This paper investigates the importance of bank loans for the financing of startups and how location matters for expansion plans and financing. We will show that there has not been sufficient attention paid to legal form when distinguishing between the external and internal financing of startups. The focus will be on the corporate form of business and the implications of this legal form for what can be considered external financing. In the analysis of how location matters, we will draw upon the literature about agglomeration and knowledge spillovers.

The two main questions posed are: How does the corporate form matter for what can be considered the external financing of startups, and how does location matter for expansion plans and financing? To provide empirical answers to these questions, both survey data and registry data have been used.

The survey data are from a questionnaire sent out to startups listed in the files of the Swedish Jobs and Society Foundation. We looked at corporations founded during the period 2009-2013 that family firms in terms of ownership structure. The survey indicated that bank loans are rare and had to be backed up with personal assets used as collateral and personal guarantees of repayment for the majority of the firms who had used bank loans. Essentially, the entrepreneur personally takes most of the business risk. Bank loans have, to a large extent, the character of internal financing.

Combining registry data with the qualitative data from the survey, we used regression analysis to further study differences due to location. The regression analysis showed that the degree of urbanization matters for plans for expansion. In the three most urbanized areas, the startup firms had plans to expand their business both at home and abroad. In the other urbanized areas, the focus was on expansion at home.