How to create a business project report to get an SME loan

9 Dec 2021

Before you begin your search for an SME loan for a specific project and commit to an application, you need to create a detailed project plan covering every crucial aspect of your business.

Woman running a business and working from computer

A comprehensive report outlining why you want the loan, what it’s for, how much, and over what term will encourage lenders to view your professional approach with the right level of consideration.

We will highlight all the criteria you need to include in the project report to ensure your application has the best chance of success.

Once you’ve compiled all the information, you’ll be ready to apply through us.

What is a project report, and what should it have?

A project report serves as a master plan. It gives focus and illustrates the feasibility of the project. It can predict future needs and help to guide decision-making while laying the groundwork to request financial assistance.

The project plan should focus on your target market while outlining your business strategy. It’s also best to concentrate on techniques and USPs (unique selling points) that present you in a different way from your competitors.

It’s important not to lose sight of the specific reason you want the loan, and this is where the project report differs from an overall business plan. However, items such as up to date management accounts and directors’ details still need including in the information. 

It’s natural to be impatient in business. Still, you need to be realistic, and sometimes ambition needs to be tempered because if you lower your expectations initially, you might avoid expensive mistakes. Besides, replicating your strategy could be easier if you’ve already experienced partial and modest success. 

Why do businesses start new projects?

No one can afford to be complacent in business, if an operation stands still, it can fade away. The main reason businesses begin new projects is to expand and increase profits. If a business needs profits for sustainability, they have to search for new markets and new customers continually.

As an example of a project that might require finance, let’s say you’re a small independent pizza maker with an excellent local reputation. Can you start a delivery service (after setting up a website that links with major food apps) by employing part-time drivers and scooter riders?

Expansion into other products or a new industry (linked to your current activities) is another reason to consider financing a new project. Using our pizza maker example, can you extend your delivery to include other food outlets if you build up a fleet of drivers or expand your range beyond pizzas, drinks and sides?

Could you become a courier or taxi service when the takeaway orders have a lull? If carefully controlled and the risk minimised, such changes to your original business can be easily managed.

Woman creating a business project report

Woman creating a business project report

What should be in the presentation to apply for project finance?

There are critical elements to have in the project report, including:

  • Background of the business

  • Specify the project

  • List the employees involved in the project

  • The company aims, including the purpose of the loan

  • The project aims and progress to date

  • Market analysis

  • Financial details

  • Operational and financial plan

1. Background of the business

It’s important not to get too deeply involved in explaining the history of the business because your latest management accounts, including the balance sheet and profit & loss, will illustrate the overall financial health of your business. Prospective lenders want to see your clarity of purpose, so focus briefly on your success to date, on what you want the loan for and prove how the project will add value to your operation.

2. Specify the project

The project could be construction, equipment leasing, new product development, research, etc., and this is where you need to get very granular in your details. 

For example, if you want to finance a construction project, actual precise costs would be far better than rough approximations. Similarly, several detailed quotes would be advisable; this proves you’re working hard to ensure you’re squeezing the best value you can out of the possible funding.

3. List the employees involved in the project

You might stand a better chance of getting the funding if you, your fellow directors/shareholders and certain employees have experience in the sector you’re looking to finance. 

For instance, listing the employees or directors’ credentials is essential if the project involves new product development. As a team, if you can prove that you’ve overseen such successful novel projects before, this might sway lenders.

Suppose you and your colleagues managed other projects earlier in the business’s history, completed on time, within budget and the results added value. In that case, this might also generate confidence that managing a complex process is not new to you.

4. The company aims including the purpose for the loan

Let’s imagine you’re a small restaurant chain investing in a new range of commercial quality cooking facilities at each site, and industry experts must do the installation. You’ve found the new equipment you want for your premises and obtained a competitive quote from the fitters. 

You now need to replace the old equipment with the latest and limit the downtime and lost revenue to an absolute minimum. Therefore, you should specify just how long the complete process will take and detail any gap or loss of income. This timeline is essential to your project report.

5. Project background and the progress to date

You then begin to outline when the investment in the new equipment starts to increase takings and profitability. Can you serve more customers quickly and with better quality food? Due to the installations, will you cater for more covers at each sitting? 

Highlighting your progress as a business so far while stressing how the new investment will reap the rewards helps reveal your motivation and ambitions and proves you’ve reached the previous goals you’ve set.

6. Market analysis

Like a startup business plan, you must include market analysis in your project report if you’re hoping to borrow funds; this will prove you’ve done your homework and understand the competition. The study should include items such as who your current and potential customers are and how you’ll reach them.

Marketing your business online through paid banner ads or social media activity must be explained and budgeted. Any offline marketing initiatives should also be accounted for in your project plans. Clearly show the link between your marketing efforts, the costs and potential rewards.

7. Financial analysis

Generally, established businesses apply for SME loans to get projects financed; as such, they should have their financials ready for inspection. For example, limited companies who’ve operated for approximately two years should have filed their first set of accounts. Moreover, management accounts, including an up-to-date profit and loss statement, should be available at the shortest notice.

The latest management numbers will differ from the most recently filed statements at Companies House if you’re a limited company, but both sets reveal a current snapshot of the business’s performance. 

Whether you’re running a limited company or operating as a sole trader, the latest HMRC payments you’ve made can also show the overall health and efficiency of the business.

8. Operational and financial plan

A cash flow statement can perfectly illustrate your ambitions for the business over the medium and long term. Measured over 1-3 years, this projection, when matched with your other financial details, helps create a comprehensive and professional image with the lenders you approach. 

You can clearly show where the project spending is justified in the forecast; when does the break-even of the loan become clear? The cash flow itemises the capital loan repayments, and if you’re hoping to take the loan for five years, it might be worth covering that entire term in your figures.

So once you’ve worked your way through the above elements and got all your bases covered in your comprehensive business project plan, you’ve put yourself in an excellent position to apply for SME project finance. That’s when our team of dedicated Business Finance Specialists at Funding Options come into the picture. 

We’ve helped over 10,000 businesses across the UK and Netherlands to secure over half a billion pounds of funding, and we’d like to help your business achieve its plans.

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Joe Morley
Joe Morley

Head of Unsecured Lending

Joe has worked in the alternative lending space since 2015. During this time he has helped hundreds of SMEs access millions in essential funding ranging from long-term asset-backed lending to short-term unsecured revolving credit lines and beyond. In his role, Joe manages and supports a large team of Credit Finance specialists.

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