What to Do When Your Business Can’t Afford Loan Payments[yoast-breadcrumb]
What to Do When Your Business Can’t Afford Loan Payments
Taking out a business loan can be necessary to get your company up and running. But what happens when your sales don’t meet projections and you can’t afford the monthly payments? Defaulting on a loan can ruin your credit and even force you to close up shop.
If paying back your business loan has become a struggle, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to get your finances back on track. Here is what to do if your business can’t afford its loan payments.
Assess Your Finances
The first thing you need to do is get a clear picture of your current financial situation. Pull together your income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and profit and loss reports. Look at sales volumes, inventory, payroll, fixed costs, variable expenses, and any outstanding debts. This will help you understand exactly where your business stands.
You may need to cut unnecessary spending to free up cash flow for loan payments. But resist making drastic reductions in things like marketing or payroll until you’ve explored all your options. Slashing those budgets could just make the situation worse in the long run.
Talk to Your Lender
Communication is key when you start struggling with loan payments. Contact your lender as soon as you think you may miss a payment. Most lenders want to help borrowers get through temporary setbacks.
Be honest about your financial difficulties when you speak to them. Explain steps you’ve already taken to cut costs. Ask if they can work with you by doing any of the following:
- Lowering your interest rates to reduce monthly payments.
- Letting you switch to interest only payments temporarily.
- Extending the loan term to lower payments.
- Allowing a short grace period to delay payments.
Lenders have a vested interest in keeping borrowers out of default. By communicating early, you increase the chances they’ll grant some concessions so you can get back on track.
If your current lender can’t or won’t offer flexibility, look into refinancing your loan. Refinancing replaces an existing loan with a new one that has better terms. It allows you to:
- Secure a lower monthly payment.
- Obtain a lower interest rate.
- Extend the repayment period.
Try approaching your current lender first to see if they will refinance the loan for you. If not, see what terms other lenders can offer. Refinancing could reduce the burden enough to make payments affordable again.
For small business loans backed by the SBA, another option is to request a loan modification. The SBA can modify loan terms to help struggling yet viable businesses. Things they may do include:
- Lowering the interest rate.
- Extending the maturity.
- Deferring payments for a time.
To qualify for a loan modification from the SBA, you’ll need to provide financial documents and a robust business plan. This demonstrates you have a strategy to turn your business around.
Bring in Investors
If refinancing isn’t feasible, look for investors who can provide an influx of cash. You can use this money to cover monthly payments while you work on rebuilding sales and revenue.
Options for bringing on investors include:
- Taking on a business partner who contributes capital.
- Issuing new shares of stock in exchange for investment.
- Getting funding from angel investors or venture capitalists.
- Using crowdfunding platforms to raise smaller investments from multiple backers.
Investors will do due diligence before providing money. Be ready to convince them your business is a worthwhile investment despite current difficulties.
Seek Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation combines multiple debts into a single new loan with one monthly payment. This can make payments more affordable in two key ways:
- The interest rate on the new loan is lower than rates paid on existing debts.
- The payment term is longer, lowering the monthly outlay of cash.
This strategy works best for borrowers with multiple debts and good credit. By rolling everything into a single lower rate loan with a longer term, you can free up cash flow for the business loan payment.
Negotiate with Suppliers
Don’t forget to talk to your suppliers. See if they can offer extended payment terms so you don’t have to lay out cash right away. Some may agree to let you delay payments 30, 60 or 90 days interest free. Even an extra week or two can provide some breathing room.
Offer to place larger, long-term orders in exchange for supplier financing. Giving them more business can provide incentive for vendors to work with you.
Cut Owner’s Salary
If your business is a corporation, one way to ease cash flow pressures is to reduce what you pay yourself as the owner. Taking a smaller owner’s draw for a few months may give you enough to cover the loan payment.
Be cautious about eliminating your salary entirely. You need enough income to cover personal obligations. But temporarily decreasing it to the minimum you can live on could buy you time.
When all else fails, downsizing your operations can help reduce expenses so you can afford loan payments. Consider things like:
- Moving to a smaller workspace to lower rent and utilities.
- Laying off workers, cutting hours, or instituting furloughs.
- Selling equipment and other assets not critical to day-to-day operations.
- Closing secondary locations to consolidate at your primary facility.
These actions are painful but may be unavoidable. Have a plan for ramping operations back up once your situation improves.
Default Should Be Last Resort
Defaulting on a loan has severe consequences, including collection harassment, seizure of assets, lawsuits, and tanked credit scores. Business owners should view it as the absolute last resort.
If you’ve tried everything and cannot make payments, contact the lender immediately. Explain why you cannot pay and see if surrendering collateral or another resolution is possible. An attorney can help negotiate and protect your interests.
With hard work and determination, many businesses can recover from the brink of default. Don’t wait to seek help – the sooner you start exploring options, the more likely you’ll find a way through challenging times.