As a small business owner, you are likely to run into issues that require more capital than you have. While you may feel somewhat stressed over the issue, rest assured that most businesses go through difficult times. You are probably wondering whether a business loan is the best choice for your money problems. For most, the answer is yes. However, applying for a small business loan isn’t as easy as many people believe it is. You’ll want to go into the process with as much understanding as possible.
Is it Necessary?
Before you apply, ask yourself if a business loan is necessary for your needs. Many companies take out a loan that they then have trouble paying back, especially when they never really needed that amount of money to begin with. For many, a business credit card or an angel investor may be all they need to get by. Understanding the pros and cons of every option is the first step to responsible borrowing.
Analyzing Your Credit
Credit is the biggest part of getting a small business loan. Before you even start the process you will want to make sure your credit score is as high as possible. This will show the lender that you are a responsible and credible business owner. You will also want to remember that even if you were able to qualify for a loan with a low score, the interest rate on it would be extremely high, as you would be considered high-risk. The best course of action is to take care of credit issues right off the bat.
How to Get Started
Luckily, finding your credit report and score is free and easy. The Fair Credit Reporting Act was put into place to allow everyone free access to this information. Sign up with websites such as Credit Karma or freecreditreport.com right away for personal accounts. If you already have business credit, go to CreditSignal.com.
Business Credit and Personal Credit
If you can, establish separate accounts for personal and business use. This will make things easier when you have to file your taxes or apply for a small business loan. Remember, lenders will still look at your personal credit score when you apply for a loan through their company.
Fixing Credit Mistakes
Now that you have found your score and can peruse your history, it is time to clean up any old debts or mistakes on your report. There are a couple of tips that will help you do just that.
Check for Errors
You may have paid off a major bill years ago that was a problem for your credit score. However, the creditor did not report it to the major credit monitoring companies. If this is the case, call and dispute the issue right away. Keep checking back to make sure it is cleared off of your record.
Pay Your Debts
Many business owners often have old debts that they may have even forgotten about. Take care of them now. Call the creditor and ask if you can get a discount if you pay the bill in one lump sum. Or, set up a payment plan and stick to it.
Tax Issues- Take Care of Them
A tax problem will definitely have a negative impact on your credit report. Take care of them now by setting up a payment plan or paying them off in full.
You’ve taken care of your past mistakes- now what? Now is the time to stay on top of your credit score. Make sure your bills are paid on time, every month. You’ve worked hard for that great number, so make sure it stays that way.
Let’s look at a few tips that will help keep your score high:
Keep credit balances low- Are you using your credit cards frequently? Even if you have a high credit balance, try to only use between 10% and 30% of the credit you have available. This shows lenders that while you have a lot of credit available, you don’t rely on it for your company.
Keep paid-off accounts open- Too many people believe that they should close their credit card account once it is paid off. Keeping it open will show that you have more revolving credit and will help you get a small business loan.
Hire some help- Now that your credit is better make sure it stays that way with a credit monitoring service. They will keep an eye on your credit report for a small monthly fee and report any suspicious activity they see.
Applying for the Small Business Loan
Now that your credit is fixed, prepare for the actual loan. To begin, put together a plan that will show the lender what you want the money for and how it will be used. For example, if you are going to expand your store, make a budget for the project. Come up with an estimate on building supplies, labor, shipping, and miscellaneous costs. You should also include how your remodel will bring in more revenue for your business.
Financial Statements and Important Documents
The lender will want to see your financial statements when you apply. These show them your past and current situation. You will need to gather the following before you apply:
•Cash Flow Statement
•Profit and Loss Statement
•Accounts Payable and Receivable
The lender will likely ask the following questions:
What brings in the most money?
What costs your company the most?
Are you making a steady profit?
If you said no to the last question, have a plan ready to show the lender that the loan is going to increase your profit margin. This will help sway their decision in your favor.
Once you are given an offer you will want to find out how much your interest rate will be. Remember, this amount is mostly based on your credit score.
Congratulations! Enjoy your business loan and we hope your business flourishes because of it.