As an entrepreneur, your startup company or small business is likely to face some financial challenges along the way. If your company grows too slow, it could lose momentum. If it produces too quickly, there’s increased demands for capital to cover expenses and operational costs. Regardless of whether you want to take your business to the next level or you need to stabilize your operations through a rapid growth period, a small business loan might be an option to bring balance to your activities.
If you are thinking about applying for a small business loan, the more you know about the process, the better. With knowledge of what lenders expect from borrowers, you have everything you need to prepare for the application process. The steps listed here should help you leverage your credit for higher loan approval rates.
Determine if you need a small business loan
There is little doubt that business runs a lot smoother when there is plenty of free cash flow to support the enterprise. A small business loan or line of credit grants access to a lump sum to money at once. The repayment terms of small business loans and lines of credit can vary from one year to as long as seven years, based on the terms of the agreement. This comprehensive contract typically includes pertinent information including the term (or length of time) the deal lasts, the interest rate on the loan, as well as any additional fees or penalties for late or missed payments, etc.
By understanding the terms, you can decide if you need a business loan to accomplish your company plans.
Prime your credit score
When applying for a small business loan, your credit score will get reviewed by the lender. Borrowers with a higher credit score or secured collateral to back the loan are more likely to qualify for offers with more favorable terms and conditions than borrowers with lower credit scores and no collateral.
To avoid delays and complications during the loan process, small business owners and entrepreneurs should make a concerted effort to separate their spending. Company expenses should get paid using their company account. Personal expenditures should get paid using a personal account. By doing so, lenders get a clearer picture of your company operations. Further, you get the added benefit of building two credit profiles (your personal file and one for your company) that potential lenders can reference when reviewing your application.
Understanding your credit score
These days, there is more than one credit scoring system in use. All credit scoring companies assign a score of between 300 up to 850 points. 700 is considered a good score. Anything over 800 is excellent.
If your credit score isn’t as high as you’d like, here are some factors that could be suppressing your score.
Too much credit in use – When you’re doing business, it isn’t especially difficult to run up the balances on credit cards. Keeping a high ‘in use’ balance on revolving credit cards or lines of credit are often a ‘red flag’ for potential lenders because the borrower may already be overextended or have troubles paying back new unsecured debt. Consider paying down your balances as a strategic move to align yourself for future credit applications and loan inquiries.
Too many recent inquiries – When lenders evaluate your credit profile, too many recent inquiries for new credit lines shows that you’re actively seeking new credit lines. The number of inquiries makes an impact on their decision of whether or not to issue new credit or extend a loan.
The way you use your existing credit lines – Lenders prefer to see the responsible use of credit when considering loan applications. Not surprisingly, they want to be sure that borrowers have the means to pay back the principle of the loan with interest. Consumers who take care not to run up all their credit card balances and pay their bills on time are the bank’s ideal customer.
Check for errors and inaccuracies on your credit report – Another factor that could be keeping your credit score low is errors, mistakes, and outdated information on your credit report. Consumers can get a free copy of their most recent credit report by contacting the major credit reporting agencies directly or using a website that offers this pertinent information. After accessing your report, scan all listed entries to make sure they are correct. If you find erroneous information, take steps to correct the data or get it removed from your report.
Take care of accounts in bad standing – If you see accounts that are in arrears, take steps to clear these entries as soon as possible. Collection accounts, past due accounts, tax liens, and public records are particularly harmful to your credit score. Many creditors are happy to work with you to make payment arrangements.
Maintain your open accounts – Don’t overlook the importance of your current reporting accounts. Even if you have inactive or paid off accounts, think twice before closing these accounts. The open credit line, when not in use, can help level out your credit use and credit utilization, which is beneficial for showing responsible use of your credit.
Use a mix of credit products – Maintaining a combination of credit accounts, including installment loans, unsecured credit cards and lines of credit, and collateralized loans build an excellent payment history for lenders to evaluate when you apply for a business loan.
Plan for the future now
Having a strategic financial plan begins with the actions you take today. By taking steps to clear up your credit report in the here and now, you are laying the foundation for a more creditworthy future. Following a plan for responsible credit usage is an essential financial strategy to assure that you can access loan products and other related financial services when you need them most.