, Personal Bank Statements for the for the past six months and Business Bank statements for the past six months if you have a business bank account already.
Further resources (provided by Microfinance Ireland):
If you have a business and you’re keen to change it up, add a coffee offering or to upgrade your equipment (see our blog on buying the right coffee machine here), it’s likely you’ve dealt with a financial institute already, and it may be easier for you to go back to those you have a relationship with rather than starting anew. However if you are looking to work with someone different, then here are a couple of options which we’ve worked with in the past.
Grenke are a company we’ve been dealing with for many years and offer a very quick and simple option for those looking at a lease-to-buy solution. Effectively Grenke will give you the opportunity to lease equipment for an agreed term of months, before giving you the option of purchasing the equipment outright for a small percentage of the initial value. In other words, Grenke will rent the equipment to you, and at the end of the rental period you can take on the ownership. We deal with Grenke directly ourselves, so if you are keen to examine this option it can be done directly with Grenke or through us - www.grenke.ie or message us at [email protected].
Another business whose reputation has enhanced in recent times, meaning we’re getting people coming to us through them are peer-to-peer lenders LinkedFinance. They are taking the crowdfunding model and dialing it up by giving investors opportunities to back projects and businesses they like in return for a pre agreed interest rate. Despite offering larger scale loans than those listed above, LinkedFinance focus on SMEs and have quick turnaround times on their decisions. linkedfinance.com/get-a-loan
If you are looking for speciality coffee and the best equipment available for your start up or existing business you can contact us directly to discuss the options available. Check out our 3fe Wholesale Page or message us at [email protected]