How do you apply for business loans?
A good place to start is to have a good credit score which shows the credit worthiness of your business. Ask yourself;
- How is your small business cash flow?
- How long have you been in business?
- Is your business plan recently updated?
- How much can you budget for monthly repayments if you get a loan approval?
- Are you prepared to offer collateral or a personal loan guarantee?
You need to answer all the questions before you even consider approaching any lender for a loan.
- What type of business funding are you looking for?
- What is the lender looking for?
You will need to identify which type of business funding you would go for and the lender you prefer. Due diligence is a necessity which can save you time and resources.
WHY ARE BANKS THE MOST LIKELY SOURCE OF FINANCING FOR SMALL BUSINESS?
Small business owners borrow loans from banks using collateral such as home equity and business assets.
Banks prefer to make loans to small businesses that have been in operation for a few years and have enough stability, and assets to serve as collateral for the loan.
The amount of loan given to a small business depends on how much is in the business inventory and in accounts receivable.
The government stops banks from taking depositors savings and investing in risky business ventures.
This makes startup businesses less likely to get loans from banks due to no collateral and or owners with bad credit.
If you are looking for a startup business loan with bad credit or no collateral, you should not go to a bank and ask for financing since banks don’t finance business startups.
WHY DO business STARTUPS NEED FUNDING?
Startups like most healthy businesses need financing at some point. Most startup businesses have starting costs and expenses that arise depending on the specifics of the business.
As a startup business, you should tailor your financing request and approach to suit your kind of business, and not waste time and resources looking for the wrong kind of funding.
Accessing funding for a business startup will depend on its stage of growth, available resources, market opportunities, team, and other factors.
HOW DO STARTUP businesses GET FUNDING?
If you are wondering how to get business funding, how to finance a startup business, and or where to look for money for your small business, below are a few suggestions;
Equipment financing is designed to pay for the purchase of business equipment and machinery.
Equipment loans have monthly repayment terms and long repayment period, and are similar in structure to a conventional loans with monthly repayment terms over a long period.
Start up business loans for equipment can only be used to purchase equipment or machinery since the equipment will be used as collateral for the loan.
Business Credit Cards
Business credit cards can be a great alternative source of funding for a small business. It can help a business establish a business line of credit.
To qualify for a business credit card, lenders will look at your personal credit scores and income both personal and for the business.
Collateral is not necessary though some lenders may ask for a personal loan guarantee.
Most business credit cards have bonus rewards programs and sign-up bonuses. A good tip would be to select a business credit card with a 0% introductory funding offer.
This can help you to make purchases and carry a balance for 9, 12, or even 15 months without paying interest when you start your small business.
Startup business Consultants
Startup business consultants charge a premium to connect your startup business to funding. They can also check the viability of your business for funding.
They also make sure you are covered with all the basic startup business needs, from business plan creation, business insurance, and a business plan.
Venture capital financing for a startup or small business is only available to a select group of high growth business startups.
Venture capital is a business like any other and they prefer startup businesses with proven market opportunities, high revenue and growth potential to get returns for their investments pending an IPO or exit option.
Most banks and or commercial lenders prefer to offer loans to small businesses that have collateral and good credit.
Banks do not fund risky startup businesses. To get startup business loans from a bank, you need to have a solid collateral, good credit history both personal and for the business, and a business plan.
Angel investors are the most common source of funding for startup businesses during the early stages of growth.
Be careful when dealing with angel investment firms you hire to find you business funding by acting as a negotiator for you, or prepare your business plan.
Real angel investors prefer to deal directly with startup business owners seeking funding for their businesses.
Crowd funding is an accepted term for individual investment in startup business by non 'accredited investors' who do not meet the U.S securities and exchange regulations, pertaining to legal wealth requirements.
Online crowd funding platforms can be a great source of business funding for startups.
Small businesses can solicit for funding from a wider range of investors. When in doubt, double check with your lawyer first.
The Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA offers loan guarantees to approved SBA lenders thereby making it easier for small businesses and startups to get business loans.
The SBA requires startup business owners looking for microloans to have at least a third of the required loan amount, and reasonable personal and or business asset guarantees, to get a startup business loan approval.
The SBA works with certified lenders through its loan program and you should make an inquiry or search online to see if your local lender or bank is approved by the SBA to offer such loans.
