British Business Bank hits £800m start-up funding milestone as loan recipients reflect on saying “Yes!” to business ownership

British Business Bank hits £800m start-up funding milestone as loan recipients reflect on saying “Yes!” to business ownership

Entrepreneurs often dream of opening a business for months, or even years, before they take the leap and set the process in motion. In every business owner’s life, there comes a moment when they say “Yes” and make the decision to work toward becoming a successful business owner.

The timing of that crucial decision point, and the journey to get there, is different for everyone. It can be a moment when they decide to apply for funding, to create a website, or draft up a business plan. For budding entrepreneurs looking to take their first step into the world of business ownership, however big or small, that vital ‘Yes’ moment can be life-changing.

Here, business owners from the East of England who took out a government-backed Start Up Loan share what that ‘Yes’ moment looked like for them, how they got to that point, and how it felt, to inspire others who might be considering starting a business in 2022.

Valiant Lingerie

Eleanor Howie secured finance of £6,500 through Start Up Loans delivery partner Virgin StartUp in Spring 2020. Her business provides empowering lingerie for women who have been impacted by breast cancer or risk-reducing mastectomies.

Her mother had breast cancer when Eleanor was very small and following surgery struggled to find lingerie that wasn’t frumpy, beige, and clinical. Eleanor had a risk-reducing mastectomy when she was just 24 years old and found that nothing had improved over time in terms of the availability of contemporary post-surgery underwear. This had a real impact on her self-esteem, so a few years later she decided to do something herself.

Eleanor is very conscious of the fashion industry being problematic in contributing to the climate crisis and does not want to be a part of the problem. Valiant Lingerie’s collection is made using yarn from recycled fishing nets. The fabric is soft and functional, but also sustainable and recyclable. All products in the line are produced by a small UK-based partner, cutting down on their carbon footprint.

Eleanor Howie, Founder of Valiant Lingerie, said: “I think looking back, the advice I’d give to myself is to believe in myself. I’m the kind of person that likes to be really prepared so, I went through all the stages that I would recommend anyone does: I did my research, I looked at my competitors and I really thought about what made my product special.”

“But I think it’s really easy to become paralysed by that and to want to hold back getting started until everything is perfect. The reality is it’s never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be the perfect time. Believe in yourself and get going.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start-Up Loans, said: “Delivering over 90,000 loans and providing £800 million of funding is a huge milestone for the programme and reflects the ambition and determination the nation’s small businesses have demonstrated over the past few years.”

“It’s brilliant to hear the stories of how East of England business owners felt when they said ‘Yes’ to becoming their own boss. Our Ambassadors often tell us that, despite how nerve-wracking it may be to start a business, saying ‘Yes’ and firmly making the decision to go for it is half the battle.” 

“Start Up Loans offer many great resources for entrepreneurs on the cusp of saying ‘yes’ to starting a business. Our pre-loan support package, and mentoring scheme once a loan has been provided, mean all recipients are supported during one of the most exciting, but daunting, decisions of their lives.”

If you want to say goodbye to boring, uncomfortable mastectomy bras then join the Valiant revolution!

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