Starting up a new business takes time, patience, knowledge, and most of all, money. New start-ups often need to apply for a business loan in order to get their company off the ground. Older companies may also need to apply for a business loan to keep up with the daily operations of the company. However, applying for a loan can be a nerve-wracking experience. Preparing for the loan process is the first step to take when you need money for your business.
What to Know Beforehand
You will want to know the ins and outs of small business loans before you apply. The first step is to understand what type of loan you will need. For example, your company may only need a small amount of money to upgrade some essential equipment. In this case, a business credit card may do the trick. But for bigger issues, a business loan is often the only solution.
Let’s look at how to prepare for the application process:
Check Your Credit Score
Your credit history will always be an important part of any loan process, so it is important to keep your score as high as you can from the start. If you started off your business with personal business credit, that was the best course of action. But for many, personal credit is what is used to get a business up and running.
As your business flourishes, your business credit report will build up. But how exactly does this help your score? Different credit companies calculate your scores in a different way. The consumer credit reporting agency, Experian, takes public records, legal filings, and collection agency data into consideration. The Dun and Bradstreet PAYDEX credit reporting agency only looks at your payment history.
In order to maintain a good business credit score for every system, always pay your debts on time. Your score will increase when you always pay the bills when they are due.
There is one common mistake that business owners make when it comes to personal and business credit scores. That is keeping a high outstanding balance on your debts even while you pay the bill on time. Too many people think that as long as they are making their payments every month that they will increase their credit score, but this isn’t true. Keep your overall balance low by paying more than the minimum balance of your bills.
To find out your credit score and look into your history, check with websites such as Credit Karma. Having access to your credit history is free for everyone.
How to Improve a Bad Score
You may think that your credit isn’t too bad, but after you checked out your score you realized that wasn’t the case. Look for the following issues and take action to improve them:
•Errors on your report- You may have paid off a debt that caused your score to drop, but it is still showing up in your credit history. Call the creditor to make sure it is removed once and for all.
•Tackle old debts- Years-old debt will come back to haunt you in the form of a bad credit score no matter how much you wish they would go away. Pay them off as soon as you can to increase your score.
•Pay off tax issues- You may have been dealing with federal or state tax issues for years. Call up the government entity that deals with your issue and ask how you can pay it off as quickly as you can.
If you are worried about credit fraud, be sure to hire a company that will monitor your accounts and report fraud or suspicious activity as soon as it happens.
Another way to improve your credit score is to open up a credit account or buy something that you are required to pay off in installments, as long as you can afford it. As you pay it off on time, your score will usually increase.
Streamline Your Request
You’ve taken every possible step to fix your credit score. Now, plan for the actual loan process. You’ll want to prepare all of your documents to prove to the lender that you are a good fit for the loan. First, come up with the budget you will stick to if you get the loan. Are you planning to remodel your store? Get estimates on building supplies, permits, labor, and miscellaneous items. Present this to your lender to show them exactly what the loan will be used for. Your goal is to back up your need for the loan.
Prepare All of Your Financial Statements
Your financial statements show how your business is doing. Before applying for a loan, ask your accountant for help putting together all of your statements.
You’ll need your:
•Profit and Loss Statement
•Cash Flow Statement
You can go over these statements to determine what is going on in your business, from your revenue to your profits.
These statements will also help you answer some important questions. You’ll see how well you are actually doing in your business and if you expect to profit in the future. If your profits aren’t looking good, don’t worry. Put together a plan concerning how you will get to where you need to be. A solid plan that you can share with a lender will help you secure the loan easier.
You will also want to bring all of your financial statements, such as balance sheets, tax returns, accounts payable and receivable, and income statements, to the lender.
Interest Rates and APR
Once you are finally approved for a business loan, don’t forget that there will be fees associated with the loan. The APR, or annual percentage rate, is representative of the yearly average of the interest you will be required to pay. The interest rate will depend on your actual credit score and is a fee that is paid to the company in return for the loan.