Can I set up a business with no savings and bad credit? BANK ON DAVE replies

I want to start an industrial roofing and siding company at some point in my life.

I read your article about the window cleaner who wants to set up a private scaffolding company and am looking for advice.

I am also a self-employed sole trader, but not in the same sense as the window cleaner – I am a laborer under the CIS scheme.

I have four years of experience in my field and I am starting to think seriously about setting up my own business in the next five years.

I would start as a self-employed sole proprietorship anyway. My problem is that I have no savings and have a terrible credit score that I am slowly but surely building back up.

I’ve seen many of my peers, my age and younger, get bank loans and start construction businesses.

I feel like this won’t be an option for me and would like some advice on how to get the ball rolling.

Are government grants available or business loan options for bad credit?

I want to start my own business, but I have a terrible credit score and no savings – what are my options? Dave Fishwick replies

Dave Fishwick, This Is Money’s company doctor, replies: Firstly, I like the idea that you want to become your own boss and start your own business.

It is without a doubt the best decision I have ever made. In the late eighties, I was seventeen years old and a construction worker, I decided to set up my first company selling vehicles.

Since then I have built many companies in many different industries over the last 30 years and I have never looked back.

The first year is often the most challenging time in a new business, as you usually start without the benefits of regular customers and with all the start-up costs you have to pay.

Equipment purchases, marketing costs, rents, down payments and much more make it difficult to become profitable in the beginning, so you will need some money to become profitable.

To keep this to a minimum, I would try to start with as little overhead as possible. You may be renting equipment instead of buying it in the first place or buying used equipment. Start with the smallest property you can, if any. Maybe work from a garage in the beginning.

The advice I give to anyone wanting to start a business is to first look for a job (perhaps part-time) in the industry you are interested in.

For example, if you wanted to own a pub/restaurant I would say apply for a job in your busiest local pub and see which beers sell best, what food is on the menu and what is most popular.

Which nights are the busiest and why? Which entertainment works best: quiz nights, karaoke or live music? What are the best opening hours? Take photos of the decor and all fixtures and fittings. An expensive and experienced architect probably designed the interior and exterior. You can benefit from their knowledge and experience.

Dave Fishwick

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel yourself, because it’s already going round brilliantly. Just borrow the best ideas from the best companies and use them yourself. I promise, it will save you a fortune in time and money!

You already have some experience in the industry in which you plan to start a business, which is a significant advantage and a huge plus. You can get started with the contacts and potential customers.

Starting as a self-employed person is usually the best way to start. Keeping things simple at first is often the best way to move forward.

Keep in mind that limited liability companies are relatively inexpensive to incorporate and can provide you with increased liability protection and a number of potential tax and cash flow benefits. But always talk to a qualified accountant before making any major decisions.

You are doing the right thing by rebuilding your credit score as it can help you not only obtain loans but also lease equipment and buildings and obtain payment processing facilities.

Although the less debt you have, especially in the beginning, the better.

Many small grants and business loans are available online and a quick search will reveal pages of potential opportunities. However, they will come with many rules and caveats.

You mentioned that you may want to start your new business in the next few years, and I would use that time to gain as much knowledge as possible about your chosen industry. Create a fantastic business plan and rebuild your credit.

You can do this by looking at your credit report. Your credit score is influenced by many factors, so knowing what’s on your credit report can help you determine exactly where you stand.

Spend your free time building a great business plan, website, and significant social media presence. What you can do now, while you still have a steady income, will help a lot later

Paying all your bills on time is extremely important. If possible, try to catch up on overdue bills. Taking out a small loan and paying it back as soon as possible, with all payments made in full and on time, will help you rebuild your credit score.

You can then approach some online lenders with a renewed credit report. Initially, you will most likely be accepted for a loan backed by an asset.

I also really like crowdfunding as a possible option to raise money.

You may be able to get some start-up capital from family and friends. Spend your free time building a great business plan, website, and significant social media presence. What you can do now, while you still have a steady income, will help a lot later.

If you can put some money aside each month for the next few years before you start your business, it will go a long way in helping you get through the period where you spend more than you earn.

The industrial roofing and siding industry sounds like work that can’t be done alone, so you’ll likely need to employ staff, or alternatively it may be worth partnering with one or more other tradesmen , which may be able to help you share both the burden of installation costs and workload.

Several organizations offer grants and mentorship to small businesses through resources linked to the website and also your council’s website. It’s worth researching these to see if you qualify.

You must be ready to adapt, adapt and overcome all the problems you encounter in the beginning, and most importantly, never give up, never give up!

Good luck.

Ask Dave Fishwick a business or career advice question

Self-made millionaire and entrepreneur Dave Fishwick is our new columnist answering your questions about business and careers.

Dave runs a hugely successful minibus and car business in Lancashire and rose to fame with his BAFTA winning television series Bank of Dave, pitting him against the big banks.

He’s ready to answer any questions you may have, whether you own a business, are considering starting one, or have general career questions.

In his spare time he likes to give lectures to inspire people to get the best out of themselves.

A Netflix movie about Bank of Dave will air late this year/early 2023 and he’s been a friend of This is Money for a decade. He now wishes to impart some of his wisdom and advice to our readers.

If you would like to ask Dave a question please email him at

Dave will do his best to answer your message in a future column, but he won’t be able to reply to everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his answers constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and use it for free. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to compromise our editorial independence.

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