You have the greatest business idea, a no-fail plan, and a stellar team ready to help you execute your vision. With no capital, though, your entrepreneurial goals may remain just a dream.
The SBA reports startup companies typically encounter the most challenges when applying for a small-business loan. Here are five tips to keep in mind to secure the finances to power your small-business venture.
1. Find the Right Lender
There are many types of lenders you can approach for a small-business loan. Approaching the most appropriate one increases your chances of propelling your business. Lender choices include:
- Large national financial institutions. You may approach your current bank for a traditional bank loan. Since you already have a built-in relationship, this lender may help point you in a better direction if they’re not able to help.
- Alternative lenders. Alternative lenders bridge the gap between big banks and community lenders with moderate requirements. Alternative lenders such as SnapCap may help niche businesses secure fast business loans as they focus on potential growth versus business owners’ credit scores.
- Community lenders and credit unions. Locally-owned banks or lenders with interest in the economic growth of a specific area may be a good fit for locally-focused businesses.
2. Do Your Homework
Find out what the lending institution requires in the approval process. You’ll typically need to:
- Have a solid business plan. Loans are typically not granted to lending, speculating, or gambling ventures.
- Have exceptional credit history. This includes both personal and business credit history, which should be verified by the three major credit bureaus.
- Have strong personal and business assets. This proves to the lender you’ll be able to pay them back.
- Have a positive relationship with the lender. Having a constructive relationship with the lender before you even apply for the loan may increase your chances of achieving it.
3. Sort Out the Details
The clearer you can present your business plan to the lender, the more they’ll be able to understand and trust in your venture; the more details you provide, the better. During the application process, you’ll want to communicate:
- Why you need the money and what it will be used for. The more essential these factors are to the growth of your business, the more they’ll impact the lender. Bailing out business losses does not convey return of investment.
- A detailed budget of how each portion of the loan will be spent. Use up-to-date financial documentation and cash flow projections researched by a qualified expert to support your claims. Be prepared to explain industry risk, based on government ratings.
- The partners and suppliers you’ll be working with when spending loan money. Lenders will want to verify the businesses you’ll be spending your money with are credible, as well.
4. Come With the Right Team
Your business practices aren’t the only deciding factors in whether or not you’ll get a small-business loan. Lenders will also want to:
- Know your leadership. The executive members of your business should have exemplary credit and business history.
- Know your other investors. You’ll want to disclose who else is putting faith in your company and what their relationships are to you and your business.
- Know you have equity in the company. If you are not personally invested in the business in some way, this decreases the trust the lender will have when considering distribution of the loan. You’ll want to convey passion when communicating to the lender about your business and provide examples of how you see your company growing, whether it’s through distribution partnerships or new product plans.
5. Get Free Help
Navigating the small-business loan process, especially for a business that is new to the ins and outs, can be tricky and overwhelming. Thankfully, there are free sources of support that can help you along the way:
- SBA. This government organization is designed to help small businesses like yours succeed. You can find at least one branch office in every state. The SBA also represents a national network of about 100 women’s business centers targeted to female entrepreneurs.
- SCORE. SCORE provides a network of free business mentors, so you can find an expert directly related to your field and learn from their successes.
- Small Business Development Centers. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) offer free business resources and assistance from professionals and professors. There are more than 900 centers across the country.
By taking the time to prepare for the small-business loan application process, creating a detailed business plan that addresses any concerns you may encounter, finding the ideal lender for your type of small business, surrounding yourself with colleagues and investors as driven as you are, and using free resources for help, you’ll be able to procure a small-business loan that could be the key driving force in your business future.