You have an idea for starting a business. You begin to put the plan into action by thinking about equipment, supplies, employees, or advertising. Suddenly, you realize that your business needs money upfront: money that you don’t have.
So now what? It’s time to consider a small business loan. Keep reading to learn how to get a small business loan to pump money into your business. Your success and failure could rest on getting adequate funding.
How is a Small Business Loan Different?
Most people are familiar with the process of getting a home loan or a car loan. Business loans are different from these loans in that no two loans are the same, just like no two businesses are the same.
Home loans or car loans (also called consumer loans) are more straightforward. Lenders look at the borrower’s income, how much other debt the borrower has, and the borrower’s history of paying back previous loans.
Collecting this information is relatively easy. Paystubs or tax returns prove income. A personal credit report shows credit cards, other loans, and whether those obligations have been paid on time.
With a business, this is a bit more complicated – particularly for a new business. The lender still wants to know how the loan will be paid back but a new business may not have a steady income yet.
Which Type of Small Business Loan is Right for You?
Unlike a consumer loan, business loans are structured in many different ways. You need to decide the type of loan that will help your business grow and also make sense in terms of its repayment.
Here are some common types of business loans:
- Accounts Receivable Financing: Also called invoice factoring, these loans allow you to receive a cash advance from a lender off of your unpaid invoices.
- Equipment Financing: The proceeds of the loan are used to purchase equipment, with the equipment being used as collateral for the loan.
- Line of Credit: This loan functions much like a credit card, where you have access to an amount of money to draw upon as needed.
- SBA Loans: The Small Business Administration is a government organization that works with approved SBA lenders to provide loans to small businesses.
- Term Loans: Term loans are a predetermined loan amount for a specific period of time. They can have a variety of purposes and payment structures.
- Working Capital Loans: These loans are used to cover the operating expenses of the business, especially when the business is short on cash.
Of course, there are other types of business loans that are available, and each lender has different options.
When deciding the right type of loan for your business, you will want to consider the purpose of the loan.
Is it to cover the cost of purchasing new equipment? Does a lot of time pass before your clients pay their invoices? Does the business have seasonal dips in sales, meaning there may be issues with cash flow?
Learn How to Get a Small Business Loan
Fortunately, lenders are knowledgeable in working with business owners who are seeking financing. However, it still helps to know what to expect during the loan application process.
1. Know How Lenders Approve Loans
Many lenders still consider the “5 C’s of Credit” when evaluating a business loan. While each loan must be considered on its own merit, the “5 C’s” provide a tried and true baseline for evaluation.
Character: Does the lender feel the borrower is trustworthy? Lenders have to believe that the borrower is motivated to repay the loan.
Capacity: Does the borrower have the ability to repay the loan? The business needs to produce enough cash to make payments.
Capital: Does the owner have some money invested in the company? This shows “skin in the game.”
Conditions: Is the business growing or struggling? Are there outside factors that are impacting the business?
Collateral: Is an asset being pledged to secure the loan? This reduces the risk to the lender.
Each lender is unique in how they approve loans, but the 5 C’s of Credit can give you some general guidance on what lenders use to evaluate business loan applications.
2. Know Your Business Credit Score
Much like consumer loans, lenders for business loans also need to determine how the loan will be repaid. This is called creditworthiness. One method of determining creditworthiness is a business credit score.
Much like a personal credit score, a business credit score reflects many of the same factors, such as:
- Repayment history
- How much debt the business has
- Age of the oldest obligation
- Size of the company
- Risk of the business’s industry
New businesses can work to build their credit score over time. By obtaining loans, the business can begin to show a history of making timely payments.
3. Submit a Business Loan Application
Once you have decided on the type of loan you need, you can submit an application to a lender.
A standard application will typically require you to identify the following:
- The legal entity type of your business (Corporation, LLC, Partnership, Sole Proprietor, etc.)
- The type of loan you are seeking
- The loan amount you are requesting
- The purpose of the loan
- Other information as it pertains to the loan and your business
Once the loan application is received, the lender will contact you regarding the next steps in the process.
4. Provide Documentation
The lender will likely require you to submit some supporting documentation with your application. Typically, these documents include financial statements, bank statements, tax returns, along with proof of business documents.
Providing the documentation quickly will make the application process go more smoothly. Being prepared ahead of time with the documents that are commonly requested will allow you to respond promptly to the lender’s requests.
Knowing How to Get a Small Business Loan Helps You Find the Right Lender
You could submit your application to a traditional bank. Banks are great to work with but their loan application process is complicated and slow. Without knowing if the loan will be approved, you may need to submit multiple applications.
Or, you can submit an online application to Your FundingTree. We will quickly match your loan application with up to five lenders. Doing this saves you time and money and allows you to easily compare loan proposals for your business.
Knowing how to get a small business loan is the first step. Applying for a loan is the next step in growing your business. Submit an application with Your FundingTree today!