So you’ve gotten your business off the ground and running. It’s been a nerve-wracking, tiresome experience, but it’s also been one that you have been eager to participate in. However, you have come to the realization that you need a business loan. Maybe you need new equipment or have to remodel part of the building. You may even be considering opening up a new location. Whatever the reason is, you realize that you cannot do it without the help of a lender and a business loan.
However, if you haven’t gotten a loan before, the process can be confusing. Let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of applying for a loan, as well as what you can do to up your chances of approval.
Is a Loan the Right Choice?
While most business lenders are going to be eager for your business, you will want to make sure that a loan is actually what you need in the first place. If you have a business credit card, it may be enough to get you what you need. However, a loan will allow you the freedom to really expand and improve your business. In that case, applying for a loan is the right decision to make.
How to Get Started
The very first step is simple. Any lender you choose is going to look closely and carefully at your credit score. Your score is going to tell them what they need to know about your financial position. Think about it- if you had a friend who was notorious for borrowing money and never paying it back, would you be willing to lend them a large amount of cash? The same way of thinking goes for a lender. They will want to make sure you aren’t a risk before they sign over a large sum of money.
The best way to make sure the lender sees you in a positive light is to take care of your credit score before you even apply for a loan. You can find free websites that allow you to see your score and credit history. Two examples are Credit Karma and AnnualCreditReport.com.
What about Personal Credit?
You may have used your personal credit to get your business started. If so, that’s okay. However, it is always a good idea to keep your personal and business credit accounts separate. When you use your personal credit to start or run a business, it can create some confusion when it comes to applying for a loan or when you go to do your taxes. It’s best to establish business credit from the start and work off of that.
Fixing Your Credit Mistakes
Once you have pulled up your credit report, check your score. If it’s high, great! If it is low, or you see room for improvement, now is the time to fix any mistakes you find.
Pay off your bills
Old debts have a way of hanging on forever. It’s best to just bite the bullet and pay on them. Call up the creditor and arrange a payment plan. Many debt collection companies offer huge discounts on bills if the debtor pays it off in one payment.
Check for mistakes
You may have already taken care of problems with past debts; however, the debt collection company never reported it. Call them and dispute the charge to get it taken off of your report.
Take care of tax issues
Tax problems can cause their own problems on your credit report. Talk to the government agency who is responsible for the bill and ask for a payment plan. If you can pay the whole bill off at once, even better.
Keeping Your Score High
Once your score has improved you will want to keep it high. The simplest way is to pay your bills on time. Late payments can cause your score to drop, even if you have been paying on time for years. Additionally, a high credit card balance will never go down if you only pay the minimum amount of the bill every month. This also has a detrimental effect on your credit score. Do your best to pay more than just the minimum on your bills.
If you are worried about credit card fraud, hire one of the many credit monitoring services that will watch your credit report for you. Fraudulent charges that aren’t caught right away can cause problems later on down the road while you are trying to deal with them.
Applying for the Loan
Having the documents you need already in order will help you land the business loan you are seeking. Take a look at everything a lender will want to see from you:
You will want to make your loan request as specific as possible to show the lender how serious you are. The best way is to come up with a budget. This will show the lender you have real needs for your company. Estimate what you will be using the money for, get quotes if you have to, and make a chart for the lender. You should also attempt to project how much more revenue you believe the improvement will bring in. Don’t worry about making the numbers precise; just have this information available to back up why you need the loan.
Gather all Necessary Financial Statements
Your past and current financial records allow your lender to see your profits and losses. If you have an accountant, request their help in getting everything that is necessary together.
What you will need:
1.Cash flow statements
3.Profit and loss statements
Having these statements will let you answer some important questions the lender may ask you:
•Where are you making the most money?
•What costs the much in your business?
•Is your company profitable?
Don’t panic if you aren’t making a profit just yet. Just have a solid plan of how you are going to start turning a profit.
Lenders will also want to see the following documents:
•Tax returns for two-years back
•Accounts payable and receivable
After you have been given an offer, make sure you ask your lender about the APR on the loan and how much the interest rate will be. These figures will be based on your credit score.