Business loans are crucial for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) because business owners need funds to purchase new equipment, pay the employees, and manage the overall cash flow. The business loan allows the entrepreneurs to continue their operations while waiting for their clients to pay and grow their business.
Securing a small business loan in the United States can be challenging. Therefore, you must prepare yourself with the right strategies. There are several different options available in the US to get a business loan. You can choose any one of them depending on your needs.
These are some crucial aspects that can help you find and secure a small business loan in the US.
Identify Your Loan Objectives
Take some time to be clear about why you need the money. The loan officer may or may not ask you. But the simple exercise will help you determine the terms of a loan that make sense to you.
You can also outline the total cost of a business loan that you can afford and how soon you need the money. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself to define your loan objectives.
- Why do you need to borrow money? If you are preparing your business for a growth spurt, your loan requirements would be different from a company struggling to cover its expenses.
- How much loan do you need for your business? Remember that you will have to pay interest. So you should keep the amount as low as possible. You can make a list of things that you will invest in once you get the money. It will be useful to get an idea of how much you exactly need.
- Make sure that you add the peripheral costs as well. For example, if you are purchasing new equipment, you should foresee additional costs like installation. You may incur further expenses such as structural alterations or training, so add those to your estimate as well.
- How are you going to repay the loan? The loan will probably come with terms of repayment that could begin right after the money is disbursed. So take a look at your cash inflow to understand how much you can pay back every month. That way, you can save yourself from landing in a stressful position.
- How soon do you need the loan? It may take longer to get the money in some loan options. So if you are looking for an emergency loan, you need to look for the right sources.
Know Your Money Lenders
Most business owners tend to assume that a loan always comes from a bank. However, there are several other options available to you for a business loan. If you wish to learn more about these options, here is an overview of the best business loan companies of 2021. These are some of the most common sources to secure a business loan.
- Banks and credit unions: You will find the traditional loan options in banks and credit unions, such as term loans, auto loans, or real estate loans.
- Online lenders: If you are not too keen to approach a traditional lender, you can consider getting a business loan online. You can fill up the application on the website. The approval and funding of online loans usually happen quickly.
- Microlending: Microlenders can be an option if you were looking for a small business loan. You can borrow up to $50,000 from the Small Business Association (SBA) microloan program.
- SBA 7(a) loan: SBA primary loan program offers small business loans up to $5 million. So it can be an ideal option if you are looking for a lot of capital.
Do not dismiss an option just because you have not heard of it. Instead, do your research or talk to other business owners to learn more about these options.
Evaluate Your Business Condition
Getting a business loan is often challenging because lenders want to make sure that the company can repay the amount. So before you start with the process of acquiring the loan, you should take a closer look at your business finances. You should find out whether you qualify right away, or you may need some changes before your application.
Every loan company has its own set of criteria to evaluate the health of a business. They usually look for red flags that may indicate that a business may not be able to repay the loan. These are some of the most common red flags:
- Lack of revenue or spotty cash inflow
- Bad business credit score
- Bad personal credit score for the business owner/partners
- Lack of repayment plan
Gather the Proper Documents
You may need a lot of paperwork to get a small business loan, so you should get an idea of what you need beforehand. Every lending company will have a different set of requirements, but these are what they usually look for:
- Personal and business credit reports
- Personal and business tax returns
- Pro-forma financial statements, such as balance sheets and cash flow statements
- A formal written business plan
- Legal business documents, such as business registration or trade license
Taking a loan can be a significant step for your business. You may feel excited about what you can accomplish using that money. But you may also feel overwhelmed by all the paperwork and other aspects you have to navigate through.
That is why it is crucial to do your homework before applying for a small business loan. It will make the process easier for you and help you plan your expenditure and loan repayment.