Many small business owners realize that they need access to extra working capital. It could be their golden ticket to attaining the next level of growth of the company. Ensuring fixed cash flow at all times is almost impossible, which can lead to disastrous consequences for the business. Problems such as slow-paying clients, unexpected opportunities like big orders, and seasonality can challenge the entrepreneurs in keeping their working capital in a positive zone.
Fortunately, you can apply for a small business loan that will help you get the funds you need without breaking the bank. With this guide, you can find the best loan for your business and the details that concern a small business loan application.
Which Type of Business Loan Should You Choose?
The top options for a small business loan include:
Bank loans: They offer the lowest interest rates, but they have very strict rules and requirements. Usually, banks need you to have a perfect credit rating, and your business has a stable revenue, cash flow, and profitability. You should also be in the industry for at least two years to get approved.
Lines of credit: This type is almost the same as with traditional bank loans except that the line of credit works just like a credit card. You have the funds available that you can obtain whenever you need them and you only have to pay for the interest based on the funds you use. However, getting a line of credit involves a lengthy application with stringent qualification standards.
Small Business Administration (SBA): Using a US SBA loan program, you can get a loan interest rate that is lower than most options. The qualifications are more accessible than with banks. SBA works with banks and other intermediary lenders to let small business owners borrow money. Paperwork and time are still the main downsides in this type of loan.
These days, you can also seek the help of online lenders where you can borrow funds from them. Be sure to remain vigilant when dealing with these companies.
What are Lenders Looking For?
When you apply for a small business loan, lenders require several items from you. It is necessary that you meet these requirements; otherwise, they will not approve the loan request. Every lender has their own process but here are the most common things to know about:
Your credit score
Personal credit scores don’t say anything about your company, but they remain important in securing the financing for the business. It is crucial that you understand that you should maintain a good personal credit score. All creditors look at this piece of information to measure your performance in the past as well as your willingness to comply with your financial obligations.
Some lenders expect you to have high scores, but the good news is that you can find a handful that is more forgiving in the applicant’s credit rating. Thresholds differ, but you normally should at least have 600. Most banks accept 680 and up, and SBA loans require at least 650.
However, if you have a low credit score, it doesn’t mean you can never get a small business loan. You can rely on online lenders that have a higher chance of accepting your application. Still, it is better to improve your score before you apply so you can have many options and get lower interest rates.
Your business credit score and profile
Your business score measures how you meet your obligations for your business. Experian, Equifax, and Dunn & Bradstreet create scores and profiles based on the timeliness of your payments to your vendors. These credit reporting agencies also take a look at how you pay your bills that are related to your business operations.
If you are new to the industry, you can start establishing your profile, which is possible when you buy office supplies to certain stores that regularly report to Equifax and others. This way, your payment history will keep updating, and you can use this opportunity to build your business profile and credit rating.
Age of business
While some lenders don’t necessarily consider the time you have spent in the industry, most of them require that you have your business for at least a year. Some may not grant your request unless your company has existed for several years.
Lenders always want to avoid risks and letting small business carries some form of risk. Younger enterprises typically mean there is a greater risk for them. Time in industry shows the track record that can be evaluated and measured. More lenders will be willing to take the chance with you if your company meets their age requirement for businesses.
Another way for lenders to measure if you can repay a loan is through your annual revenue. How much your company earns will tell these creditors if you can repay the loan for the first few months and beyond. The general rule of thumb when it comes to ensuring that your profits can cover your loan is to limit the amount of your loan to less than 12% of your total revenue. With this amount, you will still have some cash on hand in case emergencies arise.
Lenders also take a look at your monthly bank statements to determine your cash flow and your average bank balance. You should consider the interest rate and the annual percentage rate to figure out if you can repay the loan without a hitch.
Note that the APR and the interest rate are not the same. The interest rate is the principal amount’s percentage, and it is what the lender charges you when you receive the borrowed money. Meanwhile, the APR tells you the loan’s total cost, revealing the bottom line of the full charges you have to repay for the whole year.
Paying attention to the interest rates and the APR, along with the other requirements of the bank or lender can help you find the best loan for your small business.