Saying "yes" to launching your own start up isn't necessarily easy and certainly shouldn't be done flippantly. However, whether they spend days, weeks, months or years getting there, there comes a moment in every business owner's life when they must take that leap of faith and say "yes" to going at it alone.

I can relate to the trepidation and nerves that go with this moment. Years ago, while working for a high street bank, I had my own "Yes" moment when deciding to lend money to an optician business in West London. Like many of our Start Up Loans Ambassadors I speak to now, I initially felt nervous about the decision. It was my first big investment, and I was unsure if it would succeed. Fast forward to today, and I cannot help but feel a sense of pride when I walk past that optician and see it still open for business and providing an essential service to the local community.

This is why I passionately believe in the Start Up Loans mission to ensure that owning a business is a viable career path for those who struggle to raise capital from traditional high street lenders. I take pride that Start Up Loans recently hit two key funding milestones - delivering over 90,000 loans and providing over £800m of funding to business owners across the UK while offering them free support and guidance along the way.

Of those who received a loan, 40% were women, more than 20% were people from Black, Asian, and Other Ethnic Minority communities (excluding White Minorities); and over 30% were previously unemployed. All these recipients have, at some point, decided to take control of their futures and say "Yes" to becoming their own bosses.

Our Start Up Loans Ambassadors often tell me that making the decision to start a business is just half the battle, but I'm still fascinated by how the timing of that crucial decision, and the journey to get there, is different for everyone.

For example, for our East of England Ambassador Eleanor Howie, Founder of Valiant Lingerie, the decision to say "yes" was something that had been on her mind for a while. Her business provides empowering lingerie for women who have been impacted by breast cancer or risk-reducing mastectomies.

Eleanor explains: "I had always been interested in owning my own business and I knew there was a gap in the market for women like me who had functional requirements from their underwear following surgery, but wanted something that made them feel good about themselves and help them the rebuild their confidence"

For others, like Lamar Griffith and Reece Walker, Co-Founders of 21st Century Repairs, a van-based phone repair service based in Nottingham, the decision was based largely on the need to be self-employed: "We wanted to work to better ourselves and make our own luck our own way. Once we made that decision, we were excited and ready to go, but knew there would be a long road ahead".

No matter the reason behind the decision, for budding entrepreneurs looking to take their first steps into the world of business ownership, that vital "Yes" moment can be life-changing.

When embarking on their entrepreneurship journey, our loan recipients frequently stress the importance of mentorship and finding trusted advisors to help brainstorm and refine ideas. Reliable advice can often be the difference between taking the leap or shelving the idea altogether, which is why we prioritise it through our free mentoring and support guides.

Ultimately, however, the beauty of starting a business is that it will always be something of a gamble.

Loan recipients and Co-Founders of pet accessory brand Hiro & Wolf, Amy Fleuriot and Bee Friedman, said to me: "Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and get on with it. You've got to keep saying "Yes" when it feels right."

As 2022 progresses, I look forward to hearing about many more entrepreneurs saying "Yes" to becoming business owners. With the Start Up Loans programme on target to reach £1 billion worth of funding by the end of the year, is now your time to say "Yes"?