Apart from bank loans, established small businesses can access funding against the business account receivables from alternative lenders.
Invoice factoring or purchase order financing can be a great source of funding for small businesses to support cash flow. Interest rates and fees may be relatively high on the alternative funding options.
Friends and family
You should know how much funding you need for your startup or small business, the risks involved, and how much you can afford to lose before you ask for funding from friends and family.
Small businesses and startups do fail and you should make them understand that before you ask for donations.
Apart from the SBA, there are other micro lenders and non-profit organizations that offer small business funding of less than US$35,000. You can search online for online business loans for startups.
Personal Credit Cards
A personal credit card with a reasonably high limit can help you fund your small business if you cannot get a business credit card.
Keep a close eye on the credit limit and pay your bills on time. Putting business expenses on personal credit cards can ruin your credit.
If you have enough personal savings, you could use it to fund your small or startup business, or even get a loan using your home as a collateral.
401K/ IRA Savings
If you plan to incorporate your small business, you can use your retirement savings plan to fund the company. Keep in mind not to use all your retirement savings on the startup business.
CAN YOU GET AN SBA LOAN TO START A BUSINESS?
The SBA offers microloans up to $50,000 which can be used for working capital or the purchase of inventory, machinery or equipment, and furniture when starting a small business.
Government-backed SBA loans have a lower risk to lenders than traditional funding.
Startups that may be struggling financially, can consider applying for grants for small business owners and small business startup loans, such as an SBA loan.
The SBA works with various lenders and organizations that can help provide funding to eligible small businesses.
They also offer research and development grants for businesses that might benefit from such resources.
Individuals can also apply for SBA microloans from non-profits or local organizations that offer additional funding to minority community members looking to start a business.
These short term small business loans can be useful and provide easy access to funding for persons who are disproportionately disadvantaged.
The SBA microloans program was originally set up to make startup business funding more readily accessible to women, mom and pop businesses, minorities, and veterans.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBA microloan program partners with community-based, nonprofit, intermediary lenders to provide small businesses with loan amounts between $500 up to $50,000.
The SBA microloan interest rates range between 8% to 13%, and term lengths do not exceed 6 years.
SBA approved microloan lenders act not only as a source of funding for a small business startup, but also as business mentors offering advice on business management, marketing, and finance for the ongoing success of the startup and small businesses.
The application and approval processes for the SBA microloan program is quite long and difficult due to the program's stringent requirements. If you have trouble getting a small business loan, you should consider SBA guaranteed loans.
Some of the popular SBA loan programs include;
Small Business Investment Company (SBIC)
SBICs are privately owned and managed investment funds that use their own capital, plus funds borrowed with an SBA guarantee, to make equity and debt investments in qualifying small businesses.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program
SBIR program is for small businesses that engage in federal research and development that has the potential for commercialization.
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program
The STTR program offers funding opportunities for small businesses in the federal innovation research and development field. Small businesses that qualify for this loan program work with nonprofit research institutions in the early and intermediate stages of their startup phase.
CAN I GET A GRANT TO OPEN MY OWN BUSINESS?
If your small business does not qualify to get a loan, consider startup business grants.
Grants are granted by certain organization or individuals for promotion of a dedicated cause and for startups specializing in niche industries in an underprivileged location.
Grants for small business are a type of funding that requires no repayment and no exchange of equity. Although difficult to access, small business grants are a good source of funding for small businesses.
They are industry-specific so you will need to research your business industry, identify the niche, and adjust your grant application to align with the sponsor’s goals.
There are also small business grants for women, veterans, and minority owned businesses.
Governments and private enterprises also offer grants to small businesses and even though qualifying for a grant to fund your business is hard, getting one could as well be worth it.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A BUSINESS PLAN WHEN APPLYING FOR BUSINESS FUNDING?
A well-written and structured business plan or pitch, presents your startup business to investors in detail.
Nobody invests in ideas or plans, and your business plan is an essential piece of the startup small business funding process. It explains how much money you need, where you plan to spend the money, and how long it will take your business to get returns.
Most investors , commercial banks, and the SBA, require a business plan as part of a startup business loans application. Investors will look at your summary, pitch, and business plan as part of the due diligence process, or during the early stages of your business.
Everyone you start a business funding talk with is going to expect you to have a business plan. Just make sure to have a business plan ready and available for when they ask you for it.
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